Head of Xbox Phil Spencer discusses the two “fundamental truths” about gaming that he believes in
Many of us have been at the receiving end of some kind of unwanted behavior online – particularly insults in competitive multiplayer games. For some time, it felt like this sort of treatment went hand in hand with the gaming culture and to a degree, it was almost accepted as that’s how things were. Thankfully, times are starting to charge and although there’s a lot more work to be done, head of Xbox Phil Spencer has stepped up to share his beliefs about the growing range of the video game industry’s audience, inclusivity and the “growing toxic stew of hate speech, bigotry, and misogyny.”
In a recently published op-ed over on the Official Microsoft blog page, Phil discusses two “fundamental truths” about gaming. In his first truth he outlines the importance that “gaming is for everyone” – regardless if the player is new to gaming or if they are a veteran – everyone should feel welcomed to play as no one group “owns” the industry or the hobby; “In this way when everyone can play, the entire world wins”.
“If you imagine gamers as predominantly men and specifically teen boys, think again. We are a 2.6 billion-person strong community of parents playing with our kids, adventurers exploring worlds together, teachers making math wondrous, grandmothers learning about their grandchildren through play, and soldiers connecting with their folks back home,” Spencer wrote. “Most gamers today are adults; nearly half are women.”
Spencer then goes onto to address the second fundamental truth and that is that gaming “must promote and protect the safety of all,” regardless of their political beliefs, gender, sexual orientation, or ethnicity.” He declares that over the years since games have taken over the huge cultural giants that are movies and music, the downside of that large growth and popularity is that it has started to become a “toxic stew of hate speech, bigotry, and misogyny.”
Spencer carries on to write about the social benefits of gaming and points out that “Among teenagers who play games online with others daily, 74% have made friends online and 37% have made more than five friends online”. He also brushes across the importance of gaming for the elderly, especially those who suffer from Alzheimer’s as it could improve their memory.
Additionally, Spencer says Microsoft will be giving community managers on Xbox Live new moderation tools that help it better regulate behavior within the platform’s Club system. The company will also streamline the process of creating a child or teen account and says it will be giving resources to its 150,000-person Xbox Ambassadors program to help create an inviting and safe environment for all gamers.
Phil ends his post with a closing statement where he says Microsoft is committed to “working across the gaming industry on safety measures,” stating that his team will “openly share safety innovations with our industry.” As the games industry stands on a precipice of a new age of digital streaming and cloud gaming services, Spencer notes that soon an even larger audience will be introduced to video games.
“Our industry must now answer the fierce urgency to play with our fierce urgency for safety,” writes Spencer. “We invite everyone who plays games, and industry partners, to join us in following these principles to help unify the world and do our part: make gaming accessible for everyone and protect gamers, one and all.”
As E3 draws closer, a few weeks ago Phil Spencer tweeted that he was traveling off to Asia to talk with Japanese and Korean companies about potential plans involving what Xbox is set to reveal at the show.