Microsoft’s announced new Xbox Enforcement Measures to stem the tide of abuse on Xbox gaming services. It’s both a touch sad that we need them – and good that they’re present.
Online gaming can be an exceptional way to play and connect with people, whether they’re friends and family, or friends you just haven’t made yet. With gaming being an absolutely mainstream activity for the vast majority of Australians – and possibly more popular than the AFL, a topic we covered on Vertical Hold recently – it’s a key part of the way we spend our leisure time.
But it’s not all flowers and headshots, sadly.
Have you met the Internet? Big place, full of lots of jerks who either don’t get the line between friendly banter/trash talk and abuse, or those who just take a sick pleasure in making other people feel bad about their play style or lives.
Microsoft’s announced changes to its online policy regarding safety, with what it calls “enforcement measures” related around its existing Xbox Community Standards.
Under the new system, gamers will get eight “strikes” on their account, with different levels of reported and quantified incidents getting different ban levels.
As per Microsoft’s Xbox Wire:
The system is similar to demerit strikes used in driver’s license systems in many countries.
For example, a player that has received two strikes will be suspended from the platform for one day, whereas a player that receives four strikes will be suspended for seven days.
Players have a total of eight strikes and, once reached, will be suspended from Xbox’s social features like messaging, parties and party chat, multiplayer and others for one year from the enforcement date.
All strikes received stay on a player’s record for six months.
Today, players will all begin with a blank slate, or zero strikes. Any previous enforcements, such as suspensions, must still be completed; new enforcements as of today will result in strikes.
Microsoft also notes that particularly egregious or illegal activity can still result in permanent bans not only from online activity, but also purchased content. There is an appeals system in place if users feel they’ve been mistakenly banned.
Good stuff, mostly.
Look, I do think it’s a bit sad that it’s needed in the first place, because Wheaton’s Law is a generally good guide to online etiquette, but people online are emboldened by the fact that often all they can see is a keyboard or microphone, not a person on the other end of the conversation.
It’ll be interesting to see how the strikes roll out in terms of overall enforcement; I do think having chances here is a good idea given that there’s always differences in what one social group might see as “harmless banter”, not to mention maturity levels and differing cultural viewpoints.
Microsoft’s data suggests that most gamers tend to stop dodgy behaviour after a single ban – now a strike – though I wonder how many of those try to skip around this with secondary accounts, long a favourite of the online trolling crowd.
Finally, I’m not the only one getting a Judge Dredd vibe from “enforcement measures”, am I?
I guess it fits. Too many strikes, and you will indeed be sent to the Iso Cubes.