Microsoft Okays Sexual Orientation in Gamertags

Andy Chalk

One Flag, One Fleet, One Cat
Nov 12, 2002
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Microsoft Okays Sexual Orientation in Gamertags


More than a year after the "gay Gamertag" controversy, Microsoft has updated the terms and conditions of Xbox Live [http://www.xbox.com/live] to allow user to "freely express their race, nationality, religion and sexual orientation" in their Gamertags and profiles.

Back in February 2009, an Xbox Live user by the name of Teresa found herself The Consumerist [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/89739-UPDATE-Microsoft-Disallows-Public-Lesbians-on-Xbox-Live] describing her ordeal, which led Xbox Live Policy Director Stephen Toulouse to respond, "Expression of any sexual orientation (straight or gay or otherwise) is not allowed in Gamertags. However we've heard from the user base they want that capability, so I am examining how we can provide it in a way that wont get misused. I can't say any more at the moment, except to say I'm working right now in finding a way to safely express relationship preference."

In July, Toulouse represented Microsoft at a Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/93197-EA-Hosting-Panel-on-Homophobia-in-Gaming], which GLAAD said would look at "such issues as how to provide safe spaces for LGBT people online, how to ensure the best policies are in place to prevent virtual attacks against LGBT people and how to educate the users of online communities about the effects of homophobia." Now, more than a year later, all that examining and discussing appears to have paid off.

"I'd like to announce an update to the Xbox Live message posted on Xbox.com [http://www.xbox.com/en-US/legal/codeofconduct.htm]. "Under our previous policy, some of these expressions of self-identification were not allowed in Gamertags or profiles to prevent the use of these terms as insults or slurs. However we have since heard feedback from our customers that while the spirit of this approach was genuine, it inadvertently excluded a part of our Xbox Live community."

Whitten said the updated policy would also implement "increased stringency and enforcement" to prevent the misuse of potentially objectionable terms, and there are some restrictions: Orientation descriptors are limited to "lesbian," "gay," "bi," "transgender" and "straight." Naturally, the use of such terms or their less family-friendly variants to hassle other gamers is strictly verboten.

"I truly believe that our diversity is what makes us strong," Whitten wrote. "Diversity in gaming and entertainment options, and diversity in the people that make up this amazing community."



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Jan 15, 2010
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Well good for Microsoft It's nice to see that they're letting people express themselves. Also anyone else thinking about Apocalypse Lane...
 

crimson5pheonix

It took 6 months to read my title.
Legacy
Jun 6, 2008
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MaxChaos said:
A Gay-mertag, eh?
Puns will not be tolerated. I'm afraid you must be sent through the rehabilitator for your own good and the good of all.

OT: Neat.
 

Xersues

DRM-free or give me death!
Dec 11, 2009
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Gamertags are not MySpace. Seriously, no one cares about your orientation, race or otherwise. I understand people want to connect, so I can see region for ping/server quality, and languages for finding people that you can understand.

Thats it. No use in adding special fields for it. Then again, if you ask about a person and they put in that info, its even dumber to make them edit it. Adding in that kind of info is just more grounds for petty kicks/bans/mocking and a whole lot of "isms".
 

Dogmeat T Dingo

New member
Sep 4, 2008
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I'm still baffled as to why people care so much about these things on XBL. I mean I don't think I'd put my orientation on there, considering I'd be holding up a sign in front of XBL's largely pre-teen, shrieking user base that says "I'm part of a minority which is still socially acceptable to slander". They do NOT need the encouragement.

Also who even looks at gamertags? All I know about what's written on someone's gamertag is their handle because it's usually above them in the game I'm playing. I'm not interested in what people's religions are when I'm playing a video game.
 

Orange Monkey

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Mar 16, 2009
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Hmm well I applaude Microsoft for really trying to make the LGBT community welcome. And speaking as a Gay gamer myself it really warms my heart to see all the horrible things that we have to put up with brought to light. But I wonder if these alterations to policy will actually change anything... Most gay people I know are extremely wary of letting their sexualities known online, it can be a cruel and unforgiving world.
 

warbaloon

New member
Aug 11, 2009
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So announcing that you are gay is ok but it's not ok to announce other fetishes...
Why do I think that this is a double standard?
 

