Report: Xbox Live Says GamerTag with Gay Reference is Unsuitable

May 16, 2008 -

According to a report on The Consumerist, Microsoft's Xbox Live has mandated that a gamer/customer of the online gaming venue change his GamerTag due to a gay reference contained in it. From the article:

Reader Grant says that his gamer tag "theGAYERgamer" was recently banned by Xbox Live. He hoped that a call to customer support would sort things out but all he received was a confusing explanation from an Xbox Live supervisor. According to the supervisor, it wasn't that she found the name offensive, but it was the "greater Xbox community" that found it offensive...

The Consumerist wonders why the Xbox community gets to decide, and whether the decision has homophobic overtones.

GP: Interestingly enough, we just logged onto XBL (GamerTag = GamePolitics) and noticed that the similar-sounding account "gaygamer" is active. We checked that one because of the well-known website of the same name. So it's unclear whether "theGAYERgamer" was singled out for some reason or if there is more to the story.


Comments

Re: Report: Xbox Live Says GamerTag with Gay Reference is

As has been said, it seems the issue is not one of "homophobia" or of MS pushing any particular agenda but of them enforcing what would seem to be a quite legitimate rule regarding Gamertag names: that they not refer to anything sexual.

Now, I can't say whether they apply this principle effeciently and universally (clearly their system for banning those who abuse the voice-chat system is less tightly policed), but I for one see no problem with this.  As a gamer, I play XBL and other online-games to get away from all the sexual, ideological, political and other heavy stuff that I have to deal with everyday.

I remember one day while playing City of Heroes I got grouped with a female avatar with a decidedly pro-choice name and theme who would, in addition to having a Battle Cry about a woman's right to choose. spend considerable time debating the finer points of Roe v. Wade with other party member.  Understand, I have no problem with her position - I support it.  But when I plug in the PC or console, I don't want to have to deal with all of that.  I suspect - and hope - that a similar desire is behind MS's treatment of this Gamertag issue: they want to create a fun environment as far removed from contentious, real-world issues as possible.

What if the gamertag was...

TheSTRAIGHTERgamer. Is that a sexual gamertag? If so, would it be treated as such? If a person says they are straight or gay, IT'S NOT A FRIGGIN' COME ON! I can agree that I wouln't want some political preacher jamming their views down my throat, but if that's the problem, they need to say it, instead of parading this claim that it is a sexualy explicit tag.

 

-GRIZZAM PRIME(c)is property of the U.S. Marine Corp. Wetworks Dept., and also The Incredible Hulk-GRIZZAM PRIME is not to be associated with GRIZZAM 512 or any other GRIZZAM entity under penalty of law, so sayith ZARATHOS.

Reality/////////////////////////////////////Fantasy. Seems like a pretty thick line to me...

Re: Report: Xbox Live Says GamerTag with Gay Reference is

Well "GayGamer" is still up, otherwise I'd think it was both sad and hilarious that they'd label gay people possibly making gay gamertags as offensive but not even bat an eye at the swarms of 14 year olds who continually bark "faggot" at each other while playing teh Haloz.

Damn kids!!!

Remember the "I WANT CHOCOLATE MILK!" kid? Seriously, the problem is that parents aren't teaching their kids not to be assholes. Now my ma instilled a sense of shame in me at an early age. If I acted like that, I'd be fucking embarrassed. Not to mention I'd not be playing my X-Box for quite a while. Damn kids.(I know, I'm going crazy with these friggin' smiley faces...)

 

-GRIZZAM PRIME(c)is property of the U.S. Marine Corp. Wetworks Dept., and also The Incredible Hulk-GRIZZAM PRIME is not to be associated with GRIZZAM 512 or any other GRIZZAM entity under penalty of law, so sayith ZARATHOS.

Reality/////////////////////////////////////Fantasy. Seems like a pretty thick line to me...

