Microsoft has announced the Xbox Enforcement United program for Xbox Live Gold members for both the Xbox 360 and upcoming Xbox One. Gold subscribers can sign up for the beta now, to gain the ability to report any offensive or abusive content they come across while online.
The beta program starts with Enforcers being shown a variety of Gamertags, to judge whether or not they find them offensive. If enough people with a solid history of responsible reporting mark a Gamertag, the person under review may be forced to change it.
The Xbox Enforcement United program works in tandem with Xbox’s new crowd-sourced idea to have self-appointed Community Ambassadors (who spread Christmas cheer throughout the land by helping out other players) gain Community Levels to get virtual rewards and the opportunity to provide feedback to Xbox to help improve their services.
Both programs have been created in response to the growing desire among online gamers to have a more positive, participatory Xbox Live community. For years, online gaming — especially on Live — has had a toxic environment. Anyone who has played Halo or Call of Duty online can attest to the pervasiveness of sexist, racist, or just plain childish insults so commonly heard through headsets. Anyone who has not gone online can witness the same behavior with a quick Google search for “Xbox Live abuse” or a quick visit to fatuglyorslutty — a website created to catalog (and laugh at) the depressing regularity of sexualized abuse hurled at women through Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network.
The fact that Xbox has taken notice of the problem, and are taking steps to remedy it, is encouraging. We don’t know at this time how Xbox Enforcement United will extend beyond Gamertags or exactly what sort of “loot” will be rewarded, but it is certainly a step in the right direction.