Disabled Gamer Sues Sony to Make Their Games Accessible

WoWScrnShot_kneel

Unhappy with Sony? The plaintiff should join Siouxsie's WOW guild.

Siouxsie thinks that Sony should make its video games accessible.  That is what Alexander Stern, an individual with visual and learning disabilities wants them to do.

On October 23, 2009, Alexander Stern (“plaintiff”) sued Sony, Sony Online and Sony Computer Entertainment America in the United States District Court for the Central District of California for failing to provide equal access to their goods and services to the disabled.  The plaintiff brings his claims under the California Unruh Civil Rights Act and Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).

Title III of the ADA mandates that “[n]o individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any private entity who owns, leases (or leases to), or operates a place of public accommodation.”

The plaintiff  may have a tricky road ahead.  Plaintiff first must demonstrate that he is an individual with a disability for purposes of the ADA.  He is alternately described as an individual with visual disabilities or an individual with multiple learning disabilities.  Because his limitations are not specified in the complaint, it is hard to know whether or not plaintiff qualifies as disabled under the ADA.  Next, plaintiff must establish that Sony is considered a place of public accommodation under the ADA.  The Ninth Circuit has made this no easy task.

But if he can clear these hurdles, the plaintiff asserts that the modifications he seeks are reasonable.  It is not clear what game or games the plaintiff wants to play.  But he cites other companies that have made the necessary modifications to their games.  He cites  Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft (“WOW”), which provides visual cues through third-party modifications and Pin Interactive’s Terraformers, which provides a high-contrast 3D-graphics mode, an audio compass, a GPS-like mechanism,  and a keypad option.

Plaintiff alleges that Sony failed to respond to any of his requests to discuss his accessibility issues.   The plaintiff also contends that Sony requires gamers to sign a waiver to agree to arbitration before they can even request a modification.  Really Sony?  Siouxsie hopes this is not so.

Whatever the viability of this particular lawsuit, if the modifications needed are reasonable, Siouxsie says, “Why not make them?”   Sony only stands to increase its user base if it makes its games accessible.   And if the modifications are not reasonable, Sony should work on its customer service to avoid lawsuits like this in the future.

In the meantime, Siouxsie says, “Why waste your time with Sony?  WOW is far superior and accessible.”

Here is a copy of the complaint for your reading pleasure.

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~ by siouxsielaw on November 9, 2009.

4 Responses to “Disabled Gamer Sues Sony to Make Their Games Accessible”

  1. […] Alexander Stern has sued Sony Online Entertainment and various affiliated entities involved in online videogaming, saying the company “is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to implement features to make its games accessible to visually impaired gamers.” [Gamespot, Kotaku, The Register via Siouxsie Law] […]

  2. if you ever come over the second life, you know where to find me…

  3. wait, that should be… if you ever come over TO second life… sorry.

  4. […] Siouxsie blogged about this case here. […]

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