Change to xbox live code of conduct

Members of the Xbox LIVE community received an open letter today. It read as follows:

A Letter from Marc Whitten: Update to Xbox LIVE Code of Conduct

Published March 5, 2010

Dear Xbox LIVE members,

Since the beginning, Microsoft has made an investment in the security and safety of Xbox LIVE and created tools and monitoring practices to ensure it is a fun and welcoming entertainment experience for people of all races, nationalities, religions and sexual orientations. And thanks to this investment and the enthusiasm of community members like you, we’re proud to be the strongest and most diverse online community of its kind at 23 million.

The Xbox LIVE Terms of Use and Code of Conduct are designed to create a place where people can safely enjoy all of the ways to interact on our service, be it online multiplayer gaming, photo sharing, Netflix parties, or social games such as 1 vs 100, without fear of discrimination or harassment. As the service evolves and our customers provide us with feedback, these rules evolve to incorporate new features or changes in how people wish to interact.

With that in mind, 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. 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. This update also comes hand-in-hand with increased stringency and enforcement to prevent the misuse of these terms.

I truly believe that our diversity is what makes us strong: diversity in gaming and entertainment options, and diversity in the people that make up this amazing community. I look forward to seeing you on LIVE soon.

Jump in,

Marc Whitten
Gamertag – Notwen

This change comes after many customer protests to the Xbox LIVE policy. Back in February of 2009 there was a story of a user being banned for stating that she was a lesbian in her profile. While she  experienced harassment at the hands of other Xbox LIVE users, she was then punished for declaring her truth and her life to the world.  While this was not the first instance of a user being banned for self-identifying as LGBTQ, this instance was widely publicized.  GLAAD and other blogs quickly took note of this incident and made their outrage known.

It is wonderful to see the Xbox LIVE finally allow people to include their sexual orientation in their profiles. Acceptance and understanding  begins with awareness. It is wonderful to see sexual orientation handled as just another facet of a person. It should not be treated as a negative thing that needs to be hidden. It is just one descriptor of the individual, such as height or eye color. This should have been how it worked at the very beginning, but it is still good to see them acknowledge the problem and fix the policy. Admitting a mistake is not always easy.

The question now becomes, how will Xbox LIVE handle new harassment cases of self identified LGBTQ players? Perhaps this letter signals a turning point for Xbox LIVE. I am hopeful that this means they will not look look away from harassment of LGBTQ players and the use of homophobic and transphobic slurs. I look forward to seeing what this will mean for the community over time.

About Gunthera1

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8 Responses to Change to xbox live code of conduct

  1. thefremen says:

    I’m still having a very hard time accepting that a major corporation changed policy based on the demands of the community it profits off of. Sony’s turn now.

    • Gunthera1 says:

      While I believe this should have been their policy originally, it is wonderful that they finally amended their policy to become more inclusive. Three cheers to the community that helped make this change happen!

      • thefremen says:

        I just realized that it’s March 5, so I’m officially predicting that this change in policy will be redacted on 4/1/2010 and they will permaban anyone who self identifies anything other than “straight”.

  2. Laurentius says:

    It sounds good, but my pesimistic nature tells me that M$ only changed their policy when realized that at the end of the day it can help to gather even more personal inforamtion about their customers and in result give them even more control. That stated i might have been reading too many cyberpunk novels but imo day when web will more opressing then liberating is closing…

    • Gunthera1 says:

      If that was their motivation, then I would think this would have been an option since the very beginning. Also, it is not a checkbox that a player selects, it is just information that someone can choose to include in their bio/profile section. It more difficult for Microsoft to really know what percentage of players is LGBTQ since the player is not required to disclose the information. It is just no longer information that can get the player banned or suspended.

  3. Jayle Enn says:

    I suspect that Legal decided the possibility of a lawsuit was too strong to ignore, or that the LIVE team finally realized that a large proportion of their subscribers were going to throw homophobic and racist slurs at people anyway.

  4. Alex says:


    As you point out, I hope this is only a precursor to taking harassment seriously and implementing ways to discourage and reduce hateful behavior.

  5. tossca says:

    I couldn’t believe it when they implemented the ban for this. It’s about time they removed it.

    I find that issues of discrimination can be so discouraging sometimes. It’s great to see some more uplifting news. :-)

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