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.
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.
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.