Anyone who plays video games knows that playing online often means dealing with a variety of harassment. Whether a player hurls racial slurs, angry insults or worse, it can be incredibly frustrating to deal with.
As such, many companies that operate online gaming platforms are creating stricter guidelines that should hopefully reduce some of these issues. Microsoft, in particular, released an update to its Community Standards page this week that makes it clear when players have crossed the line.
For one, there are guidelines around specific actions, like spamming messages, griefing or other trollish in-game behaviours. However, there are also restrictions around words, phrases or historical figures you can name or allude to in online IDs, group names and other public-facing activity.
Microsoft also makes an important distinction between trash talk and harassment. Trash talk is a part of any competitive culture — online or otherwise — and Microsoft likely has no chance at eliminating it. Instead, the company makes it clear when trash talk crosses a line.
The company includes a few examples of acceptable trash talk, including phrases like “get wrecked” and “potato aim.” However, adding personal attacks, slurs or anything resembling a sexual threat is going too far.
Further, Microsoft explains the consequences, such as losing your ability to play online or having your gamertag banned permanently. While you would have to be a repeat offender to get a permanent ban, it’s still a possibility.
Another part of the new guidelines is about educating younger gamers who may be playing online for the first time. By setting out clear instructions, Microsoft hopes teens will be able to better discern between trash talk and harassment.