New York State Sex Offenders Get the Banhammer

New York State Sex Offenders Get the Banhammer

Real world actions really CAN have an effect on how you play.

Who here has ever been banned from a game?  You can put your hands down, you’re reading and I can’t really see them so you probably look ridiculous.  What have you been banned for?  Cheating?  Modding?  Buying accounts made by children in Chinese sweat shops?  Well whatever the reason, it probably didn’t have to do with your real-life criminal record, but all of that is about to change.

New York State, in conjunction with Microsoft, Blizzard, and Sony have begun to remove registered sex offenders from online games.  So far, 3,580 accounts have been banned from online games, or had their privileges to go out and meet new people online, revoked.  The New York attorney general, Eric Scheiderman, stated that the bans were part of something he called “Operation: Game Over.”

The state worked along with Blizzard, Sony, Disney, Warner Bros., Microsoft, and Apple to remove accounts of the registered sex offenders from their products.  The companies were all willing to help try to remove potential threats from their social networks and to try to protect younger gamers from outside threats.  Microsoft VP and deputy general counsel Rich Wallis stated that, “At Microsoft, we continually evaluate ways to manage safety for our 40 million Xbox Live members and particularly for children on our service.”  He went on to say that, “Our partnership with the Office of the New York Attorney General helps further this cause.”  Even the newly crowned “Most hated company” EA got involved saying that “This was an [Entertainment Software Association] initiative; EA is a member.”

In my opinion, I think this is a good thing.  It’s always nice to know that I can get on XBL and only worry about being harassed and have my sexuality questioned by 12 year olds instead of being hunted down by some 40+ year old perv, but at the same time this ban worries me.  It all ties back to censorship in one way or another; this time it’s for a good reason and with a good cause, but what’s to stop them from going further?  What if all of these companies and state departments start with things that they know the public will support, such as removing sexual offenders, but then they start to branch out and the public allows it because they assume its for a good cause again.  I can see this becoming a nightmare where your XBL account gets shut down until you pay your driving tickets or your PSN account is killed until you find a job in order to prevent people from sitting around all day playing video games while collecting unemployment.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for protecting our children online, God knows they aren’t watching out for themselves, but what is to come from actions like the ones we’re seeing today?

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