There used to be a rule in the Xbox LIVE code of conduct that seemed homophobic, or at least overly-protective to a lot of gamers. Under the old code, a queer gamer could not call him or herself a “gaymer”—which is an increasingly popular colloquialism amongst fans of the Xbox LIVE experience. The words “gay,” “straight,” “lesbian,” “bi” and “transgender” were banned from Gamertags—the Xbox version of a screen name.
This policy has been updated and now these words are permissible for use in Gamertags. But there is some discrepancy as to why the words were banned in the first place and why Microsoft has decided to change their policy.
Recently, Microsoft released an open letter in which they explained the new rule change this way:
But in February of 2009, Meg Marco of Consumerist.com described the situation in much more direct terms. In a column entitled “Identifying yourself as a Lesbian Gets You Banned” Marco describes how one gamer named Teresa was repeatedly harassed by homophobes on Xbox and when she went to Microsoft with her complaint, they banned her from the network, telling her that she was being offensive simply by identifying herself as a lesbian.
The article on Consumerist.com goes on to list many more bizarre, and seemingly homophobic actions on the part of moderators and other players that lead to the victim being banned instead of their antagonist. In one case, a man whose real, legal name was “Richard Gaywood” was reportedly banned without recourse from the network.
So, whether you believe Xbox LIVE was looking out for their beloved “gaymers” and protecting them from harassment or maybe you think they were just being fussy to the point of homophobia - this new “game changer” is a most welcome adjustment to their code of conduct.