Sex Offenders Barred from Online Gaming

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]

5 Responses to Sex Offenders Barred from Online Gaming

  1. I am concerned since you can end up on the sex offender list for having mooned someone in high school/college or for having tinkled in the wrong place and been seen. Some of the people on the list are not predators, not violent, have never used the internet to lure in a victim, have never been busted for anything else before or since and yet they are being swept up with the same broom.

    Sounds like another election year tactic to me – it get big headlines to jump up and down about child molesters. As long as it makes a big noise who cares if a few people who are stuck on that list For Life, regardless of how minor the incident that put them there was or how many years they have been a fine upstanding person since, get swept up with the truly violent, predatory people who should be there? After all, its for the election!

  2. Really a dumb law and amazing failure on those game companies to decide to purge sex offenders from their companies. Sex offenders are a serious threat, don’t get me me wrong, but by removing an ability to focus on something else that they can derive pleasure from without sexual tendencies or even fantasy tendencies, it doesn’t become a crime until you act on it in real life. Sure its a possible threat but by stomping on a threat before it becomes a threat just shows how insecure you are about freedom and bring us one step closer to another loss of freedom for the rest of the world. And like Aynne said, not all sex offenders are what people crack them up to be, innocent pranks and mistakes end up costing people their status and livelihood for something that might have happened when they were intoxicated. The ramifications of this law is insane.

    • This.

      So they've got a list of sex offenders… and their idea is to take away the things they do INSTEAD of going out and repeating the offence.

      I can see this working.

  3. I bet 90% of the games they were banned from were rated M, just another case of parents being too lazy to parent making laws do it for them.

    • 'The firms that have made the move are Apple, Blizzard Entertainment, Disney, Electronic Arts, Microsoft and Warner Brothers.'
      All of which the majority of material produced cater to children or a family environment.

      Having offenders banned from M (18+ UK) makes zero sense for these companies. Why would they choose to lose money for nothing? The most likely scenario is services have been cut or restricted where games are obviously catered to a younger audience. This is simply implementing a proactive rather than reactive solution, there's plenty of other games out there.

      However I do agree with Aynne Price Morison. There is no indication that severity is taken into account, imo it should be

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