Gay Xbox Live Gamers May Now Spell It Out

By  |  Friday, March 5, 2010 at 3:42 pm

Microsoft took a bold step today by letting gamers include their sexual orientation in their Xbox Live nicknames, or Gamertags.

Previously, Microsoft deemed the words “gay,” “straight,” “lesbian,” “bi” and “transgender” to be unacceptable, fearing that players would use them in a derogatory way. Those fears are justified to anyone who spends a few hours playing Modern Warfare 2 or Halo 3. Anonymity does some revolting things to human behavior.

Players’ Gamertags can now include all the words mentioned above, but the service’s updated code of conduct strictly limits the terminology to those five words only. Marc Whitten, Xbox Live’s general manager, explained Microsoft’s reasoning in an open letter:

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.

It took a while to get here. In 2008, a player named theGAYERgamer made his case public after Microsoft banned his Gamertag. In late February, a player claimed her account was suspended because her profile said she is a lesbian. This prompted a blog post from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, among other responses, so I’m guessing Microsoft finally felt there was enough pressure to make some policy changes.

Whitten promised that the code of conduct will be enforced more stringently to prevent misuse of the terms. That probably entails taking a closer look at Gamertags to make sure they’re not being used as insults. But the real hard part will be monitoring players’ responses to these nicknames. Hopefully Xbox Live’s moderators can do a better job of booting people who toss around homophobic, ethnic and racial slurs without fear of repercussion.


Read more: , ,

3 Comments For This Post

  1. NanoGeek Says:

    What I don’t understand is why these people feel they need to tell everyone about their private life. Why do they think we even want or need to know?

  2. davidgrn Says:

    I guess they feel that this is a part of their personality that they wish to express. To find that they could not express it, or worse when they did to have their accounts closed is not good. What Micorosft have done has made Xbox Live a more realsistic place today (for a gaming environment). But as the article says “Anonymity does some revolting things to human behavior.” LGBT people who take this decision may get some flack and unfortunately it may be very derogatory given some of the company they’re in.
    However I think the overall message is a positive one. If you want to say you’re LBGT you can and now Microsoft has enabled people to do so.

  3. Hamranhansenhansen Says:

    > Anonymity does some revolting things to human behavior.

    People don’t have to be anonymous to express their homophobia, unfortunately.

    > What I don’t understand is why these people feel they need
    > to tell everyone about their private life.

    Who you fall in love with or who you are dating or are married to is part of your public life. Also when a small majority of the people in your state vote to take your basic human rights away because you’re LGBT, that is part of public life. A public square that doesn’t require you to pretend to be straight is part of public life. It has to do with many, many things other than sex.

    > Why do they think we even want or need to know?

    LOL! You’re killing me!

    First, the main reason people want or need to know is so they can date the right people. How does an LGBT person find another LGBT person? Earrings? Every subtle cue from the past has already been adopted by straight people. If you send the typical straight American back in time 20 years they would get gay-bashed within 5 minutes of arriving just for the way they look. So LGBT people really do want or need to know if other people are LGBT so they can avoid going around hitting on straight people their whole lives. Which by the way, can lead to getting beaten up or tortured to death.

    Second, if you don’t tell people, they go “is he?” all day long in perpetuity. Or, they assume you are straight and try to set you up with someone of the opposite sex. Or, they express outrageous homophobia to you constantly. And when they finally do find out, they are pissed at you because they think you were hiding it from them, and they feel foolish for any of the 3 aforementioned behaviors they may have expressed when they thought you were straight. So yes, even straight people do want or need to know.

    And you have to let homophobes know they are not living in a LGBT-free world so they know that their BS won’t go unanswered.

    Imagine if 90% of people were gay and 10% straight, would you be happy with everyone assuming you were gay and trying to set you up with someone of the same sex all the time? Would you be happy hearing people make derogatory comments about opposite sex couples all day long? Would you just forgo dating altogether and blend in? Or would you describe your wife Jane as “John” whenever she comes up in conversation? Or would you marry another man because that’s what you’re “supposed to do”? That’s the closet. It gets tiresome real fast. It doesn’t do anyone any good. I don’t think you should recommend it to anybody.

    The world is made up of both LGBT and straight people and always has been, since the beginning of time. Get used it it. Get over it.

1 Trackbacks For This Post

  1. where can i watch nhl hockey games live online | Stop Sweating and Start Living Says:

    […] Gay Xbox Live Gamers May Now Spell It Out […]