More than 3,500 registered sex offenders in New York state have had their online gaming accounts cancelled or restricted. The move is a combination of legal and voluntary measures.
Under state law, sex offenders must now register details of their e-mail addresses and online identities with state officials in the same way as they do with their physical address. The state is now making that information available to online game operators, who can then decide how to respond.
Perhaps unsurprisingly the game firms have chosen to cancel the accounts: there’s no way to tell if they believed this was the right thing to do, or simply feared negative publicity if they didn’t. The firms that have made the move are Apple, Blizzard Entertainment, Disney, Electronic Arts, Microsoft and Warner Brothers.
A total of 3,580 accounts are affected. Not all the cases involved complete bans: some simply involve communications facilities being restricted in some way.
State attorney general Eric Schneiderman said of the move, dubbed “Operation: Game Over” that “together we are making the online community safer for our children, not allowing it to become a 21st century crime scene.”
Although there are three categories of sex offender in the state, marking the perceived risk of reoffending, it appears people in all three categories were included in the crackdown.
The move has had the unintentional effect of showing how popular video gaming, and online gaming in particular are: there are 33,000 registered sex offenders in the state, meaning more than 10 percent have online gaming accounts.
Previous statistics from surveys have suggested as many as 40% of Americans play games online, though this includes children and may also include social games such as Facebook’s Farmville.
[Picture Source: Online Gaming from BigStock]