Judge Tosses Blind Gamer's Suit Vs. Sony

In October a visually-impaired gamer sued Sony, alleging that it wasn't fulfilling its responsibilities under U.S. law to provide access to the disabled. The reasoning depending on finding that Sony's products constitute a public accommodation. A judge said they aren't.

Plaintiff Alexander Stern sued Sony, Sony Computer Entertainment America and Sony Online Entertainment in federal court for the Central District of California, alleging that "his visual processing impairments prevent him from fully enjoying the video games manufactured by Sony, some of which are played on gaming systems with internet connections through which players in different locations can communicate and play with or against one another."

The court, in granting Sony's motion to dismiss on Feb. 8, refused to go so far as to say any game Sony currently makes constitutes a public accommodation. A public accommodation doesn't need to be publicly owned -very loosely speaking it can be a grocery store, hotel or office building whose use is generally available to the public. In a broad sense, we were talking about applying that standard to a virtual environment.

So as you can imagine, allowing the suit to proceed on this finding would have wide ramifications for games publishers. Instead, the court found Sony "is not a place of public accommodation," and therefore is not in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Disabled Gamer's Suit Against Sony Tossed [Game Politics]


Comments

    did they ever release what sort of visual impairment this guy suffers from

    the other thing is he specifically mentions MMO's which to me are about exporing not being given a waypoint to go to(although that seems to be more and more common now days)

    The notion of considering virtual environments as 'public accomodation' is a little ridiculous, but interesting nonetheless. As far as I am aware, this is the first legal case in which a virtual space is being equated with a physical one. While that notion has been quashed by the judge, undoubtedly this legal avenue warrants further consideration in the future.

      *....undoubtedly this legal avenue warrants further consideration in the future.*

      mmmyyeeesss for blind in-game characters... I think the judge has already created precedent that can and would be used in future case's if anybody else is stupid enough to take a video game company to court for not catering for the visually impaired.

    It would be nice if companies did consider the mildly visually impaired though. Like playing team games that use red and green as the different team markers that colourblind people can't distinguish. I remember friends being unable to play tribes online because you couldn't change the marker colours for instance. Options for spoken text or larger typefaces would also be nice.

      Funny you mention Tribes, my monitor back in the day had an issue that stopped one of the colour guns working intermitently. Can't remember if it was green or red, but I was a month away from affording a new monitor. I was in high school at the time. Would be nice if V-Games offered a few choices.

      Star Trek Online uses different colours depending on faction. For Klingons you have yellow enemies, orange allies and blue team mates... I wonder if that's for colourblind people.

    I'm going to sue because no one is catering to my impairment, complete-idiocy-and-meatheadedness.. oh wait, there's EA Sports.

    I know it may seem like a silly case to begin with for some but it does outline a key issue. It's wrong to deny people with disabilities the enjoyment of games. Big developers aren't likely to cater for their needs cuz that means losing time and money. This ruling is a major setback in this sense because this case essentially gives no reason for them to make games more accessible cuz they're not going to get sued for it (unless someone finds different grounds on which to argue on) and they're never going to do it out of the goodness of their "hearts".

      Ugh.. So explain to me how exactly we should go about catering to the blind in a mainly visual media?

      If you can tell me how to design AvP, Bioshock, etc without the need to see what's on the screen, then I tip my hat to you, good sir.

      Catering most videogames to the blind would be like writing music for the deaf. Sure, there'd be a way it could be contorted into a base level of understanding, but it would be nothing like the original intended product.

    Stan: It's every man's right to have babies if he wants them. Reg: But ... you can't HAVE babies! ... Where's the fetus gonna gestate? You gonna keep it in a box?

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