Toxicity and offensive language in online games is fairly common. So common in fact, that many developers and platforms are taking to increasingly stringent filters to curb the problem. After all, dealing with people and trying to teach them to not be crass is much more difficult than just filtering out their nonsense. And with Xbox pushing for a more family-friendly experience in online games, with an aim to create a more inclusive gaming experience for all, it looks like the Microsoft gaming division is opting for more filtering as well.
The Xbox team have announced that player-centric filters will reduce the amount of this behavior shown in text communication methods for Xbox One games. This feature is due via a console update by the end of 2019. And of course, players have an opt-out option if they don’t mind the issue itself. The system will be designed with multiple levels in mind, with each level of filtration being completely customizable. Microsoft has released a video detailing the new system, check it out below.
The Friendly, Medium, Mature and Unfiltered levels will each offer their own levels, with the Friendly level being the most thorough. The Friendly setting will be applied to all child accounts, and will change all text containing profanity or words with negative associations with ‘Potentially offensive message hidden’. I have to wonder though if these techniques will fall into the same trap YouTube fell in, and begin filtering LGBTQ+ content as well. Medium allows some profanity through, although it will target slurs and bullying terms and remove them from comms. The Mature filter will only remove the most offensive language such as racial slurs from texts. And of course, the Unfiltered setting will disable the filter system entirely.
“We believe that gaming should be inclusive and welcoming for everyone, which means creating experiences and communities that invite everyone to play safely and responsibly,” said Dave McCarthy, corporate vice president of Xbox operations. A noble cause most certainly, but it will be very interesting to see how the system changes over time. And with many other companies, like Blizzard with Overwatch, having already kickstarted this trend of better enforcement against toxicity, let’s just hope the issue sort of solves itself.