In an effort to curb toxic online behavior, Microsoft has released a list of acceptable trash talk terms, which include "get wrecked" and "potato aim."
It's no secret that the online gaming experience is rife with uncouth, foul-mouthed strangers who need to express their rage by spattering expletives at a bullet-speed pace. It's so widespread and frequent that it's almost embedded into the video game experience, and worse yet — video game culture. Game companies can only do so much to try and make it less toxic. But Microsoft has a few, well, ideas.
Microsoft Lists All Acceptable Trash Talking
The company recently updated its Community Standards page with detailed guidelines about content standards, fraud, cheating, and all sorts of other behavior Microsoft closely regulates on its Xbox Live service.
Included in those guidelines are a handful of tips for avoiding suspensions and bans. One of them is refraining from saying awful things to fellow players. Microsoft has pretty strict restrictions around what kind of language can be used to trash talk opponents. As much as it wants to erase trash talking for good, the habit has become integral to video game culture. So, instead of expunging it, the company is trying to make it less toxic.
Microsoft says players can criticize specific instances of poor play by saying, for instance, that a gamer has "potato aim," inspired by the popular meme. They can also say "get wrecked" or "get good" as a form of less-toxic banter. Personal attacks, slurs, or anything that resembles a sexual threat are all unacceptable, as are insults on identifiable traits including gender, skin color, and nationality. Microsoft will swiftly hand down punishments for those who cross the line.
"We may permanently suspend a profile or device if we can no longer trust it due to a severe violation, or if our attempts to correct repeated negative behaviors are unsuccessful," Microsoft said.
A Safe Environment
Microsoft says these standards aren't a new set of rules. Instead, they're a call to action that it hopes will empower all players to take a second look at their behavior and adjust accordingly in order to be a force of good.
Microsoft's replacement trash talk terms might sound silly, but the underlying attempt is commendable. It's not every day a company commits to ensuring all players have an enriching and safe online environment through which they can communicate with others. Hopefully others follow suit.
"A little trash talk is an expected part of competitive multiplayer action, and that's not a bad thing," Microsoft said. "But hate has no place here, and what's not okay is when that trash talk turns into harassment."