Re: Report: Xbox Live Says GamerTag with Gay Reference is

His name was reported as having an offensive name.  And to be clear, he was not banned from Live, he just has to change his gamertag, which they let you do free of charge if they demand you do so.  MS is extrememly strict when it comes to gamertags that have been reported.  For example, I had a friend whose gamertag contained the word "flaccid".  That had a sexual enough connotation for them to force him to change it.

Since changing a GT usually costs $, we've reported people who wanted it changed enough that XBL forced them to change, free of charge.

IMO, nothing homophobic about it.  MS is strict with all names that imply anything sexual, whether it be straight or gay.  If you get reported enough, they are even more strict.

Re: Report: Xbox Live Says GamerTag with Gay Reference is

That's not really cool on on Microsoft's part. But I can see how this might have happened.

Admittedly, most gamertags with the word "gay" thrown in there are most likely to be offensive and deogatory in some way. Still, I don't think this one should be banned.

-"A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject." -Sir Winston Churchill

Re: Report: Xbox Live Says GamerTag with Gay Reference is

I personally think it's the use of the "er" in "gayer" that makes it more innappropriate. Saying "straightergamer" would probably be offensive to some gays afterall.

simply "gaygamer" is just stating that that gamer is gay. "gayergamer" has an undertone that suggests he's trying to offend someone.

Re: Report: Xbox Live Says GamerTag with Gay Reference is Unsuit

There is a lot of that kind of behaviour on XBL, I made a character once in one of the WWE games, who was intentionally hilarious, guy with a huge afro,walked to the ring like he was gods gift or something and then had this guy, with a southern accent say.  "Who's this fag" and then he made sure every attack he made was on my character, made sure that everybody attacked my character.  I thought it was hilarious, couldn't believe somebody could be so bothered by a created character who was obviously supposed to be a joke.

Re: Xbox Live GamerTag

First, there seems to be some confusion over what happened. He was not banned, he was made to change his gamertag before he could log back into XBL. (A service that usually costs 800 live points, BTW.) Microsoft doesn't monitor Silver and off-line GamerTags, they only enforce improper names for Gold Accounts that can play online. Meaning that this guy was playing games, online, with other people, most likely strangers, strangers that could be any age.

Everybody that is defending this seems to be stuck on the 'gay' aspect of the gamertag, (intentionally, it seems) ignoring the fact that it says GAY-ER. As in, more than. As in, more gay than potentially other gay gamers. The problem isn't that he is gay, because Microsoft doesn't care who you are as long as you're giving them money. (Heck, you could be a purple transexual and from the moon, and Microsoft wouldn't care as long as you paid for the gold subscription.) The problem is that the gamertag is BAIT. There is no innocent intention here, he clearly meant for the name to be provoking.

XBL is a lot like YouTube as far as GamerTags are concerned. Microsoft rarely monitors the names themselves except for a few key terms that they'll ocasionally search the database for. They're mostly dependant on community self regulation. The reason why he was made to change his title was more than likely because enough folks in the community filed a report on an inappropriate name. And just so everyone is clear, it takes A LOT of people complaining about your gamertag to have Microsoft intervene. Not just a single 12yo playing Halo3, or a small group of  homophobe jerks playing Rainbow6.

Also, of all places to declare your sexual preference in life, your XBL gamertag is not the place to do so. What? You're going to pick up dudes on XBL? Srsly.

 

Re: Xbox Live GamerTag

"Everybody... ignoring the fact that it says GAY-ER. As in, more than. As in, more gay than potentially other gay gamers."

That's assuming quite a bit. It could just as easily be that that user wanted to be called "TheGayGamer", but that tag was already taken (or disallowed), and so that slight alteration was used.

Re: Report: Xbox Live Says GamerTag with Gay Reference is Unsuit

I'm sure MS doesn't like it either when this website makes references to their games. It's offensive to gay gamers!
www.gaygamer.net

Xbox Live Says GamerTag with Gay Reference is Unsuitable

By the greater Xbox Community, they mean that enough people used the XBL feedback tool to say that the persons username was offensive.  If enough people claim it's offensive and there's a questionable word in the name MS will send them a notice asking them to change their handle.

