Insults, whether funny, kind or witty, are an integral part of online gaming. But in the United States, you shouldn't joke about the harassment that goes with it. That's why, as a preventive measure, Microsoft has updated its guide to good manners, explaining what constitutes "acceptable insults" and unacceptable insults to American online players.
Of course, trash talk is part of what attracts some players to online gaming, bit it's not the few million Xbox Live players who have decided on where to draw the line. Microsoft reminds us in its guide to good conduct: "We get it—gaming can be competitive and interactions with other players can get heated". But it's like everything else, you have to know how to use them with finesse and respect. Unable to sanction its players with questionable behavior, the American giant has therefore updated its practical guide to online gaming behavior.
From jokes to harassment, it's a fine line
To best illustrate this short guide, Microsoft gives concrete examples of acceptable and unacceptable insults. This shows that one word can make all the difference when it comes to crossing the line with your trash talk.
Know the difference between trash talk and harassment
|Acceptable trash talk||Going too far|
"Get destroyed. Can’t believe you thought you were on my level."
"Get <sexual threat>. Can’t believe you thought you were on my level."
"That was some serious potato aim. Get wrecked."
|"Hey <profanity>, that was some serious potato aim. Get wrecked, trash."|
|"Only reason you went positive was you spent all game camping. Try again, kid."||"Only reason you went positive was you spent all game camping. KYS, kid."|
|"Cheap win. Come at me when you can actually drive without running cars off the road."||"Cheap win. Totally expected from a <racial slur>."|
|"That sucked. Get good and then come back when your k/d’s over 1."||"You suck. Get out of my country—maybe they’ll let you back in when your k/d’s over 1."|
It is better to aim like a potato than to make sexist, racist, homophobic comments or incite hatred...
"Hate has no place here"
If we dig a little further in this manual of good conduct, we find the five fundamental values that represent 'the spirit of Xbox'. And last but not least, we find in the fifth shared value: "Hate has no place here". Unfortunately, hate speech, which is a major social issue in the United States, remains present on online platforms such as social networks and indeed online games. Hence the well-placed advice from the American software giant.
Microsoft's other four core values are all equally telling. "Gaming can be enjoyed by all, "Creativity powers community", "Competition is best when it’s fair" and "Helping others makes all of us stronger", are the mantras Microsoft is using as a way of asking its Xbox Live community to make the platform a nice place to play.
Benevolence according to Microsoft
Beyond tolerance, Microsoft asks its users to be caring and make sure everyone is protected, by ensuring that threatening content does not appear online or through messages, whether based on racial, sexist or homophobic hatred.
Microsoft finally seems to follow the general trend that, in recent years, has been repressive of dubious online behavior. It seems that Americans (and the rest of the world) have realized the impact of harassment, especially after recent 'shock' TV shows such as 13 Reasons Why, released on Netflix in March 2017. It showed that an act that seems harmless at first sight can lead to irreversible acts.
Even if the action of the Microsft is done with good intentions, it remains funny. Fair play for trying, perhaps, but frankly, I doubt it will have an impact on the players... except to make them smile a little. Especially since this somewhat clumsy approach gives the impression that the company is only waking up now to the insults and harassment that is happening on its Xbox Live platform.
What do you think of this guide to good online gaming? Have you ever heard trash talk like this before?