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Sony The Courts Games Your Rights Online

Visually Impaired Gamer Sues Sony 550

Posted by Soulskill
from the blind-suing-the-blind dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A visually impaired gamer has sued Sony because game products allegedly violate the Americans With Disabilities Act. 'According to the suit, Sony ignored repeated requests through postal mail and e-mail to come up with reasonable modifications to its games to make them more accessible.' This suit seems to be a combination of National Federation of the Blind v. Target, which complained of inaccessibility to the visually disabled (which settled for $6 million) and Martin v. PGA Tour, Inc., where the US Supreme Court ruled a disabled golfer was entitled to a golf cart where one was not already allowed as a reasonable accommodation. If the plaintiff wins, Sony will have to make 'reasonable accommodations' which are not an 'undue financial burden.' In my humble opinion, providing access for the disabled is not only the right thing to do but it will generate more profit for Sony."
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Visually Impaired Gamer Sues Sony

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  • by OzPeter (195038) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @12:25PM (#30015084)
    I'd hate to to think what this guy would do when he realizes that cameras don't pander to the visually impaired market. On the other hand, I'm blind in one eye so maybe I can take a leaf out of his book and and sue camera companies anyway for products that don't suit my particular physical situation and finally realize that "??? profit" step.
  • Next he can sue auto manufacturers for not making cars accessible to the blind.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by joocemann (1273720)

      Next he can sue auto manufacturers for not making cars accessible to the blind.

      That lawsuit is entirely possible and winnable under the current ADA. Reform is necessary NOW! Predatory lawyers and litigious garbage (yes, they can be disabled too) are ruining this country and the ADA facilitates it for being written too loosely!

      • Re:Great (Score:4, Insightful)

        by edumacator (910819) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @01:14PM (#30015546)

        I don't disagree that ADA is written too loosely, but a lot of the abuse depends on the judge. The "reasonable accommodations" part of the act is important.

        If there are modifications that can be made without undue financial strain, I don't see a problem with asking the company to modify the game.

        The red herrings mentioned elsewhere, about making cars work for the blind and the like, would be examples of UNreasonable accommodations.

        • Re:Great (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Jeremy Erwin (2054) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @01:23PM (#30015614) Journal

          Reasonable accommodations are in the eye of the beholder.

        • Re:Great (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Asclepius99 (1527727) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @01:35PM (#30015736)
          The first part of his suit seems reasonable, he claims that Sony should do what other MMOs have done to make the game more accessible to the visually impaired (seems to be a lot of voice-over stuff). The article seems to say that Blizzard allows third party mods that have voice compasses and stuff, so it seems like Sony could easily throw together a few of those (and it would probably net them a larger selection of players so they really should).

          However, the second part is what seems ridiculous to me. He claims that Sony's online auction site for selling/buying games isn't fit for the visually impaired. So not only is Sony not allowing him full entertainment of the games, they're actually costing him extra money. That's just stupid. Every computer I've seen within the last 5-6 years has come with some sort of zoom feature for the visually disabled. I know my computer (Alienware bought at the end of 2008) has an Ease of Access section in my start menu with a magnifier, narrator, on-screen keyboard, and voice recognition. They're probably not the best out there considering them came with it, but I'm sure it would allow him to use an auction site.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            It depends on the website. I'm no expert and you need an account to view the actual site but the lack of alt texts on the images and using images as titles, here [sony.com], does not bode well for screen readers.

        • Re:Great (Score:5, Interesting)

          by hairyfeet (841228) <.bassbeast1968. .at. .gmail.com.> on Saturday November 07, 2009 @04:39PM (#30016982) Journal

          Exactly a judge should be able to look at the WHY reasonable accommodations are required, and work accordingly. Let us just not forget there was a REASON why the ADA was passed, and it wasn't for asshats like this. When my late sister had to go to court over someone stealing her identity the local courthouse, which was built in the 20s, naturally didn't work with her wheelchair, but since there is the ADA they couldn't just tell her to "figure it out" (Which in the 70s they would have done).

