Strap yourselves in, this one’s gonna be a long story. NSFW language inside.
Xbox Live has a bit of a bad reputation- the stereotypical image is that of immature teenagers playing Call of Duty online, yelling racist and homophobic slurs at each other over their headsets. And this story only reinforces that image.
Last month, female player Jenny Haniver was playing Call of Duty online when she began to be harassed by a certain player: “You on your period or something?” the player said. “‘Cause you didn’t do too hot. Being a leader. Of the other bitches that were on your team.”
He proceeded to get even nastier as he sent her voice and text messages after the game, where he said: “I’m gonna impregnate you with triplets and make you have a very late term abortion.”
The user name was PHATDOG, and in this case, the Reputation System for Xbox Live on Xbox 360 seems to have been useless, as he appears to have a full five star rating.
Haniver did the right thing and filed a complaint, reporting the user; she also sent an email to Microsoft’s enforcement group as well. But she never got a response. When, on August 10, PHATDOG was still active and it appeared that Microsoft had taken no action, after a full two weeks of her tweeting Xbox and trying to follow up with the enforcement group, she was stunned.
“One of my biggest issues with this whole thing is that Xbox Live was not able to point me towards a human being who was actually capable of addressing my concerns,” Haniver told Kotaku. “It was a lot of repeating that they cannot comment on specific cases, I should file a complaint, and trust that it will be reviewed.”
When Kotaku attempted to reach out to Microsoft for a comment, here is what they had to say: “Bullying and harassment of any kind are not welcome on Xbox Live and are taken very seriously. Members should immediately report inappropriate behavior through the complaint tools in the service. The Xbox Live Policy and Enforcement Team investigates complaints that are filed, and they take enforcement action – up to and including permanently suspending the accounts of offenders – as there is evidence to do so. We do not comment publicly on specific cases nor do we provide direct feedback on all complaints in order to prevent individuals from abusing the system and to prevent retaliation.”
But yeah guys, she did that, but the guy in question doesn’t seem to have been punished.
Finally, Haniver just went ahead and posted the whole thing on her blog, where it was picked up by media websites. As of August 12, PHATDOG seems to be suspended or banned, but it stings Haniver that it took so long, and for her to create a media circus out of the thing, to elicit any response that was not automated.
“In short, their customer service is pretty shit in this respect,” she said. “I’ve been gaming on Xbox Live for almost six years now, and I’m sick of feeling like the legitimate complaints I file are ultimately kind of pointless.”
Stuff like this is why gaming is still perceived as a nerd’s hobby, something someone with no social skills does; Microsoft’s failure to act on this problem is indicative of a deeper issue, one with all our mindsets.
For Xbox One, Microsoft is working on a better, more effective Reputation system to avoid incidents like this. One can only hope it will work better than the one on Xbox 360.