Onyx Oblivion

Borderlands Addict. Again.
Sep 9, 2008
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Aww....I can't tell people what kinda kinky shit I'm into?

Well, at least the gay community can show themselves to the rampant homophobia online.

Seriously...the only insult used on XBL is calling the other player "gay".
 

Xersues

DRM-free or give me death!
Dec 11, 2009
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Orange Monkey said:
Hmm well I applaude Microsoft for really trying to make the LGBT community welcome. And speaking as a Gay gamer myself it really warms my heart to see all the horrible things that we have to put up with brought to light. But I wonder if these alterations to policy will actually change anything... Most gay people I know are extremely wary of letting their sexualities known online, it can be a cruel and unforgiving world.
I applaud you for being honest on these forums. I'm heterosexual. If you and I played games together, how does where we get our jollies off really affect our temporary gaming relationship? It really wouldn't unless I was a prick that suddenly didn't like you because I found that out.

Granted if you said a bunch of smacktalk about fornicating my Grandma like in a recent moderator debacle I'd know you didn't enjoy it. ;)
 

Dogmeat T Dingo

New member
Sep 4, 2008
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warbaloon said:
So announcing that you are gay is ok but it's not ok to announce other fetishes...
Why do I think that this is a double standard?
orientation =/= fetish

Seriously, you may as well say that straight men have a "women fetish".

But I do agree that this move is largely irrelevant, if anything I think it's just Microsoft trying to make XBL into the next Facebook. It certainly seems that way nowadays, I left XBL not long after the 360 was launched, maybe a year or so, and when I see friends using it now I hardly recognize it. They've made it look like a social networking site now.
 
Dec 14, 2009
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Xersues said:
Orange Monkey said:
Hmm well I applaude Microsoft for really trying to make the LGBT community welcome. And speaking as a Gay gamer myself it really warms my heart to see all the horrible things that we have to put up with brought to light. But I wonder if these alterations to policy will actually change anything... Most gay people I know are extremely wary of letting their sexualities known online, it can be a cruel and unforgiving world.
I applaud you for being honest on these forums. I'm heterosexual. If you and I played games together, how does where we get our jollies off really affect our temporary gaming relationship? It really wouldn't unless I was a prick that suddenly didn't like you because I found that out.

Granted if you said a bunch of smacktalk about fornicating my Grandma like in a recent moderator debacle I'd know you didn't enjoy it. ;)
Agreed, unfortunately, the vast majority of the public are stupid, and stupid people do stupid things.
 

Dublin Solo

New member
Feb 18, 2010
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What exactly does the sexual orientation have to do with gaming online, exactly? I must have missed a very important meeting sometime in the last few years.

Does the color of the skin matter as well? And wether we're left-wing or right-wing?
 

bjj hero

New member
Feb 4, 2009
3,180
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I wonder how understanding they would be if my gamertag said I was into chicks with donkeys?

On the plus side I don't think you should ever be punished for saying you are homosexual. We've moved on in the last 20 years or so. About time MS.
 

axle 19

Bearer of the Necronomicon
Aug 2, 2008
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They already have facebook on the xbox. What's the point of adding content to the gamertag bio when you can just use facebook?
 

Baby Tea

Just Ask Frankie
Sep 18, 2008
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Xersues said:
Gamertags are not MySpace. Seriously, no one cares about your orientation, race or otherwise.
I don't think it's about other people, I think it's about showing pride for one's religion, sexual orientation, or ethnicity. For instance, I have in my profile that I'm a 'Christian gamer', and I have it there because it says something about myself (Which is the point of a 'bio' section, unless I'm mistaken).

Likewise, a gay gamer, a Hispanic gamer, or a Hindu gamer all might want to express those things in their gamertags or profiles because their sexual orientation, religion, or ethnicity is a part of who they are, regardless of whether or not people care.

On topic: Good! I applaud the LIVE team for doing this, and I hope the moderation of the inevitable abuse of this is swift and deadly.