Xbox enshrines wholesome ‘trash talk’ in its community standards

Xbox enshrines wholesome ‘trash talk’ in its community standards

Microsoft changed the wording of its standards, explicitly banning offensive trash talk on its services and offering less crass alternatives. It sounds hokey at first — the examples of player banter sound so calculatedly good-natured they’ll make your teeth ache at first glance — but considering how often players can’t seem to tell the difference between trash talk and harassment, it’s an instruction some will need.

The changes to Xbox‘s community standards were first spotted by eagle-eyed Redditors. The strictures on trash talk are in the fourth section, “Keep Your Content Clean,” where Microsoft outlines its desire to keep the platform accessible to all. It also acknowledges that some feisty words will be said: “We get it—gaming can be competitive and interactions with other players can get heated. A little trash talk is an expected part of competitive multiplayer action, and that’s not a bad thing. But hate has no place here.”

To help players understand the difference between banter and hate, Xbox lists a few offensive phrases, and a few that get the same message across without being hurtful. The examples of inoffensive trash talk are so wholesome the term may no longer apply. Here are some of the bad examples:

  • Get <sexual threat>. Can’t believe you thought you were on my level.
  • Hey <profanity>, that was some serious potato aim. Get wrecked, trash.
  • Only reason you went positive was you spent all game camping. KYS, kid.

And here are their better counterparts:

  • Get destroyed. Can’t believe you thought you were on my level.
  • That was some serious potato aim. Get wrecked.
  • Only reason you went positive was you spent all game camping. Try again, kid.

Sounds almost laughable, right? The Redditors certainly had a laugh about the situation. Until you consider how many younger users are on Xbox, and how often they take their cues on how to behave from other players. When the mods of Reddit’s r/games community shuttered it as a PSA on April Fool’s Day, they posted an album of comments they got on a regular basis. It’s not exactly the same as the “bad” Xbox examples above — it’s worse. And, when redditors discussed it, lots of them didn’t see how what was being said was bad or harmful.

By giving clear examples (and constructive advice), Xbox might help to curb that sort of behavior in younger players. In the “consequences” section, the rules state they’re “not out to punish” but also that offenders can have restrictions put on their Xbox accounts, including the ability to play multiplayer games, talk to other players, or share content. Repeat offenders can be banned outright.

The rest of the rules have a ring of exasperated familiarity about them. Xbox clearly knows exactly the kind of people who are likely to be repeat offenders. Their warnings — “If you’re looking for a place on the internet to be overly edgy or get that rise out of people, Xbox isn’t the place for you” — are very pointed, like a teacher who makes a general chastisement about troublemakers while looking directly at the most rebellious student.

As cheesy as the warnings sound, the fact they’re so specific is helpful. Vague warnings about how inappropriate words won’t be tolerated don’t do anything for young gamers. But these fairly gentle and helpful examples are something all gamers can read.</p>

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