Xbox Live is a breeding ground for hateful, inflammatory remarks of all genders, races, creeds, and sexualities, where aimless insecurities are flung around like rocks at street signs. Who would have thought that it would be Microsoft doing the discriminating for once?
A 26-year-old gamer from Fort Gay, West Virginia was banned momentarily from his monthly membership when Microsoft enforcement officials deemed his profile inappropriate. His crime? Listing himself as a proud resident of "fort gay WV."
"At first I thought, 'Wow, somebody's thinking I live in the gayest town in West Virginia or something.' I was mad. ... It makes me feel like they hate gay people," said Josh Moore, an unemployed factory worker.
When Moore contacted Xbox Live to explain how wrongful a decision they had made, the agent seemed impervious and unwavering to the fact that Fort Gay was called home by roughly 800 citizens. Even offering a zip code didn’t deter the iron fist of the voice over the phone, who told him if he chose to reference Fort Gay in his profile again, they would cancel his membership.
The incident gained the attention of Mayor David Thompson, who tried his hand at amending the situation and was met with the same fate, being told that the word “gay” was inappropriate no matter what the context.
"It was so inappropriate for them, they wouldn't even say the word," Thompson told the Associated Press. "They said, 'that word.' It's beyond me. That's the name of our town! It's appalling. It's a slap in our face."
"Someone took the phrase 'fort gay WV' and believed that the individual who had that was trying to offend, or trying to use it in a pejorative manner," said Stephen Toulouse, director of policy and enforcement for Xbox Live. "Unfortunately, one of my people agreed with that. When it was brought to my attention, we did revoke the suspension."
Xbox Live agents are not given the context of the phrase or what games the player frequents. Agents are only able to see the language which has been reported, reaching a determination when it’s compared to their Code of Conduct policies. As egregious an error as this was, given the number of complaints filed against the incessant hordes of mongoloids on Xbox Live, one can’t help but sympathize with how easy it must be for something with legitimacy to fly completely under the radar.
"Absolutely, a mistake was made here, and we've updated our training to account for that. In this very, very specific case, a mistake was made and we're going to make it right."
Mayor Thompson is still waiting on his apology.
"I'm furious about it. That's our town. That's our heritage. I've lived there my whole life and I'm proud to be from here," said Thompson. "Just to say 'I'm sorry' to me is not good enough. They offended a lot of people in our town."
Residents of Climax, Michigan, Gayville, South Dakota, and Knob Lick, Kentucky be forewarned—your Xbox Live account might be next up on the chopping block.