Xbox Boss Addresses Toxicity and Hate Speech, Says "Gaming Is for Everyone"

Microsoft’s head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, shared an op-ed on Monday that addressed various topics like safety in video games, hate speech, and Microsoft’s plans to protect its users in an online world. Spencer laid out his thoughts about video games as a whole and the benefits that they offer to the billions who partake in the hobby while also commenting on misconceptions held by some who equate video games to violence-inducing products or timewasters.

In a blog post on Microsoft’s site, Spencer called video games “a unifying force for the world.” He also said that, despite what some people might have led themselves to believe, nobody “owns” gaming and asserted that the medium was open to anyone regardless of race, gender, politics, or any other factor.

“If you imagine gamers as predominantly men and specifically teen boys, think again,” Spencer said. “We are a 2.6 billion-person strong community of parents playing with our kids, adventurers exploring worlds together, teachers making math wondrous, grandmothers learning about their grandchildren through play, and soldiers connecting with their folks back home. Most gamers today are adults; nearly half are women.”

For everyone to take part in gaming, Spencer said “gaming must promote and protect the safety of all” and be a safe environment for players. He said the rise and embrace of gaming around the world has also happened at a time when “digital life includes a growing toxic stew of hate speech, bigotry and misogyny.” To combat that toxicity, hate speech, and other issues, Spencer said the Xbox Safety team is committed to expanding so that it may identify and solve safety problems.

“We will identify potentials for abuse and misuse on our platform and will fix problems quickly,” he said. “We are also intent on expanding the composition of our safety team so wide-ranging perspectives can help us identify future safety problems and solutions.

Microsoft updated its community standards not long ago with more clarifications and guidelines, some of which showed users how to properly and respectfully trash talk. Though the Xbox Ambassador program and “new programs for the health of our entire gaming community,” Microsoft will continue looking for more ways to protect gamers. It also plans on sharing safety innovations with others in the industry.

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“Because we intend to protect all gamers, we will openly share safety innovations with our industry the same way Microsoft has made PhotoDNA technology universally available to everyone from the police to the tech industry to fight the spread of child pornography,” Spencer said. “Today, multiple teams working in areas like moderation, user research, data science, and others are already aligning with industry partners to share insights, and best practices in areas of safety, security and privacy.”

Spencer’s full post about Microsoft’s role in keeping gamers safe can be seen here.

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