          So the judge simply thought about it for a few minutes, and had court on the steps during lunch break. It only took them a couple of minutes to get her testimony and get everything resolved in her favor. It didn't cost anyone anything but a little extra time and allowed my sister to have her day in court despite her handicap.

          And THAT is why we have the ADA, not so some asshole can play golf or blind guys can play video games. It was so the handicapped couldn't be discriminated against when it came to the important stuff like access to government services. It really burns me up when some douche takes what was a perfectly reasonable request...make it so the handicapped can have access to basic services, and tries to turn it into his/her own personal lotto. Just another proof that scum sucking lawyers and greedy douches are running this country into the ground IMHO.

  • by JeanBaptiste (537955) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @12:26PM (#30015094)

    I was born with a crippled left hand making it impossible for me to play an immensely popular game, Guitar Hero.

    Should I sue because they didn't accommodate for people with my particular disability? Plenty of people are missing limbs. Why aren't they in an uproar over Guitar Hero?

    and what somebody sued and got 6 million dollars from the PGA? I don't think Lee Travino's putting challenge has anywhere near the popularity of Guitar Hero.

    • Controller Mod? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Zathain Sicarius (1398033) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @12:49PM (#30015334)
      What if you were to play around with the frets with your right hand and mod the controller out to replace the strum bar with two foot pedals? (A bit of a roundabout solution, but Its better than the other replies you've gotten...) What I'd really like to see is the content of these letters that he's sent to Sony. Theres another article linked inside of this one about a guy who is blind and helps other blind people play commercial games through screen readers, surround sound, and menu guides. He's even gone so far as to send mail to developers and publishers to suggest how they might better help the blind. That could be the key difference between these two. If this guy just sent a bunch of letters about how "OMGZ UR GAME ISH HARD FUR BLIND PEEPS" and then giggled to himself how they didn't respond to him, then he's just being an idiot trying to get some cash out of this. If Sony's been ignoring valid suggestions on how to help and giving him the silent treatment, then he might have a case.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Stuart Gibson (544632)

        Don't most big companies have a policy of ignoring any letters that are suggestions, to stop people suing the company for royalties if they implement a similar idea?

    • The guitar's just a controller. Substitute your regular controller for the guitar.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Xaoswolf (524554)
      play with your feet., overcome your disability yourself
      • by rolfwind (528248) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @02:16PM (#30016096)

        The software requirements clearly stated:

        Intel® or AMD® processor 2.0 GHz or greater
        512 MB minimum, 2 GB recommended.
        900 MB free disk space (which includes the 400 MB install footprint for a complete installation)
        Graphics card supported by DirectX 9.0c. 256 MB of video RAM or higher is recommended.
        Eyes (Ears optional but recommended)
        2 Hands (Opposable Thumbs optional but recommended)

        Clearly, he should probably be suing the hardware manufacturer. Let's hope his mom has some cash.

    • by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted@slashd[ ]org ['ot.' in gap]> on Saturday November 07, 2009 @02:53PM (#30016336)

      Exactly. The problem is, that the line got lost. The line that should be drawn between treating people equally, and preferring a specific group.

      The whole concept of making people who are different "special" is the exact opposite of equality. (equality is zero, "special" is positive infinity). It's just as bad as treating people badly. (negative infinity)
      Also. As the scale is not absolute but relative, treating someone better, means treating everyone else worse. Depends on your standpoint.

      The only difference? Preferring people with disadvantages, is preferring disadvantages for society. Not a wise move...

      I wish to be treated for *exactly* what I am. (If the person is able to know what I am.) If I am bad at something, don't fuckin' say it is OK! It is NOT! I have to work on that, to be successful in evolution! Period. And if someone is better than me, I don't call him an ass because he says so. If he is right, he has all rights to say so! I can be proud, because he makes humanity as a whole better. Everything else would just be pathetic jealousy of someone with a low self-esteem.

      Hawking is a great example. I am better at moving than he is. And I can say that. He is a total genius in physics. And I don't think he has a urge to have a low self-esteem because of his disadvantages. Just as I don't have low self-esteem because of mine.

