One of the major hazards of playing games online is that you oftentimes have to deal with some pretty obnoxious folks saying some pretty obnoxious things. Muting options obviously help with this, but they can really only do so much. And while we often hear about the people forced to listen to someone’s inane ramblings, we don’t normally hear about the players whose comments make multiplayer gaming a frequently frustrating experience. Enter one Erik Estavillo.
As GamePolitics reports, Sony recently banned Estavillo’s PlayStation Network access for comments he made while playing Insomniac Games’ FPS Resistance: Fall of Man. Naturally, Estavillo believes this to be a violation of his First Amendment right, which is why he has brought suit against Sony for damages incurred as a result of his banning. (Sadly, the brief doesn’t specify what Estavillo said to cause the banning, but that’s hardly surprising, considering Estavillo filed the suit himself, and doesn’t appear to have legal representation).
Estavillo claims that the banning, combined with his various medical conditions, has caused him $55,000 worth of pain and suffering. According to the brief, Estavillo suffers from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Panic Disorder, depression, Crohn’s Disease and, most importantly, agoraphobia. You see, because of his debilitating fear of crowds, PSN is the “only way the plaintiff can truly socialize with other people.” Well, now we’re getting somewhere.
And if the irreparable personal suffering wasn’t enough, Estavillo is also accusing Sony of stealing money from users by blocking access to PSN cash acquired via PSN Redeem Cards once users have been banned from the service. Sadly, Sony’s PSN user agreement clearly states, “Upon termination for any reason, you will not receive a refund for items, value accumulated on in-game items or any unused balance in your wallet except as expressly provided in this Agreement and to the extent permitted by applicable law.”
As far as whether Sony was within its rights to issue the banning in the first place, a quick glance at the Resistance online user agreement pretty much says it all. “If you violate this Agreement in any manner, SCEA may at its discretion and without notice to you temporarily or permanently block your account and/or reset your stats and/or rankings in this game and any related games.”
Estavillo also alleges that because gamers under 17 years of age are able to play the game online, despite the game’s Mature rating, the entire PSN user agreement system should be deemed nonbinding. This obviously has nothing to do with his particular case, and even if it did, Sony’s user agreement takes care of this issue as well.
Clearly, Estavillo should have focused all of his effort on the pain and suffering claim. Sure it would require significant medical examination to prove, but it’s the only argument of the bunch that even comes close to holding a drop of water. Of course, if Estavillo’s comments were in fact of the inflammatory variety, the whole case is shot anyway. I’ll keep you posted on how this whole thing turns out.
Can you see any way that this guy could win this case?