Microsoft Apologizes to Gay Gamers, Considers Solutions

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Microsoft Apologizes to Gay Gamers, Considers Solutions

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In the wake of the controversy surrounding a self-identified lesbian being suspended from 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 News and MTV Multiplayer, 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."

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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 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.

Good thing they're are listening (though they had no alternative...) so hopefully we will see these changes.

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.

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

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.

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?

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.

My XBL profile has this written in it: Proud supporter of Gay Rights. So do your worst Microsoft.

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.

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)?

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!

Richard Gaywood - tee hee

Lvl 64 Klutz:
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

sorry user name taken.:
Richard Gaywood - tee hee

Its Gaywood...Like, homosexual...Hehe

I still say the people who stalked and harrassed her should be banned - for good.

calelogan:
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:
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.

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.

SomeBritishDude:

sorry user name taken.:
Richard Gaywood - tee hee

Its Gaywood...Like, homosexual...Hehe

yeah..tee hee

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..

Another person who doesn't use XBOX live here. That having been said, I don't understand the comments that basically say that she shouldn't "advertise" her sexual orientation.

That argument has been used for years to try to silence gay & lesbian people. Holding hands = advertising. Kissing = advertising. etc. etc. Are you saying that no straight xbox live gamers make any allusions to their sexualities in their profiles? I find this hard to believe. I'm sure there are some people who have profiles that make references to their girlfriends/boyfriends, stars they find attractive, and so on. How are these any less of an advertisement of sexuality than simply stating that one is a lesbian? Would it have been OK for her to say that she was a woman with a wife?

The fact is that most people will assume that the people they meet are straight until otherwise informed. By being up front with your sexuality you can avoid uncomfortable situations down the line. If someone is a homophobic asshole I'd rather them know right off that I'm gay then figure it out after spending a few hours chatting with them. Maybe this woman feels the same way.

I have in my profile that "I'm a bro who loves to play _Gears of War_ with my bros while killing brewhounds while we pre-game 'till I'm fracked out my dome"

Does that mean I'm going to be banned for mentioning my latent homosexuality?

I'm sorry...Richard Gaywood = Dick GayErection....that can't be a real name.

On a more serious note, as Microsoft said 98% of the usage of any word relating to homosexuality in profiles is used for insulting purposes. Of those two percent who use it to describe themselves I'm willing to bet that the majority of them are using it for attention or they are children looking to do teh cyborz saxxin.
Those who are genuinely gay should realise there is no need to put it on a XBL gamer profile, and will also see that for the reasons above the words themselves should be filtered out.

I don't understand what possessed them to do this... Someone's sexuality plays a huge part in their personality, so fitting it into a personal introduction is usually necessary.

Oh well, they've apologised. The girl should get free Xbox live for a year though.

parents don't want their kids exposed to that kind of thing i understand...but who filters real life? on the playground, walking down the street? the crazy mumbling bum trying to clean windshields. using children as a shield to protect yourself is poor in form and function, use the 6'6" 300 lbs guy that gets angry easily

How many of you have got your sexuality in your profile?

If so, why?

luckshot:
parents don't want their kids exposed to that kind of thing i understand...but who filters real life? on the playground, walking down the street? the crazy mumbling bum trying to clean windshields. using children as a shield to protect yourself is poor in form and function, use the 6'6" 300 lbs guy that gets angry easily

Microsoft are a business, a large portion of their customers are parents who pay for their children to play. They have to run the business in a way that the majority of parents are happy about. Everyone flaming gays or advertising sexual services online tends to upset parents.

Actual:
I'm sorry...Richard Gaywood = Dick GayErection....that can't be a real name.

I'm sorry if this makes me sound immature or anything, but I actually burst really loudly with laughter.

I don't use XBL either, but I am glad that Msoft is trying to make things right for her.

That being said, I still side with the "why?" crowd. I realize that being gay is a big part of one's personality, and of course everyone has a right to express themselves. But I don't feel the need to tell everyone I meet, let alone anyone I play a friggin' video game with, that I'm straight as part of my introduction, you know?

I still think she should be able to express herself, but the community she's trying in is not the most receptive one for that. If anyone's the villain here, it's the thousands of homophobes out there that account for that 98% statistic of misuse of the terms, and the parents that allow or even encourage hateful intolerance in their children.

not4prophet:
I don't use XBL either, but I am glad that Msoft is trying to make things right for her.

That being said, I still side with the "why?" crowd. I realize that being gay is a big part of one's personality, and of course everyone has a right to express themselves. But I don't feel the need to tell everyone I meet, let alone anyone I play a friggin' video game with, that I'm straight as part of my introduction, you know?

I still think she should be able to express herself, but the community she's trying in is not the most receptive one for that. If anyone's the villain here, it's the thousands of homophobes out there that account for that 98% statistic of misuse of the terms, and the parents that allow or even encourage hateful intolerance in their children.

Fill out your about me section. Something about me is that I'm bi-sexual. It's a major part of who I am. Just like my name is Adelaide. I don't think they should censor stuff like that, but putting it in your screen name is just asking for trouble from the drop-kicks who use XBL. "OMG UR GAY!? ROFLFAG!!!"

I think the HOME fiasco and this situation are a little bit different.

With the HOME censoring "gay" "lesbian" and "bisexual" or something, those words are easily used for insults and can easily be shown in front of a crowd and shown in a large group, which means that anyone can see it whether they like it or not. So to prevent from "offending" anyone, they censored it, though ironically they offended someone anyway. (I guarantee you that if they didn't censor it it would be a fiasco anywya, but I'm not going to say if what they did was "right".)

With this, they banned her (presumably) because of something that wasn't necessary, or even really that public. It was on a profile that anyone can see if they choose to see it. She (again, presumably) got banned because of something that wasn't necessary or even that important, which makes it distressing to even consider "personalizing" your own personal profile. (But again, I'm not going to say if what they did was "right".)

I WILL, however, say that it was stupid of both MSoft and the Gaymer (*tee hee*) to A)Say that metioning your sexual preference in a personal profile is against the rules and B)That the girl actually put up her sexual preference in her profile.

Didn't she know what a bunch of assholes people are on live?!?!?!

HAR HAR HAR *rhetoric(?) laughter*

Actual:
How many of you have got your sexuality in your profile?

If so, why?

To let the ladies know I'm available

;D

I see no need for change. Why would you even want to put your "sexual preference" in your profile?

Rednog:
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.

Microsoft didn't have to ban her if they were truly paying attention why didn't they email her and ask her would you please remove this from your profile?

I don't think she was looking to hook up as you say maybe she was trying to find other gamers who were also gay to game with. You tend to be more comfortable playing with like minded people and people you feel comfortable with.

There are enough slurs thrown around on Live that it makes it really hard to want to actually interact with anyone on there.

Trivun:
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.

Exactly. The profile is to say things about yourself isn't it???

I don't see why its a big deal for her to write shes a lesbian in her profile.. Just like someone might write that they're a vegetarian, or caucasian, or something... :/ Yeah those are bad examples, but my point is, if you have a profile to say things about yourself, and she considers that to be a big part of herself and is proud of it, then whats wrong with putting it there??

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