Usernames are a solid supporting argument of why we don’t let children choose their own names. We outgrow them, or simply grow tired of them, or change them to promote a different image of ourselves – I, for example, didn’t want to be known as phantompirate2019 my entire life. Lucky for me, Xbox allows players to change their gamertags. Sony, however, does not, despite players asking for a name change feature for years. If name changes were allowed, things would’ve been a lot easier for a 26 year old man named Jihad Al-Mofadda.
In a saga that went wild on Reddit and even made it to the front page of r/PS4, Jihad discovered his PlayStation Network account, with the name iJihad, had been permanently banned. According to him, in the email informing him of his permanent ban, the reason was literally [BAN REASON] – a blank space, with no explanation. In a video posted on his Twitter, he attempted to access a game offline, but couldn’t make it past a sign-in screen.
Its True people! If a SONY employee feels like BANNING you, you loose access to your Digital Assets! Even Offline!!! pic.twitter.com/SniJpr6m8q
— جهاد؟! (@iJihad) June 27, 2016
Jihad even provided Sony with his passport, as proof of his name, and explained that his name was based in a non-religious context – “jihad” translates to “struggling & putting an effort in doing something noble, good and highly valued” – but a Player Support Specialist named James responded:
[…] we have to consider the network as a whole and we need to take every ones [sic] feelings into account. I can appreciate that your name has many meanings but it has one meaning that a lot of users find offensive and there for [sic], when a report was submitted the decision to ban your account was taken.
According to GameInformer, and pointed out to Sony by Jihad himself, at least 9,800 other PSN IDs include the name “Jihad,” thus invalidating Sony’s selective termination of Jihad’s account.
Luckily, Jihad is getting a bittersweet ending. After the ensuing viral hailstorm, Sony offered to change his PSN ID, thus restoring his digitally purchased content – however, his trophy progress and social connections will essentially reset to zero. Something’s better than nothing – and the addition of a name change feature on PSN, with a warning system instead of a complete automatic ban, would be best.