You Don’t Have a Legal Right to Speak in Video Games



When it comes to combining the deadly serious with the delightfully absurd, there’s nothing better than a video game lawsuit. Where else do you see legal battles about who invented what virtual reality headset, whether or not Fortnite is addictive as cocaine, or a company suing the makers of the tech that makes their smash success popular in the first place. That’s not to say issues surrounding video games aren’t worth arguing in court. After all, it was a Supreme Court case that ruled that games are protected speech. It’s just funny that video games allowed Antonin Scalia of all people to be celebrated in a vacuum… or in a game about befriending sexy young justices.

And now a new lawsuit has answered a question raging chatterboxes on Xbox Live have had for years. Does constitutional freedom of speech extend to your right to speak over online multiplayer without being muted? The answer, thankfully, is of course not.

As reported by Vice, Runescape streamer Amro Elansari sued developer Jagex after they permanently muted him. After spending thousands of hours in the game, you can see why he would be upset to lose his voice in an MMO, a genre that especially relies on player communication. However, bad unwanted communication also hurts player experiences. And if Jagex felt muting Elansari would improve the game overall, then that’s what they are going to do.

And that’s what they have the legal right to do. After filing multiple lawsuits and appeals throughout 2019, Elansari heard time and again that first amendment freedom of speech rights don’t apply to private enterprises like this. And since the Runescape developers weren’t muting him based on protected characteristics like race or religion, his discrimination claims were similarly baseless. Not helping his case was a history of frivolous lawsuits like, say, being scammed on Tinder.

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Voice chat in video games largely sucks. It’s so easy for things to get super toxic. I mute everyone just for my own mental health. So if that bothers you too bad. The courts aren’t on your side.





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