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A 22-year old mother in Jacksonville, FL, just pleaded guilty to second degree murder after killing her young son. The child, three-months old, was shaken to death because the mother had become angry that his crying interrupted her game of Farmville on Facebook. The mother, Alexandria Tobias, faces up to 25-years in prison. Zynga, the company that makes the Farmville game, has built a money train based on it’s portfolio of video games. Over 120 million people play the Farmville game, which has become one of the most popular games on Facebook. The company charges real money for people to buy virtual products, like tractors and farmland. While I’ve never understood the game, I know plenty of people who love it. Estimates are that Zynga brings in a cool million dollars per day for their distribution of the Farmland video game. The number of employees for the company has quadrupled in the last year to 775. The company is only three years old and was founded with half a billion in venture capital financing. The death of Tobias’ baby will create public questions of corporate liability for video game addiction. I fully expect to see lawsuits filed as a result of this case, and I’m sure that more egregious stories lie underneath the surface. One of the hurdles for companies like Zynga is that there are some who believe that these games are actually designed to be addictive. It only takes one major lawsuit to open the floodgates and for Zynga to be no more. I’m sure they are sleeping with one eye open after this one. Dr. Boyce Watki

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