Note to Rude Gamers: You Don’t Have the Right

By  |  Friday, October 2, 2009 at 3:36 pm

resistancefoeI got a chuckle today reading about the failed lawsuit of Playstation 3 owner Erik Estavillo, who tried to sue Sony after getting banned from the Playstation Network for bad behavior.

If you’ve ever played a competitive online game, you know the type: Loud-mouthed, cussing, insulting, maybe even racist, sexist or homophobic. It’s not clear which of those offenses Estavillo committed while playing Resistance: Fall of Man, but it was apparently bad enough that Sony kicked him off the entire Playstation Network.

A few months ago, Estavillo sued Sony for $55,000 and asked that the company be enjoined from banning other players, on grounds that his right to free speech in a public forum was violated. He added that his agoraphobia (social anxiety) precludes him from socializing in public, so PSN was his only outlet. Estavillo further claimed that Sony effectively stole his pre-paid Playstation Store points.

Too bad. Game Politics reports that a judge has dismissed the case, ruling that a First Amendment claim isn’t plausible. After all, it’s Sony’s private network, and when you sign on, you agree to Sony’s rules. If there’s any question that PSN is like a public place, the tech law blog of Eric Goldman further notes that Sony’s network wasn’t considered a “company town,” because it doesn’t take on any functions of a municipality, virtual or otherwise. PSN is an entertainment venue, not a public service.

The bottom line is, you don’t have First Amendment rights in online gaming. You do have a responsibility to be courteous to those around you. For all the times that people ignore those principles in Resistance, Halo or Gears of War, I’ve got to pump my fist for the minor victories.


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5 Comments For This Post

  1. Seumas Says:

    A little sad that “crude language” is lumped in with racist and homophobic slurs.

  2. jacobyjd Says:

    I disagree–I’ve heard children as young as 7 years old playing chatting along with teenagers and adults in various online gaming networks. Sure, its their stupid parents’ faults for letting them play M-rated games in the first place, but the online gaming community as a whole would benefit from a lot more discretion when it comes to vulgar language, as well as racism, sexism, etc.

  3. Tim Robertson Says:

    Love it, perfect ruling. I hope Microsoft starts to follow suit, as I have pretty much given up playing these online games because I just can’t stand the vile language too many people use there.

  4. GiddyUpGo Says:

    Right on Sony. I think it is time offensive actions are banned. Just when I said I would never have anything to do with Sony because of the past DRM issues. Sony, I may change my stand against you because of your stand on this. Thank you!

  5. Marc Says:

    Cursing out of frustration is a whole different world away from being racist or homophobic, and I agree you should be banned for anything that could be considered bullying, or hateful – whatever the excuse given is.

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