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Halo 4 devs: "Sexism is unacceptable."

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Microsoft strives to monitor and ban offending players

Female gamers often have a hard time when playing online, many finding themselves on the receiving end of offensive and sexist comments. Today the developers of upcoming Xbox 360 shooter Halo 4 have spoken out against such behaviour.

Halo 4 executive producer Kiki Wolfkill and 343 Industries boss Bonnie Ross spoke to GameSpot to denounce sexist behaviour on Xbox Live, and revealed that Microsoft does strive to monitor and ban players who abuse others over the network.

"I've seen many of the sites that have documented some of the more gender-specific slanderous comments," Ross said. "This is behaviour that is offensive and completely unacceptable. I'd like to think most of our Xbox Live players don't support this kind of behaviour."

Ross and Wolfkill believe that developers have a responsibility to prevent such behaviour by considering how their games will be perceived by an audience that includes a great many adolescents.

"As developers, we have a personal responsibility to think about how our games come across," Ross said. "With Halo 4, we were very deliberate in thinking about who should be female and who should be male in the game, and if we came off stereotypical, we went back to question what we were doing and why."

Wolfkill agreed that games often reflect the culture of the studio which develops them, also stating that the commercial success of a game can also come down to consumer responsibility. A significant part of this responsibility includes altering perspectives about the games industry as a male-dominated arena.

"Most people look at a franchise like Halo, and automatically assume it's run by a guy," Ross said. "People are surprised to learn that it's a woman who's running the Halo 4 show. When Microsoft created 343 Industries to take over Halo, I was given first choice to run the studio because I had proven myself. My gender played no part in it."

The hotly anticipated Halo 4 is due for worldwide release exclusively on Xbox 360 on November 6th. It’s the first numbered Halo sequel to be developed outside of Bungie Studios.



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Staff article by David Owen (October 31, 2012)

David Owen is a freelance writer who also contributes to VG247, Eurogamer, IGN, and others. He likes Gitaroo Man more than is healthy.

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zippdementia posted October 31, 2012:

I will say, and I'm not being sarcastic, that one of the reasons I don't play a lot of online multiplayer shooters is because of the extremely offensive userbase. It just makes what should be a fun game not fun. I feel like gaming culture has to change on a deeper level than just moderation for this to change. It's a little bit like attacking a giant with a toothpick; and you're not even targeting his special shiny spot.
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Roto13 posted October 31, 2012:

Yeah, I don't play online games with strangers because too many of them are horrible idiots.
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bbbmoney posted October 31, 2012:

Put people on mute or just play with friends, problem solved!
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honestgamer posted October 31, 2012:

The sad part is how many people really need to go on mute. If they're not screaming stupid stuff, half the time they're yelling at family members without realizing (or maybe caring) that their Kinect is piping everything into the game lobby or match. Playing with friends really is the best course of action, but finding a large crew in the first place requires you to brave the general chaos...
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pickhut posted October 31, 2012:

Back when I played a lot of Halo 3, it got annoying to the point where the only pleasure I got out of the general stupidity of what came out of some of these gamers' mouths was just to record gameplay footage as I played, then upload them to youtube for all to see. Like this montage of UNO matches I played one night. Ah, UNO...

I have another UNO video... but it's loaded with slurs and stuff. The one I have linked is tame in comparison. >_<
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zippdementia posted October 31, 2012:

Wow. And that's in effing UNO. Also hilarious. And incredibly annoying.
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zippdementia posted October 31, 2012:

Oh, and yeah, Jason! I remember it being terrible in Uncharted 2. People would leave their music on in the background or some screaming kid or it sounded like they were playing next to a chainsaw. It was horrible.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted November 01, 2012:

Blech. I hate how so many multiplayer communities are as bad, if not worse, than the old forums at AudioGalaxy in its heyday.
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space_dust posted November 01, 2012:

Yeah, I mostly just mute everyone when playing online these days. It's a shame. Every now and again you come across someone you really enjoy playing with.
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Suskie posted November 01, 2012:

I haven't been into online multiplayer forever, but I've never once had the experiences that you're all talking about. When I've played console games online, including Halo, most people don't even use mics, and those who do generally only communicate in ways that forward the game, or simply talk like regular people. I've encountered a few loudmouths dickheads here and there, but they're always the outliers. I've never encountered the vast communities of these people that everyone always complains about.
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bbbmoney posted November 01, 2012:

I'm with Suskie here. When there *is* an obnoxious person on the mic, there's usually a bunch of other people telling them to stfu. That's about as bad as it gets.
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EmP posted November 01, 2012:

I'm still playing a lot of ME3 multiplayer, and it's a slight problem at times, but i usually just bail lobbies when people are talking stupid shit and playing their awful music in the background and jump right into another where everything is cool.

My favourite bit of online multiplayer rage, surprisingly, also happened in a game of UNO.
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honestgamer posted November 01, 2012:

It sounds like Uno is more hardcore than any of us knew.
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zippdementia posted November 01, 2012:

I can believe that some people have either been lucky or desensitized to gamer bullshit, but I would argue that it definitely exists in large and easily accessible quantities. I don't play with friends a lot simply because of the odd hours I keep (I usually can't game until around 11:00pm) and because I play different games than them. I've encountered so much bullshit in games, it's ridiculous. Left 4 Dead 2 was the absolute worst, which is sad because it's also had some of my favorite experiences when it works. I got kicked from games for not "playing the right way" or for not using a mic or because my name didn't have numbers in it. I got kicked for killing more zombies than the lead player and for "stealing" his kill on the Witch. I got called gay a thousand times for saving another man on the team and was once called a nigger lover the whole time I was playing the black guy.

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