In July of 2019, RuneScape player and streamer Anro Elansari was “muted” from the game, which he claims to have streamed for over 2,000 hours. He appealed his punishment, and when it was denied, he did what any sensible person would do: He sued Jagex and its parent company at the time of the incident, Shanghai Fukong Interactive Entertainment.
That has not gone well for Elansari, a former law student who has also sued, among others, the United States Marine Corps for not letting him enlist. In his initial suit, he laid out — via handwriting — his complaints, which included “breach of contract” and “violation of due process, discrimination/free speech, human rights.” It was dismissed by Judge Mark A. Kearney, “for failure to state plausible claims.” The judge called his complaint “so confused, ambiguous, vague, or otherwise unintelligible that its true substance, if any, is well disguised.”
In true litigious fashion, Elansari appealed the decision, which was also struck down last week by three circuit judges in California. In this appeal, Elansari re-iterated his discrimination claim, invoking the Fourteenth Amendment. The court responded thusly:
“Even generously construing Elansari’s complaint … at no point either in the District Court or on appeal has Elansari alleged losing access to Jagex’s online game due to discrimination based on any of the ground protected by Title II.”
Title II of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination in public areas (hotels, movie theaters, etc.) based on race or other factors. Whether an online game counts as such a public area might be questionable.
To be fair to Elansari, he claims that Jagex offered no explanation for the action taken against him. We contacted Jagex to try and learn more, and the company responded that, while it can’t comment on this particular case, “Mutes can be avoided by following the RuneScape rules, which are in place to keep RuneScape a safe and — above all — enjoyable space.”
But even taking that into account, especially given his litigious background, it’s unlikely that Elansari was punished due to his race and more likely that he simply misbehaved in the game and got hit with the banhammer — or mutehammer, in this case — the same as countless other misbehaving players. Somehow, I don’t think Jagex will be in any hurry to lift the restrictions on his account.