In a bid to tackle the usage of offensive and inappropriate language in online multiplayer games, Microsoft is adding a new safety feature called Xbox Voice Reporting in Series S|X and Xbox One consoles. This new feature is Microsoft’s attempt to make the online game voice chats a safe space for players. And while this idea does sound good on paper, not everyone is onboard with the concept.
David Jaffe, creator of the immensely popular God of War series, has taken to YouTube to express his views about the Xbox Voice Reporting. To begin with, he specifies that he is completely against the toxic environment that online abuse and inappropriate behaviors create. Swearing, targeting a particular person based on their gender, identity, or physical flaws, does need to stop. However, after reiterating his support for the idea, he delves deeper into what it could actually mean for the gamers.
David Jaffe speaks his mind about Xbox Voice Reporting
Trash talk can be an essential factor for various types of gaming experience. Even in real life sports, trash talk is one of the coveted traditions followed by most players (expect the ones in international limelight). It could be a bonding experience among friends or a way to fuel a friendly rivalry.
According to David, without the levy of such freedom, the online gaming experience could easily become ‘vanilla and dull’. He goes on to clarify that he supports the right of every person to feel safe while gaming online, reading and supporting a comment of a female gamer who iterates she’s happy about this new Xbox Voice Reporting feature, as she was often a victim of targeted abuse.
However, Jaffe also explains that most of these games can be played without having to engage in voice chat (a practice he often follows unless he’s playing with friends). He also focuses on the cathartic power this adrenaline-pumping trash talk can have on people. He likens this to a pressure release valve, claiming the players, especially young gamers, can use trash talking to release some pressure.
How does Xbox Voice Reporting work?
In order to offer an uninterrupted gameplay experience, the Xbox Voice Reporting feature works in real time. During the online multiplayer gameplay, if a user encounters someone using inappropriate language, they can record a clip of the misdemeanor without stopping the game. This clip can be of maximum sixty seconds and can be delivered to the Xbox safety team for review. Upon review, the safety team will take the necessary action.
The need for such safety features
Verbal abuse, racial slurs, sexist comments, and offensive language have all plagued online multiplayer games, such as Fortnite, Call of Duty, Overwatch, and many more. Many a times, incidents involving these things lead not only to hurt sentiments but can also discourage players from engaging in these games.
Then there lies the question of children playing these games. Even with age rated titles and various security mechanisms in place, young gamers often do participate in online multiplayer games. The influence of these types of behaviors on young children has been a hot topic for parents and legislators for a long time. Moreover, women and LGBTQIA+ community members often report pointed violence and unnecessary aggression from other players on such online gaming platforms.
Context is important
At the end, the true power and responsibility lies with the safety team at Xbox. Deeming what counts as a fun-filled trash talking among friends and what exactly counts as abuse is a hard call. Here lies the rub. One cannot simply circle some words or phrases or actions and condemn them.
Context remains the most important thing. In increasing PC culture of the modern day, sentiments of anyone can be hurt by anything. While there are some universal rules that need to be followed, the picture of a ‘bad guy’ is certainly not as clear as the finger-snapping, leather-jacketed, slick-haired hooligan. While this new safety feature is certainly a welcome addition, it won’t be clear what cultural impact it has on gaming until some cases are pulled, reviewed, and acted upon.