For those of us in our 20-somethings, we've probably been gaming since before we can even remember. The generations of gamers after us have almost certainly been gaming their entire lives as well. All together, we can probably recall those moments when we created our first usernames. I was active in online forums before I was able to afford consoles or PC systems that required usernames, so mine carried over from there. It was unique to me, because it came from a random name generator that I then used on forums (shout-out to the LotR Fanatics Plaza!). But for a lot of us, myself included, we also created usernames of our own, and they were generally silly, nonsensical, or otherwise embarrassing. To this day I still use my middle school email address for a lot of things. Hint: I liked tigers back then.
But let me move on to the point at hand. Middle school April put an innocent tiger reference into her username, but others might pick something that isn't quite so innocent. Preteen and teenage gamers undoubtedly like to pick things that we think are funny at the time, which might include dick or fart jokes. In other cases it might involve seemingly witty variations of swear words, because, “Oooh, you can't say a bad word!” But these usernames, and the silly teenage choices that created them, are really a part of growing up in a digital age. As we grow up, we'll obviously start thinking we'd have a different name, but oftentimes we hang on to the accounts because of what we've acquired there, or for nostalgia's sake.
In the case of PlayStation users, it's most often because of what has been amassed in the account. PlayStation usernames are not allowed to be changed, and there's no way to transfer content to new accounts if we wish to have a different name. So things like trophies that have been collected, downloadable content that has been purchased, and even entire games that we've bought digital copies of cannot be moved or otherwise transferred. This is a major issue, especially when something happens to jeopardize our (sometimes) life's collection of digital stuff. One PlayStation user, like many of us, created his PlayStation account when he was 12. Now he sees his online ID as something that is of course stupid, but way back when, he didn't know any better. Eight years after the creation of said ID, PlayStation has suddenly banned his account for the name.
Of course, something like KingMADAFAKA is technically against PlayStation's Code of Conduct. But let's look at two things here. First off, Sony allowed this username to exist for eight long years. It wasn't noticed or acted upon by anyone from Sony until eight years after the fact. That means, as far as that user was concerned, their username was fine and everything was great. The second thing that is even more bothersome is the fact that everything related to that account is now gone. Every trophy that this player has earned and every dollar they have spent on any digital goods like DLC, games, avatars, themes are all gone. Even after contacting PlayStation Support, they were simply told that their account was banned for life, there was no way to change the online ID associated with it, and they would need to create a new PlayStation account.
Other companies, like Microsoft and even Nintendo, have the ability to change your usernames. If something crazy like this happens, where your name slips through the cracks for years on end, you can simply change it and continue your gaming life. The fact that Sony does not include the same option is frankly mind-boggling. Especially when we're talking about cases like that of King.
Let's look at it differently. Say you bought a house and moved all your furniture and worldly belongings into it. Maybe you run into some financial trouble, and the house is reclaimed by the bank. Then, that bank goes even further to say that you are not allowed to have any of your furniture, electronics, or personal mementos. Rightly, you would be very upset and consider this completely unethical.
The same can be said of digital belongings and personal mementos (gamer score, DLC, trophies, games, avatars, achievements, etc.). To have them taken away from you because negative action was taken against your account is unethical and wrong no matter, how you look at it. In my opinion, even if someone is banned for breaking multiple rules and harassing other players, they should still be given access to their purchases. You can't just take away someone's belongings because they were being a jerk.
It's high time that Sony brings PlayStation accounts into the present. The option to change your username should absolutely be there for things silly like a username not being acceptable. I'd go even further as to say that other banned accounts should be allowed to transfer purchased content to new ones. Limit or ban the new account from social services, but at least allow them to retain the things they spent hard earned money on. Imagine if you woke up to an email saying that the hundreds of dollars you spend on a PlayStation account were lost in a moment due to a silly mistake. I don't know about all of you, but I would be absolutely devastated.