The story of the boy who cried wolf is not all that uncommon, and often relates to apathetic parties, who truly should be concerned in urgent matters. Xbox Live and the Microsoft Corporation are in the business of user experience, not just games; when there is offensive language present on a profile, it’s generally removed. However, a misunderstanding from an Xbox Live agent has now offended an entire city in West Virginia.
When signing up for Xbox Live for the first time, one of the optional areas is to place where you live. Strangely enough Xbox Live does not have a drop down menu for this area, but rather lets users place any text they want in. This in turn allows people to create made-up fictional locations, or in one user’s case, a real location, but little known to those outside of West Virginia.
Josh Moore of Fort Gay, WV was suspended from Xbox Live for stating his official location on his profile, Fort Gay. Someone had reported the content as offensive, and he was suspended. When Moore contacted Xbox Live about the suspension, they told him the location would either have to be removed, or he will have a permanent suspension, and no refund of the two years of Xbox Live he already purchased.
“I was mad. It makes me feel like they [Microsoft] hate gay people… I’m not even gay, and it makes me feel like they were discriminating.”
Moore’s futile attempt to persuade the Xbox Live agent to just Google search his town, or even zip code, resulted with a cold shoulder. According to Moore, the agent told him that using the word gay was inappropriate, regardless of how it’s being used. Historically, the word gay was also used in place of the word joy, or even happiness (Example: “I feel pretty, witty and gay.” — West Side Story, I Feel Pretty).
Additionally, Moore told the Xbox Live agent, “Google it — 25514! He said, ‘I can’t help you.’”
At this point the mayor of Fort Gay, David Thompson, had now contacted Xbox Live, and received similar responses. “If it was so inappropriate for them, they wouldn’t even say the word,” Thompson told AP. “They said, ‘that word.’ It’s beyond me. That’s the name of our town! It’s appalling. It’s a slap in our face.”
Like most chains in customer service, if the front line agent can’t provide you with reasonable information or a response, you climb higher. Xbox Live Policy and Enforcement Director, Stephen Toulouse, reached out to Moore, and apologized to him after hearing of the issue through several media sources. Additionally, Toulouse stated that offensive content gets reported without any other context. “The agent simply looks at the language and determines whether it complies with policy,” Toulouse told AP.
Fort Gay mayor Thompson feels that Xbox Live owes him and the resident s of his city more than an apology. According to AP reports, Mayor Thompson has yet to receive any official response from Xbox or Microsoft Corp. On March 5, 2010, Xbox Live updated their Code of Conduct to allow differing sexual orientations, like gay or lesbian. With that in mind, it makes this situation a bit more odd.
Moore reportedly enjoys playing first-person shooters like Call of Duty, Ghost Recon and Medal of Honor.
Source: The Associated Press