Thursday, September 9, 2010

Xbox LIVE locks out ‘Fort Gay’ gamer [X360]

Political correctness takes a step closer to complete insanity, as Microsoft bans a gamer from Xbox LIVE just because of where he lives.

You see, Josh Moore, a 26 year-old unemployed factory worker with a penchant for first-person shooters, is a resident of “Fort Gay”. This diminutive West Virginian ‘burg dates back to 1789 and is thought to be named after an American Civil War nurse. Sadly, Xbox LIVE staff knew nothing of this and didn’t even bother to check the town’s existence. Instead they suspended Moore’s Xbox LIVE account when they saw what was considered to be an offensive term in his gamer profile.

Needless to say, Moore was somewhat dumbfounded, complaining: "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."

You might think that such a simple mistake would be easy to fix with a quick phone call to Xbox Customer services. Alas, this only seemed to make matters worse: "I figured, I'll explain to them, 'Look in my account. Fort Gay is a real place. I told him, Google it - 25514!" said Moore, identifying the town's ZIP code.

However the Xbox LIVE employee responded with a stern warning that if Moore put Fort Gay back in his profile, they’d cancel his account and keep the two years’ subscription fee he’d already paid in advance.

Even Fort Gay’s Mayor, David Thompson, was unable to help, and was summarily informed that “Gay” was deemed an insulting term when used in any context. Which, of course, is complete nonsense – quite apart from its ‘Happy’ meaning, Microsoft itself has recently changed its policy, allowing Xbox gamers to express their sexuality in their profiles and gamer tags.

But it took Xbox LIVE’s director of policy and enforcement, Stephen Toulouse, to finally break the unfortunate impasse.

“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. Unfortunately, one of my people agreed with that. When it was brought to my attention, we did revoke the suspension."

"In this very, very specific case, a mistake was made and we're going to make it right."

To which end, staff training has since been improved and senses of humour have been reset. At least until the next moronic misunderstanding hoves into view...

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