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Ducks Gameday: Gamer Law

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Luigi gets litigious. Ducks @ Sabres.

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Watching the Ducks play these days sure is, well, unfun (but you know what's not unfun? Listening to Jawbreaker's 1990 debut album Unfun). Let's do some fun stuff.

You've probably never heard of the site JustAnswer.com, so I'll explain. It's essentially a paid version of Yahoo! Answers, but instead of random idiots answering your questions, you have verified experts answering your question. So if you have a legal question, a verified lawyer will help you out. A medial question? A doctor is there for you. And so on. This sounds pretty good in theory, but having never used the service, I won't try to vouch for them. They also seem pretty pricey.

Of course, the best part of the service is that, like Yahoo! Answers, you can go through previous user inquiries and make fun of how dumb everyone is. And who is dumber than gamers?

Here's a real life question asked by a gamer who wants some legal advice. Keep in mind that this gamer paid for this advice, so it's not just a case of trolling Yahoo users. I've edited the back-and-forth between the gamer and the lawyer down a bit for readability. Original context is here.

Customer: So I play a video game called Final Fantasy XIV, it's an MMO. I left for 4 months and got repeated messages via text from an individual asking me to come back. We had a verbal agreement that I was going to get my feet wet, and once I did, he was going to return leadership to our guild (group of members with an in game house and accessories) to me. I had been the previous owner of the guild, founder, for 8 months. I left the game on break, gave it to a friend, and that friend gave it to him. While all property electronic belongs to the video game makers, he did break our verbal contract, costing me both a subscription fee, and since he's taking 8 months of guild building from me, that was over 100 of hours of playtime, and displacing other video gamers over this. I'd like to know if I have any grounds for a suit, since I have been damaged by this.

Lawyer: Can you tell me, does this person live in the same state as you? If not, what state does he live in?

Customer: I only know him by in game persona and his cell phone number, which Google tells me is out of San Antonio, Texas. I'm just not sure if I have a case, and I'm currently waiting for the video game administrators to weigh in. I know it's silly and it's a game, but the guy is getting away with 8 months of my time and effort to enjoy the game, agreed to return it and then backed out when I asked for it. I just really want to know if I have a case, or if I'm just wasting time and money.

Lawyer: [tl;dr: Real bad advice on how to waste a lot of money suing this person] Thank you. I ask about where they are since if your plan is to sue, you have to file suit in the state they live in. What you are describing? It sounds like you did, indeed, have a contract with this person. And that they breached the contract. So you could sue them...you could sue them to recover the money you lost for their refusal to honor your agreement. But the hurdle you face is that before you can sue them you have to figure out who they are...and where they live. A few ways to approach that. First, you could hire a lawyer in the state you believe they are in and file suit. That would allow you to subpoena records from the game company and ascertain the persons name/address. Then you could join them to the suit. But this would be expensive (you have to hire the lawyer to file the suit do do this work for you) Or... you could hire an investigator to try and ascertain this persons identity. Or... you could try and convince them to share this information with you. Once you determine where they live, then you can file suit...what you describe sounds like a great case for small claims. Small claims is a true "peoples court". The formal rules of evidence and procedure do not apply. So you can represent yourself (no need to hire a lawyer). The process is simple enough. You head to the county court (the county where they live) and talk to the clerk of the court. They can get you the forms needed to start. You file the claim, serve a copy on the defendant and wait for your day in court. In court, be prepared to tell the judge what happened, and bring in copies of any evidence that supports your case. IF there are witnesses who can testify about what happened? Have them come as well.

Customer: So, it sounds like I would need to find a Texas lawyer, go to Texas to appear in court, and so on? What If I just wanted a lawyer to call his house and let him know I was persueing legal action? Or having a lawyer mediate and avoid court?

Lawyer: That is easier... in theory you can hire a local attorney to do this (write the demand letter...demanding he pay you and threatening suit if he refuses). Though you still need to figure out just "who" he is (to allow you to send the letter)

Customer: There are websites that you can search by phone number and obtain information. I assume that it's a legit enough way to obtain information. I suppose then I'd just hafta do a search for Texas lawyers, call one up and see how it goes with the demand letter.

Lawyer: In order to sue the person you will need to track them down...assuming you can do so, then yes...you can start with paying a lawyer to send them a demand letter. And if they are in TX? Best to hire a TX lawyer to do so. Please let me know if you have more questions. I am happy to help if I can.

In short:

Customer: Can I sue a random person on the internet because he won't let me play my vidya games the way I want to?

Lawyer: lol yeah go for it.

The internet, everybody!

Gameday

Anaheim Ducks @ Buffalo Sabres

Thursday, Dec 17, 2015, 7:00 PM EST

First Niagara Center - Buffalo, NY

Prediction

Corey Perry sues Dan Bylsma.

Inspirational Music

To take up space in my gameday posts this season, so that I don't have to write so much, you'll be getting a glimpse of my playlist while I write this garbage.

Today I'm listening to: Jawbreaker - "Want"