      Conclusion: That's the funny thing:
      - You can measure the integration of black people in America by the amount of talk that still is needed to mention equality (as something special).
      - Gays only will become normal parts of society, when the need for a "we are so special" parade goes away.
      - Feminism only will have reached its final goal, when it stops existing.
      - Etc, etc, etc.
      Because not the other extreme is the goal. A loose swinging around the origin between the extremes is. :)

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dangitman (862676)

        - Gays only will become normal parts of society, when the need for a "we are so special" parade goes away.

        Wait, what? Parades are an indication that the paraders aren't a normal part of society?

        They have parades for all kinds of things - returned veterans, marching bands, agricultural fairs. Does that mean that all those are not normal parts of society?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by tonycheese (921278)

          No, I mean in those cases you're CELEBRATING or HONORING something. We have Thanksgiving Day parades for Thanksgiving and parades for veterans to honor their sacrifice and accomplishments. It's not that he hates gay people (or at least, nothing in his post seems to indicate that), it's just that gay pride parades are celebrating the fact that they're gay. It's not that the parades are what's preventing them from being a normal part of the society, it's the fact that society has driven them to have to even h

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by dangitman (862676)

            Of course, he did say "we are so special" when describing the parades and I'm guessing that's probably what ticked you off.

            Well, yeah, that's something that shows his prejudices - because that's not really what the parades are about. Sure, it is about "gay pride" but being proud of who you are is a bit different to saying "I'm special."

            Either this applies to all parades, or it doesn't. Take ethnic parades - they are usually seen as a celebration of culture. But I guess they could be taken as "we're so special" events, but that's not usually how they're seen.

            So, ultimately is he saying that in an equal society, nobody should be

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Eraevous (1651221)
      A big difference between the case in the article and the counter-examples most people have been coming up with seems to lie in the legal definition of blindness. Notice that the plaintiff requests better "visual cues" for certain tasks. Brandon likely is legally blind [wikipedia.org] and not actually Helen Keller style blind. I have several friends who are legally blind without glasses or contacts, so the threshold is quite a bit higher than you might be thinking. All Brandon seems to be asking for are some easy UI design
  • OS-impaired (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 07, 2009 @12:26PM (#30015096)

    I'm an operating-system-ly impaired gamer. I'm using Debian to run my computer. I demand that all Windows games be immediately released for Linux.

  • by ScrewMaster (602015) * on Saturday November 07, 2009 @12:30PM (#30015136)

    In my humble opinion, providing access for the disabled is not only the right thing to do but it will generate more profit for Sony.

    That's a fine-sounding liberal opinion, but when did accessibility to a video game, which presupposes a minimum level of vision, become a privilege mandated by the Federal Government? We are not talking about an essential service here, access to government records, we aren't even talking about a visually-impaired person being unable to order products online. It's a video game. Entertainment, no more.

    Look, sometimes we can't do fun things that we'd like to do, but it doesn't mean we should start hiring lawyers. There was a time in my life when I'd go rock-climbing (only a few times, but it was fun and I was in pretty good physical shape back then.) Almost thirty years later and I wouldn't even bother trying: totally out of my league now, having been at a desk job for almost that long. So, that being the case, should I start complaining that rock faces should be made "accessible" to me in my "impaired" condition?

    Please.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by khallow (566160)

      In my humble opinion, providing access for the disabled is not only the right thing to do but it will generate more profit for Sony.

      That's a fine-sounding liberal opinion

      Finally, an opinion on Slashdot worthy of being humble!

    • by Kohath (38547) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @02:24PM (#30016152)

      You don't understand. The reasoning goes like this:

      I'm blind, therefore you have an obligation...

      There's nothing that can't be justified by that reasoning. Any time a blind person isn't experiencing perfect joy, you can be argued to have failed in your obligation. It doesn't cross a line. There's no line.

  • So are deaf people going to sue Sony for not signing bands that cater to the hearing impaired?

    I'm all for promoting access for the disabled but there's just some things that can't be done no matter how many lawsuits you file.

