Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Weird Anti-Gay Fixation of X-Box

I'm not a gamer. We have a Playstation console at home and a handful of games for it, but I don't think it's even been hooked up to the TV for four or five years. So I am certainly not an X-Box user, and have never been big into games – not even when I was a teenager or college student.

But I do take note of amusing and annoying things in the gaming world, from time to time. And from WSAZ TV news comes this report that X-Box had banned one of its players because his gamer profile included the name of his city. Chicago, you ask? Or New Berlin, Wisconsin, perhaps? No. Josh Moore's hometown is Fort Gay, West Virginia, and he is rather proud of it.

Reports WSAZ:
Moore tells WSAZ.com after questioning the decision, X-Box lifted a suspension they said was fueled by complaints from other gamers. Moore was reinstated, providing he make no profile references to Fort Gay.

Moore believes it's the word "gay" that is automatically flagged by the computer as offensive, but it's in the name of his home town. "It’s where I live," said Moore. "You can be from Fort Gay, you just can't tell anyone with X-Box.”

Both peeved and puzzled, Fort Gay mayor David Thompson contacted X-Box Microsoft on the behalf of Josh and several other gamers. The Mayor was told the city's name doesn't matter, the word "gay" is inappropriate content in any context.
After the TV news station contact Microsoft and explained the situation, the company apparently changed its mind and said that "Fort Gay, West Virginia" does not in any way violate its rules of conduct.

But earlier Moore told Gamespy: "At first I thought, 'Wow, somebody's thinking I live in the gayest town in West Virginia or something.' I was mad," Moore said. "It makes me feel like they hate gay people. I'm not even gay, and it makes me feel like they were discriminating."

Funny, no? No. Why the hell was "gay" banned to begin with? Were they afraid that people would use it as a term of abuse? Or that gays would use it to identify themselves? Wouldn't it have made more sense if they'd just banned people who used the term abusively or something?

This goes to show that much can be automated, but the human element has to be present, or companies do stupid, insensitive things.

Heaven forbid anyone from Gay City, Connecticut, should want to engage in online X-Box gaming.
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