Microsoft: Gay Tony OK, Gay Gamer Tags Not Yet

This fall, an Xbox 360 game will have the word "gay" in its title. But will 360 gamers be able to call themselves gay by then?

During an E3 interview with Microsoft's corporate vice president of Xbox Live software and services John Schappert I posed a question that I'd been sent by a reader:

How did the company reconcile the fall offering of a game called "Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony" with the fact that Microsoft still doesn't let gamers mention their sexual orientation in their Xbox Live profiles or use the term gay in their Gamertag?

"I think the two are very separate issues," Schappert responded. "That said, [Xbox Live head of standards enforcement]Stephen [Toulouse] continues to work with our team and we continue to look for ways for people to personally express themselves and you can look for more features coming to Xbox Live, but nothing to announce right now. They're working on some of that stuff and the community has been very involved. We try to walk the fine line where we do the right thing to allow people to express themselves but not have it be taken overboard.

In February, following the allegations by a gamer that she was banned from Xbox Live because she identified herself as a lesbian Toulouse told me that his team is working on a solution. The team wants "to provide the capability for our users to express relationship preference or gender without a way for it to be misused." I had suggested letting people mark a checkbox or use a pull-down tab to denote their sexual orientation.

At E3, I pressed Schappert on whether the fall release of the "Grand Theft Auto" episode was a de facto deadline to get this all sorted out, as to avoid a double standard. He reiterated his reply that the game and the Xbox Live standards are two different issues. And it's not as if games haven't already allowed players to be gay or witness gay relationships, as seen in Fable II or Mass Effect.

Letting a gamer identify their sexual orientation on Xbox Live is not a dead matter. Schappert concluded: "I can say that we are working on that issue."


    What I can't understand here is this. What does it matter if you're gay or not, it's a gaming service. People arn't going to put "heterosexual" in their gamer tags, and I bet if they did Microsoft would ban their tags too.

    Sexual preference is completely irrelevant when it comes to gaming, xbox live is not a dating service. I say good on Microsoft for not allowing this type of new age rubbish to poison their online service.

      I completely agree... its got absolutely NOTHING to do with gaming. It's not a dating service, if people wanna hook up online then they can find people on or whatever. I'm quite sick of hearing about all this to be honest.

      As much as I dislike Microsoft in general I must admit they, IMO, did the right thing. You cant have a gamertag like "imafag" or "ilikeboys" or whatever, you just cant. Because at the end of the day Microsoft are TRYING to keep this a family-friendly service too. Just like Sony with PSN and Nintendo too. You cant expect little Billy's parents to let him play online and enjoy the experience when every second gamertag has got sexual messages riddled throughout.

    If this is being taken as some sort of civil rights issues in which the poor downtrodden gay community are prevented from 'expressing' themselves then i say GET A GRIP.
    Xbox Live is a game service for gaming and if you have some desperate need to divulge to everyone that you are a homosexual, straight or whatever, you probably have some serious problems and therapy might help you more.

    Ugh these comments.. sigh. Heres the thing. People do say they're straight on there profiles . It may not be a boy thing but lots of the gamerchix will say something like "I'm living with my boyfriend" (translation, I'm straight) or will have a description of themselves (which they must have put there because they want to date people, clearly *sarcasm*), etc etc. Theres even Things like "christian gaming league" and what not. Its a bit of a grey area but these things are somewhat against the TOS. Unfortunatley bad spirited people only seem to attack and report the people who have decided to state there sexuality, whether it be a lesbians misguided attempt to get guys to stop hitting on them or just because they are proud of who they are. They aren't looking to "date" anyone because of the statement.

    For equalities sake, I think they should replace the profile fields with a couple of questions about gaming with drop down menu answers. Want to get to know each other? That's what messaging's for.

    The whole subject is ridiculous. Who really cares if someone says they're a lesbian in their gamertag? It's a word...lesbian...look I'll say it again....LESBIAN! See, nothing happened. I'll admit your sexual orientation really has nothing to do with gaming...but once again it's just a word so who really cares?

    Whats the news here? GTAIV is rated for 15+ so no kiddies can access it without accepting those terms. Putting "homosexual" related tags and content are not rated so can be accessed by all ages.
    Its actually a very logical decision by Microsoft.

    Its not a question of whether someone is gay or straight or whatever. The problem is that it can be abused. People could have "IhateGays" as a tag or "Lesbianseatp*ssy" or something like that. It is less complicated to ban the use of the word as apposed to manually searching every listing with "gay" in it. As microsoft say if someone said "Iamaguyandiliketohumpchicks" it still would be not aloud. I do think that anyone should be able to put down there preferance if that is what they want to do. Realistically it doesn't hurt anyone.

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