  • by TheLink (130905) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @12:31PM (#30015152) Journal
    I doubt it'll provide more profit for Sony. But if Sony lose and are forced to mod their MMORPGs, I think it may mean more profit for gold farmers. Some of the mods are likely to make it easier for bots to navigate and do stuff :).
    • Even if Sony loses the suit, there's nothing stopping Sony from accepting mods for the sole purpose of aiding accessibility while still forbidding other kinds of mods. Perhaps a certification process for third party mods.

  • Somehow, I doubt it would be easy to enable people who are BLIND to play video games. :/
    • Somehow, I doubt it would be easy to enable people who are BLIND to play video games. :/

      Why not? "Press the X button. Now run after the red thing." Okay, maybe I see your point.
    • Do you remember the old laser disc game, "The Dragon's Lair"? The sound track was very linked to events in the game: only two of them, where the scene would be reversed left-right randomly. I actually saw someone play it blindfolded, as proof that it could be done, with the cheering crowd telling him to go left or right for that pair of scenes.

    • Simple. Use audio cues instead of visual ones. TFA mentioned an audio compass and voice-over as being examples.

    • by T Murphy (1054674)
      Look up "echolocation boy" on youtube- that kid plays video games despite being blind.
  • Doesn't make sense (Score:3, Insightful)

    by siride (974284) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @12:33PM (#30015172)
    Why are game companies, or any companies for that matter, required to make every product accessible? I can understand government services, both because of their purpose but also because of the fact that they are paid for by public money (and generally don't actually need to be un-accessible), but products of corporations? If this guy wants to complain to the company and then not buy their products, fine. In fact, that's really the best way to deal with the issue.
    • Accessibility isn't required, reasonable accommodations are. Now to debate the definition of "reasonable" and whether or not the feds should even be involved is another matter.

  • Most screen readers can parse HTML so that visually impaired users can access web sites, as long as they properly write the web site to standards (not making the whole thing in Flash, for example).

    It'd make sense if game developers got behind publishing a common API for all games, so that a user can just install a single program that'd give the proper clues to disabled gamers for every compatible game.

  • I think it's great when companies provide their products in services in a manner that makes them more accessible/usable to people with disabilities. However some modifications may give normally-abled people an unfair advantage or disadvantage. If I hide in the shadows it's rather unfair that other people simply have to turn on the "make everyone extra bright" button and now I'm seen.

    It may be an issue of the game designers being afraid of ruining gameplay balance by implementing accessibility features no
  • It's been going downhill ever since that Tommy kid successfully sued Bally in the 70s...
  • by Anonymous Coward

    It is dark. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.

    >_

  • by LordKaT (619540) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @12:37PM (#30015220) Homepage Journal

    Knowing Sony, they might also consider the mass slaughter of the physically impaired to be a financially responsible action.

    • by Virak (897071)

      Introducing Sony's cutting edge PlayStation 4 game console, now with revolutionary Soylent Green-Ray disc technology.

  • On one hand, it's Sony.

    On the oth- Wait, never mind. :)
  • Wiilchair Fit?
  • Public Accommodation (Score:5, Interesting)

    by chill (34294) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @12:40PM (#30015248) Journal

    The Americans with Disabilities Act states that, "No 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 person who owns, leases (or leases to), or operates a place of public accommodation."

    This has kept a generation of lawyers employed by arguing over the definition of "public accommodation". The strict interpretation limits it to only physical places, which would rule out games. There have been many court battles over expanding the definition. This particular suit, if I read the various summaries correctly (IANAL), would be one of the more far reaching stretches of the definition and could have a significant impact on how much the ADA covers.

    In short, it could fund an entire new generation of lawyers by expanding the ADA to an almost unlimited scope. Blind or not, I hope this guy goes down in flames.

    For reference: http://www.law.duke.edu/shell/cite.pl?50+Duke+L.+J.+297 [duke.edu]

    • by Nerdfest (867930)
      If people keep attempting this it may eventually push lawmakers into providing a more precise and limited definition, likely related to essential services. That is not likely the goal this person has in mind. As with so many things, it only takes a couple of people abusing something to ruin it for everybody.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Animats (122034)

      AOL settled with the National Organization for the Blind on that one, agreeing to make their client more "accessible". That was in 2000, when AOL's web client mattered.

