We’ve all heard stories of one person’s crusade becoming a full-blown war, and it looks like the gay and lesbian community has found their war against Microsoft. Last week, news emerged of a gamer named Teresa who frequented Xbox Live. Teresa was allegedly banned from the service because she identified as a lesbian in her profile. Needless to say, she wasn’t happy about this and took the ban public, no doubt with little knowledge that the entire thing would force Microsoft into a very embarrassing and public apology over its woeful Xbox Live Policy.
The issue is that Microsoft claims its policy is there to prevent homophobic slurs on XBL, a sort of gaming “don’t ask, don’t tell.” MS does state it’s against “ALL types of orientation,” because Microsoft doesn’t want anyone outlining their sexual preferences on Live. The issue, however, is that there is a huge problem with context while using text analysis technology to pick up on this (which is allegedly what MS uses), and many words are simply not being picked up by the system.
In a brief investigation carried out by LesbianGamers.com, the following gamer tags were shown to be in existence (at some point): IamStraight, hetero, HeteroLifeMates, poofterh8r, Gaybaishnig, Lesbiankilr, Queerkillah and Dyksmasher. Clearly the issue with these Gamer tags isn’t just that they refer to sexual preference, but that they actively incite hate against particular groups. It is only logical then that Microsoft immediately act on this pitiful system to ensure that context is considered when it comes to Gamer tags.
The backlash from not only the LGBT community but also the general gaming community has been quite astounding. Gaming websites and groups have banded together to ask what can be done in this situation and how Microsoft can improve its policies. There is no doubt Microsoft realizes it has a problem and the company has to act on it, and for this we applaud them, but surely they need to consider this one of their priorities at the moment in order to regain confidence in the LGBT market.
This issue has been the most widely discussed gaming point of the week. People want to know what Microsoft intends to do about this, and people want to provide ways to help. An open letter spearheaded by Lesbian Gamers and co-signed and written by a number of other gaming sites will be forwarded to Microsoft this week. Let’s hope there are no more cases like Teresa’s in their future, and we can all work together to ensure safe spaces for LGBT individuals on Xbox Live.
Now your gaming news tidbits for the last week or so.
Nintendo unveiled a new Wii controller called the “Pro.” This is essentially the classic controller with additional shoulder buttons and legs, kind of like the GameCube controller. It’s only available in Japan.
“Lost Planet 2” will feature four-player co-op, because playing with three other people is more fun. Here’s hoping the sequel is better than the original.
The “Mass Effect 2” teaser trailer released, and we’re a little worried about our beloved commander Shepard.
The “Aliens RPG” was allegedly shelved, which sucks for “Aliens” fans and RPG fans alike.
“Rockband 2” finally got a Wii and PS3 release date in the UK. It will be out on PlayStation 3 on March 27 and Nintendo Wii on April 24.
Kristen Kreuk, the Smallville actor who plays video game hero Chun-Li in the upcoming “Streetfighter” movie, admits to having played “Street Fighter” only once. No biggy — it’s not like Angelina Jolie played “Tomb Raider” loads, and she did an OK job.
The Lesbian Gamers main review machine got “The Red Ring of Death” last week, and we’re following its exploits at the site, because it’s nice to turn a tragic event into something informative.
Happy Gaming — assuming you’re not a lesbian, looking for other lesbian gamers and thinking it’s a good idea to add that to your Xbox Live profile.