Microsoft Apologizes to Gay Gamers, Considers Solutions

John Funk

U.N. Owen Was Him?
Dec 20, 2005
20,364
0
0
Microsoft Apologizes to Gay Gamers, Considers Solutions



In the wake of the controversy surrounding a self-identified lesbian being suspended from Xbox Live [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/89739-UPDATE-Microsoft-Disallows-Public-Lesbians-on-Xbox-Live], Microsoft has admitted that its policies - aimed at preventing defamation - are an "inelegant solution," and may be considering alternatives.

When a lesbian gamer named Teresa was suspended from Xbox Live for identifying herself as such in her gamer profile, the story quickly spread across the Internet. It sparked outrage against a long-standing Microsoft policy that forbade gamers from including words like "gay" or "lesbian" in their Gamertags and profiles - even catching people like Richard Gaywood, who just wanted to be able to use his real name.

Speaking to Stephen Totilo of MTV Multiplayer [http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1605966/20090226/story.jhtml], a Microsoft representative explained why the company had the policy, and how - in light of the recent controversy - it might be changing.

The company's policy was to disallow any statement of relationship preference in their profile or Gamertags, heterosexual, homosexual, or otherwise. However, as Stephen Toulouse, program manager for policy and enforcement on Xbox Live, told Totilo, after seeing issues arise like in the cases of Teresa and Mr. Gaywood, the company was "looking into that policy."

While some gamers have suggested that Microsoft simply just allow people to use the word "gay" in their profiles, the problem isn't quite so simple, says Mr. Toulouse. After issues first arose regarding complaints about the use of "gay" in profiles and user names, Toulouse's team combed through the profiles in question and found that in 95% to 98% of the cases, people who used the word were using it in a derogatory sense.

The stated intention of policies like Microsoft's - or Sony's similar fiasco, where typing "gay" or "lesbian" in the company's Home service would be censored to "***" and "*******" - is to prevent defamation and abusive language. However, through the cases of Teresa and Richard Gaywood, Toulouse and his team have come to understand that they need to provide a way for gamers to display their chosen sexuality without the potential for abuse:

"As social media has become more and more of a thing in the past six years, people are wanting to express more and more detail about themselves," Toulouse said.

Totilo had his own suggestion - why not give a checkbox that gamers could fill out if they so chose? - that Toulouse was very receptive to. "I think that's a great idea," he responded. "That's the type of thing we're looking at as a solution ... we want to provide the capability for our users to express relationship preference or gender without a way for it to be misused."


Permalink
 

Lvl 64 Klutz

Crowsplosion!
Apr 8, 2008
2,338
0
0
I like the idea. As much as I hate high school attention whores who claim to be lesbian or bisexual just to seem different, if people really want to do that they should be able to. Plus, it would allow the 10% or so who are legitimate lesbians simply looking for people with, er... similar interests to display that.
 

Rednog

New member
Nov 3, 2008
3,567
0
0
I still say Microsoft should have stuck to their guns. It is somewhat disheartening to always hear people pull out the torches and pitchforks when they feel they have been wronged, but in reality she clearly broke the rules.
In the case of Gaywood being used, that one of those rare out of the blue occurrences and somewhat surprising it made it to the press.
I think that a lot of these problems are created somewhat by people who want attention out of them, yea there is some argument to be made on whether or not Microsoft should allow the use of gay or lesbian in profiles and names. If they do allow it they would have to spend more resources policing the 98% of misuses and 2% of proper uses that get abused by other players. To me this is a huge headache, I think that people need to step back and look at this rationally.
Xbox Live is a place to play games, it is not a place to hook up. While something like stating your sexuality might be appropriate in other games where actions are more intimate most games on the 360 are a few minutes to an hour long at most.

I think some requests of tolerance and or acceptance are reasonable, but when you have to bend over backwards for people who could make simple changes to fix the problem themselves it gets ridiculous.
 

shatnershaman

New member
May 8, 2008
2,627
0
0
Good thing they're are listening (though they had no alternative...) so hopefully we will see these changes.
 

Trivun

Stabat mater dolorosa
Dec 13, 2008
9,831
0
0
Why shouldn't she say that she is lesbian though? I'm glad Microsoft have turned round and decided to review their rules, since there is nothing wrong with expressing yourself, and that includes saying if you are gay or lesbian. If she wanted to admit this, then that's fair enough, and the people who complained have only gone and made it so that people will get more free reign over what they can say about themselves online, which, if we choose to state such things, can only be a good thing.
 

Anton P. Nym

New member
Sep 18, 2007
2,611
0
0
And so the tail begins wagging the dog. *sigh*

I don't think there's a "right" answer to this issue. I think there's a selection of possible answers and that we're going to have to settle for the "least wrong" one. (Let's hope that it does more good than harm.)

-- Steve
 

darthzew

New member
Jun 19, 2008
1,813
0
0
I think is kind of ridiculous. There's no really good reason to broadcast your sexual preference on your Xbox Live profile.

As for Gaywood, well, I'm not sure what Microsoft should do. I'd say they should just do nothing. I mean, it's never really a great idea to put your full name in your profile anyway.
 

Vanguard_Ex

New member
Mar 19, 2008
4,687
0
0
Yeah, ok, I can see why this is being looked into by Microsoft, but to be fair, like Rednog said before me, XBL is just for gaming, it's not a dating site. Besides, it's not like they've censored vital information, she doesn't really need to inform people who look at her profile that she is a lesbian. Like anyone gives a shit anyway?
 

