Phil Spencer has recently been more vocal than normal in discussing how his work aims to bring inclusivity to gaming and its users. Stephen Totilo of Kotaku recently sat down with Spencer to discuss the motivations behind these projects and what lies ahead for Microsoft in the future.
Spencer recently penned a 1,200 word blog post titled “Video Games: A unifying force for the world” on May 20, 2019. It is definitely worth a read, but if you are short for time, the central theme of the post is that Spencer aims to promote safe, inclusive gaming environments for everyone in the future. To do this, they look to target some of the growing types of toxicity that we see online, including hate speech, bigotry, and misogyny. By identifying potentials for abuse, Microsoft can then work to fix problems quickly, as “hate and harassment have no place in gaming.”
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Throughout Spencer’s blog post, it becomes clearer that he and the team at Microsoft put significant value into this theme. Spencer continues by stating:
“I’ve been public before, Xbox Live is not a free speech platform. It is not a place where anybody can come and say anything. And as we’re working to ensure it’s a safe and inclusive environment for everybody, I don’t want to be opaque about it. I want to be out there front and center so that you understand our motivation.”
Anyone who has ventured into the comments section of a YouTube video, or observed some of the worst Twitch chats can attest to this odd phenomenon where suddenly the shield of anonymity turns normal people into vitriol-spewing monsters.
The unwavering devotion to the idea of promoting inclusive spaces for gaming is certainly a lofty and idealistic goal, and it is refreshing to hear that at its core, the premise seems to be at the forefront of the Microsoft game team. This contrasts sharply to developers who pay lip service to the idea, but underdeliver on the promise of working to eliminate toxicity.
Inclusivity goes beyond ensuring that toxicity is kept to a minimum, it can also refer to other projects we have seen recently, such as the Adaptive Controllers made specifically for players with handicaps and who cannot use the traditional controllers. By focusing on including those who have limited mobility and struggle with the design of the default controller, Microsoft again aims to walk the walk and bring in as many people as possible.
The commitment to inclusivity is perhaps one of the most important components of video gaming culture for the future, and it is great to see Spencer at the helm leading the charge.
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