Visually impaired gamer sues Sony

It’s tough to be blind or visually impaired. I think we can all agree that that is a true enough statement. You probably miss out on a lot of great things. Playing videogames would be one of those things that completely blind people miss out on (unless they’ve mastered echolocation), but what about those who are only visually impaired and want to play games? Shouldn’t they be considered when game designers make games? A new lawsuit filed against Sony thinks as much.

Disabled gamer Alexander Stern filed suit against Sony, Sony Online Entertainment, and Sony Computer Entertainment America in the United States District Court for the Central District of California. He alleges that Sony is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by not implementing any features that make their games accessible to visually impaired gamers. The suit claims that despite repeated requests via e-mail and snail mail Sony has completely denied the idea of making reasonable modifications to their games in order to make them more friendly to those with “disability impaired visual processing.”

No specific games are mentioned, but the general gist of the suit seems to be leaning towards MMO and Sony’s lack of visual cues in the game. It also points to other games that do help the visually impaired, like World of Warcraft, which allows the use of third-party mods and thus has many mods that help the visually impaired play the game.

Even more shocking is the lawsuit’s contention that Sony’s lack of support for the visually impaired has cost the visually impaired community money. Since Sony runs an official auction site where gamers can sell all of their in-game loot for real money those who cannot fully participate in the games, like the visually impaired, cannot make money. The suit says that Stern’s inability to do this has cost him money. 

Sony doesn’t comment on pending litigation, but aside from the monetary loss I’m pretty inclined to agree with Mr. Stern. Seems to me that many of his issues could have been fixed with a simple patch, and I think anyone who played Lost Odyssey on a standard definition screen would agree that being able to properly see and interact with your games is highly important.

Matthew Razak