Xbox LIVE Talks Gays


Posted February 27, 2009 - By Stephen Johnson

Xbox Live

The latest controversy in the world of online gaming: How do you deal with gays and lesbians on Xbox LIVE?

It all started with a post on The Consumerist where a lesbian user of LIVE reported being harassed by other players and eventually got suspended from LIVE because she identified herself as a lesbian in her profile. Understandably, many open-minded members of the online community were outraged. It caused enough of a stir to get Microsoft to explain its policy regarding sexual orientation:

Our current policy for Gamertags and Profiles does not allow expression of sexual orientation under the Terms of Use. That applies to *any* orientation, straight or gay or otherwise. Gamers can however self identify their orientation in voice chat, where context for their statements can be provided.

That's from Stephen Toulouse, head of the team that handles policy for the LIVE service. Toulouse goes on to explain the unique problems facing the use of the word "gay," currently verboten on LIVE. Basically, Microsoft is in a very difficult spot. "Gay" is a tricky word for them: Whether it's an insult or self-identification depends on who's using it and how they're saying it. From Toulouse's post:

Some people say, “Hey it’s easy, just stop banning instances of the word ‘Gay." We looked at that as a solution, the problem is when reviewing the complaint data historical record, we found that 95+% of the uses of the word “Gay” were pejorative.

So you see the problem...

As it stands, the issue is up in the air. Nobody has a solution, however, both Microsoft and Sony are working with Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation to come up with a workable solution. Nothing has been resolved yet, but it seems like everyone is working on developing a sane and rational policy.

I have a idea that will solve the whole problem. It's a single sentence policy that, if adopted, would not only allow for gays and lesbians to participate online without fear of harassment. It would also improve the online gaming life of everyone else. Here it is: "Don't be a jerk." 

Everyone on LIVE and PlayStation Network should immediately stop being jerks. If you need a guide to non-jerkiness, here you go: When you're online and about to say something to a stranger, you should ask yourself: "Is this the kind of thing a jerk would say?" If the answer is "yes," you shouldn't say it. It's that easy. If you don't like gay people, shut up about it. No one cares what you think.

Also, it's 2009, people. Can't we leave insulting gays where it belongs -- in the 1950s? Some of our greatest entertainers, sports figures, political leaders, auto mechanics and hair dressers are gay. If gays and lesbians want to play Halo with you, just play the game and be respectful of your fellow human being. Is that so hard? Let's all be cool and accept everyone. Then we won't have these problems and we can all play games in peace and harmony like a bunch of damn hippies.  Plus, do you seriously want fewer lesbians around? Are you crazy??

PS: TheFeed's comment policy includes "not being a jerk." Racial slurs, homophobia, insulting gays and lesbians on the basis of their sexual orientation, personal insults against other users and other jerky behavior in our comment section will be punished by your comments getting deleted and swinging our mighty +12 Hammer of Bannination. We will decide what is insulting and jerky. Keep this in mind as you post below!

Xbox LIVE Talks Gays


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