Jean-Paul Sartre’s play “No Exit” provided us with the phrase “Hell is other people,” and if you’ve dared to leave your mic or chat settings open while arriving to an online game, you’ve probably been able to apply this quote to some vile experience you’ve had. Xbox head Phil Spencer seems to have online toxicity high on his mind recently, as he offered some time to Kotaku to elaborate on controls arriving to Xbox Live in order to make online gaming safer and more inclusive.
The interview was spurred by a May 20th blog post by Spencer, in which he outlined tenets that gaming should be for everyone and that “gaming must promote and protect the safety of all.” The post went on to further announce new community guidelines, and new moderation features offered to Club community managers this summer and more widely available to all by the end of the year.
When pressed on what prompted the post, Spencer did not mince words:
“I’ve been public before: Xbox Live is not a free speech platform. It is not a place where anybody can come and say anything. And as we’re working to ensure it’s a safe and inclusive environment for everybody, I don’t want to be opaque about it. I want to be out there front and center so that you understand our motivation.”
Spencer believes the incoming moderation tools will help Xbox Live users better curate their experience when finding others to play a game with. He also believes that most of the Xbox Live account settings take away some of the power of anonymity, particularly with the ease one can rebuild an account on other platforms like Twitter. Whether these controls will help or simply be a bump in the road to someone being a digital Gibbering Mouther, however, remains to be seen.