      Target settled their online ADA lawsuit in 2008 [usefularts.us]. But that was related to Target's having physical stores subject to the ADA, and the web site being related to the stores.

      The ADA only applies to "commercial speech", where the intent is to sell. In the US, the First Amendment preempts the ADA for non-commercial speech by non-government p

      • The ADA only applies to "commercial speech", where the intent is to sell. [...] Games aren't usually "commercial speech".

        Do advertisements in video games count as "commercial speech"? What about Sony's "official auction site where gamers can sell their in-game items for real money" that the article mentions?

  • So why is he specifically targeting Sony? Why not all the video game manufacturers? In the end, Sony will agree to make some trivial modification to some game to meet this guys requirements, maybe like a "high contrast mode". And then...

    The lawyers will once again win.

  • by HockeyPuck (141947) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @12:48PM (#30015326)

    http://www.wow.com/2009/07/06/visually-impaired-players-the-unseen-inhabitants-of-azeroth/ [wow.com]

    The biggest problem for me personally is raiding. Picture this, if you will, we're mid-raid (10 is bad, 25 a nightmare) and someone dies. My raid leader pipes up: 'Combat rez on xxx now!' As the Druid, this means me and it's time to panic. Somewhere in the mass of moving targets, dead trash mobs and my valiant guild mates is a corpse. I've got to find and rez that corpse now and I have no idea where to find them. I usually yell for the raid leader to mark said fallen soul but it doesn't always happen. Welcome to my nightmare.

    • He talks about depth perception being a problem in WoW

      Does it work that way? Unless he has some fancy 3d screen (and a version of WoW that doesn't exist), everything on the screen is being portrayed on a flat plane. Sure, distance is faked using different sized objects but I don't think depth perception is actually an issue when everything is viewed at exactly the same depth.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Hurricane78 (562437)

      You know that there was this great invention called "glasses", some 725 years ago, do you? ^^

  • by Lemming Mark (849014) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @01:04PM (#30015460) Homepage

    Many large organizations today seem to use their customer-facing staff solely as a means for getting rid of people who phone up to complain, or to request things or make enquiries. This isn't necessarily the fault of the staff in question, or the intention of the organization. Yet somehow things get structured so that it becomes the function of the support staff. For instance, I suspect that under-staffing the help desk or measuring performance by calls "resolved" as opposed to customers satisfied tends to push things towards a "When customers call, make them go away, otherwise they're stopping us talking to our customers" mode of operation.

    The other problem is that it's pretty easy in a large organization (or even a small, highly bureaucratic one) to get into situations where large swathes of problems are "somebody else's responsibility", or likely "nobody in particular". Much as I dislike the idea of a work environment where inappropriate work is dumped on people, or staff are lumped with resolving things they're not responsible for, at the end of the day the buck ought to stop *somewhere*, even if it's just a customer service supervisor writing back. If a customer has a real and legitimate question to which there is *an* answer but there's *nobody* in the organization whose job description allows or requires them to answer it, you're doing something wrong. It's not possible to satisfy all people all of the time but I think most organizations can do a heck of a lot better than they do!

    In this instance, the allegation is that Sony ignored requests made of them. Did they ignore them outright, did they fob off the (potential?) customer, or did they make the effort to respond but the gamer didn't like the answer anyhow? Sony may have done everything as well as they possibly could in this case but they should nonetheless evaluate whether engaging more with the gamer in question could have saved them a court case.

    Some of the claims in the case could seem a bit dubious but as the article points out, various other companies have at least allowed 3rd parties to develop plugins that assist disabled gamers. So it's not like anybody's saying Sony must develop (for instance) a braille interface to WoW on their own budget.

  • by joocemann (1273720) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @01:06PM (#30015482)

    The Americans With Disabilities Act was written so loosely that there are so many of these litigious bullshitteries going on nation wide. It is basically a form of extortion facilitated by poorly written 'laws'.

