Jihad Al-Mofadda, a PlayStation gamer living in Saudi Arabia, had used the PlayStation Network since 2010 with a PSN ID named "iJihaD." Only recently was it reported as offensive, resulting in a ban for Al-Mofadda.
The ban suspended Al-Mofadda's access to more than 180 games, he said, and though PSN later restored his rights, it had to do so under a new username.
In an e-mail interview with Polygon, Al-Mofadda said he'd had his PSN account under the ID "iJihaD" for about six years. After being banned, on grounds that "jihad" was an offensive word in violation of PSN's terms of service, Al-Mofadda said he lost full or partial access to his games library, in some cases losing save files, and in others the games were completely inaccessible.
PlayStation Support initially offered him a chance to change his online ID to avoid the ban, but after several days they retracted that offer and insisted that the ban remain permanent.
Al-Mofadda sent PlayStation Support a photo of his passport to prove his legal name, but was again rejected by a representative who said "I can appreciate that your name has many meanings but it has one meaning that a lot of users find offensive."
The conflict attracted wide attention over social media this weekend, reaching the front page of the PlayStation 4 subreddit and rippling through Twitter via Vlambeer's Rami Ismail and Al-Mofadda's hashtags #PSNBANS and #JihadGotBanned,
Hey, @PlayStation. Do everybody a favor & don't ban people because someone didn't understand Arabs have names. https://t.co/f0zyvexskw— Rami Ismail (@tha_rami) June 27, 2016
As the story spread, PlayStation UK contacted Al-Mofadda and offered to let him change his username, an option that is not available to any other PlayStation Network user. Still, Al-Mofadda says, that "has its costs." His trophies are still not syncing properly and his friends list and social interactions are gone. He may also have to contact some publishers directly in order to reactivate certain games.
Al-Mofadda stated he was amazed by the response he received from the gaming community. Many were "extremely supportive and outraged" regarding his situation and shared similar stories about past PSN bans.
Polygon reached out to Sony for comment but none was received as of publication time.