John Funk

U.N. Owen Was Him?
Dec 20, 2005
20,364
0
0
Yeah, Ima go ahead and side with the "why the fuck do we need to know your sexuality" group. Its only a issue with gays and lesbians. How often do straight people feel the need to advertise. Plus well, I like blue cheese. Why don't all gaming sites have a special section for what my favourite cheese is?

As for the name thing perhaps a auto checker and those that do not pass get sent to a human to read and choose to validate or not.
 

Legion

Were it so easy
Oct 2, 2008
7,190
0
0
Microsoft were wrong to ban her and should definitely change their system in order to review people before banning. The pricks who reported her can jump off a cliff or run into a knife.

Having said that, I do not see why she felt the need to advertise it on xbox, it's just attention seeking - Nobody in an online game needs to know your sexuality; discussing it in chat with a friend is expressing yourself, telling randoms something completely irrelevant and potentially controversial is attention seeking.

It's also foolish seeing as the must be aware of just how pathetic the majority of live players are anyway.

Edit: This goes for people of all sexualities, I don't particularly care about "that hot chick you done last night" either.
 

calelogan

New member
Jun 15, 2008
221
0
0
Let's hope for the best.

Although it would be nice if some people grew up and stopped using "gay" in a derogatory sense.

It's just curious...of course you should be allowed to express your sexual affinity, but at the same time, is it THAT necessary in a Halo 3 match (for example)?
 

Amisbro

New member
Nov 26, 2008
43
0
0
Alrighty here's my take on this issue:

I'm reminded some years ago about a T-shirt that said "Censorship is UNAmerican" with a picture of a person's hand covering another person's mouth and I felt that it applies here.

Why? First off for some people it takes a lot of guts to come out and even ADMIT that they are gay or a lesbian and they, in my honest opinion should be applauded for it and not ridiculed, blasted, or in this case banned from an online gaming service because they felt it was necessary to put their sexual preference in a profile. Last I checked America is supposed to be the "Land of the free and the home of the brave" and Microsoft was founded by an American. When you read something like this it makes you wonder.

Gaywood was the dude's last name, so....what's he supposed to do about that? Last I checked he can't do much about it simply because its his last name right? As far as Teresa...its an odd situation because gamers are allowed to talk crap to each other and even if someone reports it they more than likely won't do anything until its mass people bitching but one person wants to put something in their profile about themselves and they get suspended/banned?!

Welcome to America

f***in' A!
 

Erana

New member
Feb 28, 2008
8,010
0
0
Lvl 64 Klutz said:
I like the idea. As much as I hate high school attention whores who claim to be lesbian or bisexual just to seem different, if people really want to do that they should be able to. Plus, it would allow the 10% or so who are legitimate lesbians simply looking for people with, er... similar interests to display that.
I hate philosiphy of LUGs. (Lesbians until graduation)


I think that people need to learn that the derrogatory use of, "Gay" and related words is bad. Sensoring it is just plain stupid, however; it enforces the idea that it is bad or profane. Instead, they should automatically insert something to the effect of, "In all liklihood, I am being a jerk towards homosexual people" here, or something like that, just to teach 'em a lesson. >=D
 

John Funk

U.N. Owen Was Him?
Dec 20, 2005
20,364
0
0
I still say the people who stalked and harrassed her should be banned - for good.
calelogan said:
Let's hope for the best.

Although it would be nice if some people grew up and stopped using "gay" in a derogatory sense.

It's just curious...of course you should be allowed to express your sexual affinity, but at the same time, is it THAT necessary in a Halo 3 match (for example)?
It was just on her profile. I dunno how Live works, but unless it shows your profile for all to see, it was probably just people who checked hers out after beating her/being beaten by her.
Then they presumably got their homophobe friends and started a party.

EDIT:
Vanguard_Ex said:
Yeah, ok, I can see why this is being looked into by Microsoft, but to be fair, like Rednog said before me, XBL is just for gaming, it's not a dating site. Besides, it's not like they've censored vital information, she doesn't really need to inform people who look at her profile that she is a lesbian. Like anyone gives a shit anyway?
Maybe she wanted to make gay or lesbian friends? Or maybe she didn't want to end up friends with someone who was massively against gay rights? Again, I don't know how Live works.
 

Valiance

New member
Jan 14, 2009
3,823
0
0
Well, I posted in the previous thread about this (it involved how I felt upon the subject) and I believe that the proposed Checkbox idea would be perfect.

You can express yourself in your profile, but people can't misuse the word.
 

bitzi61

New member
Jan 28, 2009
227
0
0
Alright. Here's my 2 cents.

1) NOONE needs to know your preference. Yes, congrats on the fact you are comfortable with your sexuality (I having some gay friends who took quite a while to come out, and I am quite happy they did!), but this does not mean that you need to advertise it on a gaming system.

2) As for names, Mr. Gaywood should not be using his full name on something like XBL (They warn you, as ANY online site would, that using your real full name is a good way to get into trouble), however, if they feel it necessary to do it, then they should be able to message XBL support staff to have their INDIVIDUAL cases reviewed, and possibly changed.

This situation should not be carte blanche to do anything you want with your name. Lets "open the gates" and next thing you know, Neo-Nazi's will say we are tramping on their rights if they use names on XBL like "J^$killer" and stuff like that..