    We need reform on the ADA as soon as possible! Locally, a predatory woman has sued over 80 local businesses (this is her JOB now), represented by a lawyer who has sued over 250.

    I hope sony lobbies to get reform.

    I say all of this with the great respect for the disabled and the true intent of the ADA. It is the exploit of the act that bothers me so much.

    In this case, Sony makes visual video games and a guy who can't see thinks Sony OWES him a game. That's like being allergic to peanut butter and suing Reeses for not making you a hazelnut cup. THEY DONT OWE YOU A HAZELNUT CUP!

    • by phantomfive (622387) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @02:57PM (#30016364) Journal

      We need reform on the ADA as soon as possible! Locally, a predatory woman has sued over 80 local businesses (this is her JOB now), represented by a lawyer who has sued over 250.

      This sort of thing sounds horrible when you first hear it, but it's important to remember, most of those business probably were violating the ADA. Maybe they didn't have a ramp going into their store, or whatever. If they had made their business more accessible to begin with, it wouldn't have been a problem.

      I'm totally against frivolous lawsuits, but you can't say her lawsuits were frivolous just because there were a lot of them. You have to show that they were frivolous.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by joocemann (1273720)

        I didn't have time to go into detail, but, for example, she sued a place because the soap dispenser was high (when she is in her wheelchair) enough that soap would run down her wrist. She complained that this made her feel embarrassed and mistreated. Note that in an interview she has discussed her injuries, which do not require a wheelchair, and she claims she only uses a wheelchair when she feels she needs to.

        Note also that in most cases the businesses settle out of court. In this case they paid her som

  • my perception of somebory that is "visually impaired" is somebody that doesnt see very well, but is not blind. if you can see, but not very well, buying a beamer would be the obvious solution instead of suing Sony.

    anyway, if the changes for Sony would be reasonable and it wouldn't affect the quality of the product in a negative way, i'd say why not? do it!

  • Sony should sue him back for his refusal to buy a bigger TV.

  • by GringoChapin (1663533) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @01:50PM (#30015888)
    I am totally blind, and I have played video games, specifically Punch Out, so I can definitively say that it is possible, at least to play some games. Whether or not this lawsuit is justified depends on many facts that haven't been revealed. If this guy is expecting the game to be substantially altered, then I think he's wrong, and the ADA (based on my reading) would not support his position. However, if he is simply asking Sony to add some small features to the game that would make it more accessible, then I think his suit is reasonable and he should win. My understanding of the ADA is that it doesn't allow you to sue to change the laws of the universe. It just allows you to sue when a company does not provide reasonable accommodation when it is within their power to reasonably do so. Unfortunately, the definition of reasonable is quite relative.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pandrijeczko (588093)

      Please excuse my total ignorance but how do you navigate around Slashdot as a blind person?

      I can understand that text on the screen can be "read" to you by a program that turn text to speech, but how are things like the position of a, say, "Reply to This" button conveyed to you so that you know it's there on screen in the first place where a sighted person would just click with the mouse pointer?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by GringoChapin (1663533)
        Check YouTube for videos on "screen readers". You can see the couple I've done at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmUPhEVWu_E [youtube.com] In short the web page is linearized, and read one line at a time by my screen reader. If there is a link for replying, my screen reader will say "link reply". It also tells me about tables, headings, ETC.
  • by Lemming Mark (849014) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @03:05PM (#30016402) Homepage

    Seriously guys, it's easy to go "Tut tut, blind people can't possibly play games, what an unreasonable fellow". But the article says *visually impaired*, which does not necessarily mean total blindness. There are phases in between where you can see the computer screen but it'd be nice if the game didn't have to make it really hard to follow what's happening. Are there really as many people here as the posts would indicate who can't see this distinction?

    Also: are you the same crowd of people who bitch at Microsoft for releasing OSes that are too bloated to run on your hardware without an upgrade. You *can* at least upgrade your hardware!

  • by Bones3D_mac (324952) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @07:09PM (#30017894)

    Being disabled myself, I can sympathize with such frustrations... but guess what... even the disabled can be totally unreasonable!

