Microsoft: ‘It’s hard to police Xbox homophobia’

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Xbox Live policy manager Stephen Toulouse has given further explanation of why gamers cannot use the word ‘gay’ in their profiles or gamertags.

According to Eurogamer, Mr Toulouse said the problem was in determining was a slur or not when used in game.

When asked why Microsoft doesn’t just allow the use of the word, and take action against those who use it pejoratively, as it does against those who use racist language, he said:

“The challenge in this case is that the words themselves are both used as slurs and not.

“No one uses, as an insult, ‘You’re a black man.’ Instead they use the n-word, which as an aside is of course forbidden as well.

“Unfortunately it’s harder to define identification from abuse with sexual orientation.

“Consider the gamertag ‘Bobisgay’. Is the person calling someone named Bob gay? Or is the gamertag owned by Bob and he is referring to himself in the third-person?”

Mr Toulouse added that Xbox Live’s policy team were working on finding “ways to allow customers to express themselves in ways that cannot be misused”, rather than applying a policy the current situation.

Last week, a player revealed that she had been harassed by other players and subsequently banned from playing Xbox Live online because her open lesbianism “offended” other players.

Teresa said: “Microsoft does nothing to stop this or prevent it, but instead sides with the homophobes.

“No one will help me get the word out about Microsoft’s anti-gay policy. Not even the HRC who says Microsoft has a positive image with them. Not to me it doesn’t.”

A survey published in 2007 found that online gamers face a homophobic culture.

The Gaymer Survey, conducted at the University of Illinois and involving over 10,000 respondents, found that gay gamers experienced a high level of homophobic attitudes and language.

88% of respondents said that they had heard the phrase “that’s so gay.”

84% said that the word ‘gay’ had been used in a derogatory way.

Over half of the respondents felt that gays were stereotyped, 52% found gaming worlds to be hostile to gay and lesbian gamers, while 42% felt that gays were under-represented.

Only a minority of participants (9%) claimed that they had never encountered anti-gay remarks.

The Gaymer Survey is still ongoing. Click here for more information.

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