Today, The Consumerist blasted Microsoft's Xbox Live service with an anonymous accusation: that a user who identified herself as a lesbian in her Xbox profile was harassed while playing online games by other users, then found herself banned from the service. The story doesn't entirely add up—mostly because The Consumerist prefers to hit copy+paste than do any research or fact-checking (no user name? no request from Microsoft for a response? hello libel?), but also because the way Xbox Live works, this user wouldn't have necessarily broadcast her sexual preference as described. But a user can find him/herself temporarily banned if a boatload of people send complaints through Xbox Live's reporting system, so maybe this poor lesbian just pwned the wrong n00bs.
But, the Internet being the Internet, the story's spreading, and so Xbox Live employee Stephen Toulouse has responded to the story on his Twitter feed:
re: the consumerist story. Expression of any sexual orientation (straight or gay or otherswise) is not allowed in gamertags. However we've heard from the user base they want that capability, so I am examining how we can provide it in a way that wont get misused. I can't say any more at the moment, except to say I'm working right now in finding a way to safely express relationship preference.
Here, Toulouse is referring to someone making up a username like "AllNightCarpetMunch" or "CantGetEnoughDick," rather than someone going by "Cindy459" who states in her profile, "Hi, I'm 33, and I love my partner Jill." MS has filters in place to auto-block words in an Xbox username like "Jew" and "gay," assumedly to prevent assholes from coming up with abusive usernames. Considering how many moronic, underage homophobes troll Xbox Live, I don't know why any gamer would feel like a Halo deathmatch is the place to bring up their personal life, but it's good to hear an immediate, sensible response from MS for those who'd like to.
Now, if they could get around to magically filtering the system's voice chat, then maybe I wouldn't hear tweens call me a "fucking niggerfagjew" whenever I kill them.