Microsoft Okays Sexual Orientation in Gamertags

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Microsoft Okays Sexual Orientation in Gamertags

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More than a year after the "gay Gamertag" controversy, Microsoft has updated the terms and conditions of Xbox 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 suspended from the service because she made mention of her sexual orientation - she's gay - in her user profile. She eventually wrote a letter to The Consumerist 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 conference on homophobia hosted by Electronic Arts and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, 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 Terms of Use and Code of Conduct which will allow our members to more freely express their race, nationality, religion and sexual orientation in Gamertags and profiles," Xbox Live General Manager Marc Whitten wrote in a message posted on Xbox.com. "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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A Gay-mertag, eh?

Good.

Serves the homophobes right.

StraightDave!

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

MaxChaos:
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.

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".

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.

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.

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?

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".

Orange Monkey:
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. ;)

warbaloon:
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.

Xersues:

Orange Monkey:
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.

no one has to, but if they want to they can. i see nothing wrong

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?

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.

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

Xersues:
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.

Good on Microsoft for taking some fucking initiative for a change.

Xersues:

Orange Monkey:
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. ;)

And you seem like a very intelligent and tolerant person, unfortunately not everyone is, some people are simply hateful for not other reason than to hate.

And nah, i'd leave the old bird alone, now you're Grandpa on the other hand... :P

Why on earth would they want their orientation listed on their gamertag? XBL is full of immature jackels who will jump on that shit.

As Moviebob once wrote, "Go ahead and make a profile on XBL saying you are something other than a straight white male. Go ahead and see how understanding they are.".

I never understood why it was a big deal anyway. So someone is gay. Wheee. I could easily put "I'm straight." in my Gamer Profile. And I'm 100% sure no one would care. Just like I don't care if someones gay.

Honestly, I don't get why everything has to be such a big deal anymore.

Those names are only going to be used by homophobic 12 year olds probably.

Its going to get abused, and more people will be offended.

"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."

Wow, what a lousy speech. I'm glad he didn't add "...to hold off the barbarian hordes of hatred, disloyalty and deceit that plague our wonderful world. BE FREE, XBOX COMMUNITY! BE FREE FROM THE SHACKLES UNFAIRLY THROWN UPON YOU AND USE YOUR LOVE TO CONQUER--

okay, might be getting a bit overboard on that, but still.

Hardcore_gamer:
Good.

Serves the homophobes right.

Yup!

crimson5pheonix:

MaxChaos:
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.

Thread De-rail: Disgusting Xenos. You and your Greater Good is nothing but a lie! It is the God-Emprah's will that we use puns, and it is his will that you die!

OP: This won't stop needless harassment methinks. Why would someone want to put their sexual preference in a gamertags anyway? That's just asking to be trolled.

Dublin Solo:
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?

In the stupid words of an unimprtant man.
"I don't want them ramming it down my throat all the time.. or my kids throats" In relation to gays in media.

I don't want to know, if these homosexuals wish to label themselves and force their life story upon me, I take offence.

Say hello to one billion "GayAtheistAfghani" etc.

Fantaaaaastic.

Shockolate:

crimson5pheonix:

MaxChaos:
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.

Thread De-rail: Disgusting Xenos. You and your Greater Good is nothing but a lie! It is the God-Emprah's will that we use puns, and you shall never take that from us!

OP: This won't stop needless harassment methinks. Why would someone want to put their sexual preference in a gamertags anyway? That's just asking to be trolled.

Hey, hey, hey... No derailing the thread. This is a legitimate topic of discussion.

I'm glad I can have whatever I want as my name (in most games I play) and so can others. I don't like censorship and I don't find words offensive, it's rare I see people wondering around with racial slurs as names. The fact they can, and it isn't going to get them banned means they aren't breaking rules, I think that might make them less attractive as well.

crimson5pheonix:

Shockolate:

crimson5pheonix:

MaxChaos:
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.

Thread De-rail: Disgusting Xenos. You and your Greater Good is nothing but a lie! It is the God-Emprah's will that we use puns, and you shall never take that from us!

OP: This won't stop needless harassment methinks. Why would someone want to put their sexual preference in a gamertags anyway? That's just asking to be trolled.

Hey, hey, hey... No derailing the thread. This is a legitimate topic of discussion.

BAWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW. Oh well.

It still seems rather pointless to me saying your race, gender, orientation or anything else in a gamertag. The problem is twofold. First is that it won't stop harassment based on tags, and second, like someone said before, people will attempt to use this to be as offensive as possible. Hopefully Microsoft is up to the challenge and crack's down on this sort of thing.

There's no reason to broadcast your sexual orientation, gay, straight, lesbian, bi, whatever. Part of an online community is that it allows you to be whomever you want, regardless of whatever situation you might find yourself in. By expressing your orientation you are looking for one of two things:

A) Some sort of romantic or pseudo-erotic relationship/experience with another person which should not be allowed in an online community such as XBOX Live

B) Some sort of special attention as to what sets you apart.

GLAAD members are saying that they're using the gamertags orientations as a form of empowerment and self identification, again I must stress that this won't actually help build a stronger community; it will help set people apart.

Gender, nationality and age I understand. But what's up with all the rest, for christ's sake ... It's like turning a mosquito in to an elephant. Stop treating it like it's abnormal.

Ok I gotta say I genuinely don't see why anyone would want to put their sexual orientation/religion etc. in their gamertag.I mean it's just a gamertag not a social networking site

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