Xbox An Unfriendly Place For Lesbians?*


Is it out bounds to be an openly gay gamer on Microsoft’s (MSFT) Xbox Live network?

Consumerist follows the story of “Teresa,” who was harassed by other players on Xbox because she identified herself as a lesbian. Eventually she was booted from the network because other players found her homosexuality “offensive.”

My account was suspended because I had said in my profile that I was a lesbian. I was harassed by several players, ‘chased’ to different maps/games to get away from their harassment. They followed me into the games and told all the other players to turn me in because they didn’t want to see that crap or their kids to see that crap.

As if xbox live is really appropriate for kids anyways! My account was suspended and xbox live did nothing to solve this, but instead said others found it offensive.

There might be more to this that Teresa’s not talking about, but from what we know so far it makes obvious the bind that companies running online game environments are in. Let your community take the lead in moderation, and  bigoted users can do obnoxious things, like boot lesbians or anyone else they with whom they don’t happen to agree. Sony (SNE) has the flip-side of the same problem, it generally steps back from policing its online environment, creating a free-for-all where female gamers to get swarmed with attention.

(We recently checked in on Sony’s Home again, and while things have calmed down somewhat since launch, a user with a lone female avatar will undoubtedly be the object of constant flirtation and advances.)

We’ve asked Microsoft for comment.  Meanwhile, sadly, it seems there are not many places a lesbian can feel welcome online–except maybe Second Life.

UPDATE: Microsoft reps sent us the following statement saying nothing of a sexual nature is allowed on an Xbox Live gamertag at all — including orientation, gay or straight.

The also sendt out a personal message to “Teresa”: call us.

As stated in the Xbox LIVE Terms of Use, a member may not create a gamertag or use text in other profile fields that include comments that look, sound like, stand for, hint at, abbreviate, or insinuate content of a potentially sexual nature. Profiles that do are asked to change the language and suspended until changes are made. In regards to sexual orientation, for gamertags or profiles we do not allow expression of any type of orientation, be that hetero or other. Players can, however, self identify in voice communication where context is more easily explained to all players involved.

Harassment of any kind is not condoned and is taken very seriously; we strongly encourage Xbox LIVE members to immediately report inappropriate behaviour through the compliant tools in the service so that it can be investigated and the appropriate action taken.

The Xbox LIVE community grows daily, and we continue to explore methods and levels of enforcement to enhance the ways our members connect and have fun, while adhering to a code of conduct that encourages respect and keeps the service safe and fun for all our members.