    Sure, it's one thing to expect handicapped accessible ramps and bathrooms at places of business which deal directly with the public, but it's something completely different to expect a business to cater to any and every conceivable disability when the person in question isn't even on their property or being dealt with on a personal basis.

    Why should this person be suing Sony for problems extending beyond the scope of their hardware's intended use when the guy could just as easily find a 3rd party solution for such issues and get government assistance to acquire it? Are they somehow entitled to a first party solution simply because a third party solution might not be as pretty to use or look at? Is there a reason this person should expect every piece of software/hardware he encounters to have a built-in zoom function, when he could just as easily use something like a display magnifying glass like that featured in the film version of "1984"? And how would they prove that using such an external solution would "damage" them to the point that the only logical solution is to sue not the display hardware's manufacturer, but the manufacturer of other hardware using that display?

    After all, is it Sony's fault that this person purchased a TV with pixels too small for them to view the images shown on it adequately?

  • Um, no. (Score:3, Informative)

    by uvajed_ekil (914487) on Sunday November 08, 2009 @02:41AM (#30019816)
    the Target case is completely different, and I don't think it applies here. And the Martin v. PGA case relates to employment, and appears to be completely irrelevant to video games intended for home use. Sorry, you don't have a legal right to play video games in an ideal manner. What's next, suing Ford an Toyota because their speedometers can not easily be read by the visually impaired? Suing the MPAA (not that I'm opposed to that)? I am not able to derive optimal enjoyment from most of Sony's crap, er, leisure products either, so I buy other things instead, rather than suing them to make what I want. Geepers creepers.
  • by BoneFlower (107640) <george,worroll&gmail,com> on Sunday November 08, 2009 @05:19AM (#30020270) Journal

    It's actually got a point.

    The main issue appears to be Everquest and the other MMOs they make. These games do not feature reasonable accomodation for visually impaired users. There is only so far you can accomodate visually impaired people in a visual medium, but it's good to go as far as you can without damaging the experience for those with normal vision.

    The lawsuit refers to World of Warcraft and some other games to show that such accomodation is in fact possible in an online video game context at a reasonable cost.

    I'm not sure the ADA actually applies to online games, but if they can convince the court that it does, they seem to have a solid argument for trial.

  • by robson (60067) on Sunday November 08, 2009 @12:28PM (#30023214)
    After reading TFA:

    *It seems mostly focused on MMOs, but doesn't name any specific games.

    *"Visually impaired" is not a euphemism for "blind" here - he literally means "people who can see, but not well". So much of the backlash is misguided ("Blind people are suing to play video games? LOLWUT? Next they'll want to drive???!!!?")

    *His list of things that would make a difference are reasonable - high-contrast display modes, audio navigation cues, audio descriptions of items, and the like.

    *HOWEVER... he then proceeds to state that Sony's causing him to LOSE MONEY because he could be selling his in-game items for real-world cash. Ugh.

    So this thing isn't entirely over-the-top, but it definitely falls apart when he argues monetary loss.
  • by Bobartig (61456) on Sunday November 08, 2009 @12:48PM (#30023424) Homepage

    He's complaining about the features of a game, which are a good, or good/service combination, using legislation that specifically targets location based attractions. If he's going after Sony because of its SonyStyle stores, then any possible equitable remedy would also apply to every store that has a game kiosk, or anything interactive at all, like the easy listening CD machine at Bed Bath and Beyond.

    Personally, I really, really hope that this case is dismissed. First, for inapplicability of the statute, but more importantly so that game developers are not saddled with the additional economic burden of adding disability compliance to all games. The mechanics of a video game are not like walking up a ramp, including a braille menu, or using the bathroom. They are varied, and hinge fundamentally on a wide variety of combinations of audio and visual stimuli that cannot generally be summed in a way to make them equally accessible given some sensory impairment. There is no single, predictable means of meeting such a requirement, adding more uncontrollable variable cost to game development, leading to less ambitious titles, less experimentation among developers, less development time and resources for the core functionality of the game. Having been a software developer, a game developer, and now a legal scholar, this just seems bad, bad, bad.

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