In this case people theGAYERgamer played with complained.  The guy with the gaygamer handle hasn't received the same complaints.  Nothing to do with Microsoft being homophobic or not.

 

from what i previously read,

from what i previously read, when the guy called Xbox support, they didn't find it offensive, but enough people "complained" that they "had" to make him change it.

so if enough ignorant little shits on Halo don't like you, they can dictate policy.

Here are we -- and yonder yawns the universe.

Here are we -- and yonder yawns the universe.

Re: Report: Xbox Live Says GamerTag with Gay Reference is Unsuit

Banning the name "TheGayerGamer" makes sense, but if they ban names like "BigGayAl", then they just hate the word gay.

Re: Report: Xbox Live Says GamerTag with Gay Reference is Unsuit

They make this out like it's a cut-and-dried issue of having anything in your name that has to do with sex. But, then (as earlier posters noted) it's more that it's an issue of people complaining about names. And is it really the case that someone is just as likely to complain about "TheStraightGamer" as they are about "TheGayGamer"? Clearly not. The complaint system just extends people's unease about homosexuality and empowers them to push it further away from their field of view by forcing people to change their names. Also, I wonder if someone would be forced to change their name if they had an especially oblique reference to being gay ... "HarveyMilkLives" or "IAmTammyBaldwin" or something like that. Then again, probably nobody on XBL would be educated enough to know who those people are and complain. 

I dunno...

I'm not really sure how to feel about this. It sounds discriminatory, but without more information, I can't make a true decision either way.

Stupid double post

Stupid double post... sorry.

Re:

People calling you names on Live is no reason not to get a Gold account.  For one, you really only need the headset in team games to talk to teammates and two, you can mute anyone in the game.  I never hear my opponents. 

Game systems are meant for

Game systems are meant for everyone not just young kids. If they were made for young kids there will be no E10, T, M or AO ratings.

Re: Report: Xbox Live Says GamerTag with Gay Reference is Unsuit

@Monte

It is neither of those. The ToS on Xbox Live clearly say that there may be no sexual innuendo or sexual reference in your gamertag.  So announcing yourself as "gay" is breaking the rules, plain and simple.  You are also not allowed to announce that you are straight.  Your sexual preference just has no place on a system designed for young children.

I do agree though, that kids (especially US kids) are incredibly racist and homphobic over the voice coms in games like COD4 and Halo3.  But that is what voice banning is for ;)

-- mostly harmless

mostly harmless

Re: Report: Xbox Live Says GamerTag with Gay Reference is Unsuit

This can be taken in one of two ways... Either it's a case of homopobia, or it could be the opposite and be a case of gamers within the community thought the name might be offensive to gays (not realizing the gamer was gay)... unfortunatly, i can't help but think it's more likely the former =/ ... society does tend to constantly disappoint me...

This isn't Homophobia - it is a valid a violation of the TOS

Taken From  Stephen Toulouse's Blog:

"We received a complaint on the Gamertag and determined that it did indeed contain sexual innuendo. Granted, there could be an argument that the text is not pejorative to homosexuality and should therefore be allowed. But there is no context to explain that.  Gamertags are visible to everyone and it would be hard for me to defend to a parent of a young child who saw it that the name did not contain content of a sexual nature.
We do not take action based off the number of complaints, or how often people complain in a given day. Whether it's one complaint or 20, we will look at it the same way. 

To answer the question another way, yes 'TheStraighterGamer' or 'TheHeterosexualgamer' would have gotten the same treatment and would have been found to be in violation and forced to be changed. We've actually done that to tags like that before.  Racism, hate speech, bigotry, homophobia, all these things have no place on Xbox Live and are in violation of our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct."

As for why the GayerGamer was banned but GayGamer was not, I can only assume that no-one has complained about the"GayGamer" account.  They will only ban you if they receive at least one complaint.

-- mostly harmless

mostly harmless

Re: This isn't Homophobia - it is a valid a violation of the TOS

Hmm thats something that I only just thought of now I re-read that reply, if the problem is a pejorative connotation, does that mean a username like "FagsRock" or "AwesomeFudgePacker" would be acceptable?

