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Xbox boss Phil Spencer wants to fight toxic behavior in games

Xbox One

Anyone who spends any amount of time gaming online knows this, but things can be pretty rowdy. While there’s plenty of harmless jokes and memes going on, there’s an undeniable darker element. Head of Xbox Phil Spencer emphasized in a blog post in which he wrote about this ongoing problem of misogyny, bigotry, harassment and exclusion.

This is especially important to address for gaming as it becomes more and more accessible for families and new generations. As gaming continues to evolve as both an art form and entertainment medium, it has to confront ugly truths, and part of that process is deciding how to deal with the truly undesirable behaviors which are increasingly commonplace online.

“If you imagine gamers as predominantly men and specifically teen boys, think again. 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,” Spencer wrote. “Most gamers today are adults; nearly half are women.”

This process will not be an easy one, but Microsoft wants to put its full might behind the effort developing new innovations to help identify and moderate this kind of behavior. Laying out a three point plan to combat said toxicity, Spencer makes three pledges to deal with these problems.

The first pledge the post makes is to correct oversights in the Xbox Community Standards, and and the Xbox Community Ambassdors programme, making policies and punishments clearer.

The second step will involve developing new technologies to help track and remove this behavior when it’s found. THe core focus here is to openly share the technology with anyone that wants it, individual or organization, and to allow them to integrate it into their digital lives. The company took a similar approach to PhotoDNA, software that helps detect and delete child pornography, which it shares freely with those combating that problem.

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The plan here is to share new moderation tools that not only empower users to take charge of, and control, their own exposure to this toxic behavior, but also to help educate users and creators alike about the real impacts of this kind of negativity. The mental impact of harassment and bigotry alone cannot be overstated, to say nothing of the tremendous physical costs that violence fueled by these things causes. For one thing, the process of creating and controlling family and child accounts on Xbox will be refined and expanded in 2019.

The final pledge is to spread the innovations and ideals that Microsoft develops to the rest of the gaming industry. By demonstrating success in this area, the gaming giant hopes that other companies will learn the needed lessons and join the battle against toxicity and darker influences online.

The whole thing ends with a simple and effective call to make games more fun and enjoyable for all.

“We invite everyone who plays games, and industry partners, to join us in following these principles to help unify the world and do our part: make gaming accessible for everyone and protect gamers, one and all.”

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