In an incident exposed this week, Microsoft gamer Josh Moore was banned for listing the name of his hometown: Fort Gay, West Virginia. According to Associated Press' Vicki Smith, Moore's account stayed suspended even after he called customer service.
"I figured, I'll explain to them, 'Look in my account. Fort Gay is a real place,'" Moore reasoned. But the employee was unreceptive, warning Moore if he put Fort Gay back in his profile, Xbox Live would cancel his account and keep his $12 monthly membership fee, which he'd paid in advance for two years.
"I told him, Google it - 25514!" Moore said, offering up the town's ZIP code. "He said, 'I can't help you.'"
AP also reports that the mayor of Fort Gay couldn't even convince Microsoft that Moore lived in a real place. The ineptitude here is startling: Customer service had his credit card information and could have easily verified his zip code, if not his whole address. Instead, Moore's Microsoft issue hit the local news, the Associated Press, USA Today, GayGamer.net and, of course, BNET.
It is the latest in Microsoft's bumpy relationship with the gay community, but the collateral affects all gamers.
- February 2009: XBox Live begins kicking off gamers who identified their sexual orientation within their online profile. Many people in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community have to revise their profiles or, worse, create entirely new accounts because their tags includes the word "gay". The irony, of course, is that gay is also common in last names, cities and other identifiers, so people not intending to reveal their sexual orientation are kicked off as well. It leads to the high-profile "Richard Gaywood" incident.
- March 2010: Microsoft suddenly revises its XBox Code of Conduct to allow sexual orientation within XBox Live profiles. As USA Today notes, Microsoft also warned that "[t]his update also comes hand-in-hand with increased stringency and enforcement to prevent the misuse of these terms."
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