Re: This isn't Homophobia - it is a valid a violation of the TOS

It is not that it is derogatory, simply that it is a sexual reference.  Positive or negative in its implication, it is not allowed.

EDIT: Just to explain further, I think that what he means when he says "pejorative to homosexuality" is that it could mean "happy" and not "homosexual".  But since it means "homosexual" too, it must be changed.  You wouldn't be allowed to have "ILovePussy" either, even if you were talking about your cat.

-- mostly harmless

mostly harmless

Re: This isn't Homophobia - it is a valid a violation of the TOS

Hmm, one wonders which dictionary of offensive slang they're working from, tools can be things like screwdrivers but then again they could be penises, tacos could be mexican food or a reference to vaginas. Hell give me a few minutes to think and I'm sure I could make some kind of obscene meaning for the word "Monkey"

Re: This isn't Homophobia - it is a valid a violation of the TOS

Screwdriver could be a refrence to neo-nazi Oi! band... therefore, ban the sucker.

Re: This isn't Homophobia - it is a valid a violation of the TOS

Monkey-spanking?

Re: This isn't Homophobia - it is a valid a violation of the TOS

Definitely :)

They work on the "must receive at least one complaint" basis.  If they receive a complaint and there is absolutely any sexual innuendo - the user is forced to change their gamertag.  It's not like its a big deal to choose a different name anyway...

-- mostly harmless

mostly harmless

Re: Report: Xbox Live Says GamerTag with Gay Reference is Unsuit

Given the frequency with which you can be called a "fag" while playing Halo and/or Gears of War on Xbox Live (for the low low price of only $50 per year!) this doesn't surprise me.  One more reason why I'm not getting a gold account.

Re: Report: Xbox Live Says GamerTag with Gay Reference is Unsuit

From what I hear, a lot of XBL members are rabid homophobes. 

Re: Report: Xbox Live Says GamerTag with Gay Reference is Unsuit

I think that's a bit of a misconception.  The problem is, people remember the one asshat that yells out the "N word" constantly and calls everyone a "homo"...what they dont' remember, is the last 25 people they played with who didn't.

What the problem probably is here is that some people are just a little overzealous.  When you see dozens of GamerTags with sexual references, racial slurs in them and god knows what else, can you blame them?  If he got enough feedback from players about they name, they'll usually automatically ban it. 

The fact that the other one is still up is just a coincidence.  Perhaps he states clearly in his profile that he's actually gay or something, or perhaps he's already been through all this with XBL support and didn't see fit to make a news story about it...who knows.

Regardless though, it's not MS that banned the name, it's other players complaining.  Yes, they fix it, but the fact that it got banned in the first place shouldn't reflect badly on the guys that run XBL.

Re: Report: Xbox Live Says GamerTag with Gay Reference is Unsuit

Nothing to do with XBL mate, thats the internet in general...fag! (JOKE)

Perhaps MS doesn't mind gay people as in men who have sex with men but they object to gayER people who act like rampant queer eye stereotypes?

Sorry about the repost.

I'm having some trouble running this page on my old 2005 Dell.  Sorry, guys.

In response to the previous statement (Twin-Skies): that's because most XBL members (at least the ones that play Halo 3) have a southern drawl or are too young to drive (take from that what you will).

A problem, but not the worst I've seen...

Meh.  I think it's just a misunderstanding, really.  I mean, I don't think Microsoft is homophobic, it's just covering its bases in terms of what is deemed 'offensive'.  Maybe if 'theGAYERgamer' changed some of his letters to numbers...?

But I digress.  If he (or she) is unwilling to do this, then I can sympathize.  Best of luck to him/her.

Re: A problem, but not the worst I've seen...

Microsoft is not a person and cannot be homophobic or not homophobic.  It is made up of individuals with their own personal views, includeing perhaps a person who did say something like "why should these homos parade it about?  I don't have straighter gamer...etc." and then banned him.   This is entierly possible. 
 
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