GameSpot reports that a man has sued Sony, Sony Online Entertainment and Sony Computer Entertainment of America, contending the company violates the Americans with Disabilities Act for not making its virtual worlds more easily navigable by the visually impaired.
The nature of Alexander Stern's visual impairment isn't clear from the report, whether that is total blindness or partial blindness, or some other form of sight disability. But his suit, filed in federal court in California, claims that Sony has ignored repeated requests to modify its games - the suit seems to focus on SOE's MMOs - and that the realms Sony maintains here are essentially public accommodations as defined by the ADA.
Stern repeatedly asked Sony for the addition of visual cues to point out destinations for gamers with "disability impaired visual processing." The suit mentions World of Warcraft and another game that, through the allowance of third-party modifications or other features, make their games more accessible to the visually impaired.
There's also a claim that by not making accommodations for the visually impaired, Sony essentially deprives Stern and others of fair participation in selling off in-game items over SOE's official auction site.
Sony told GameSpot it doesn't comment on pending litigation.
Whatever the merits of the suit, and I'm sure our team of lawyers will robustly discuss them in the comments below, the action is intriguing to me in that it seems to depend on finding a virtual environment is a public accommodation. I can't even begin to argue coherently that it is or isn't or should or should not be. A judge could find that an MMO is a public accommodation and Stern could still lose, but such a ruling could have larger ramifications that outlive this case, for more than just Sony.
Visually Impaired Gamer Sues Sony Online [GameSpot, thanks Roberto E.]