At the DICE Summit in Las Vegas Microsoft’s head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, put a lot of emphasis on how Microsoft, as a company, has evolved into an iteration more accepting of new ideas and embracing diversity.
“We stand for inclusivity. I personally committed to do better,” he said. “I think it’s a leader’s job to absorb the hit, to take personal accountability. And to be clear about our culture: who we are and what we stand for. Just as culture is renewing Microsoft, I think culture can be the tool that enables us to realize the true power and potential of gaming.”
He also spent time talking about something gamers have known for a long time: that gaming culture and industry is unique and has an uncanny ability to bring together people from all types of different backgrounds. “It is the only art form where you walk in someone’s shoes and you see the world from their eyes. It’s the only art form where you are on equal footing, regardless of age, education, socioeconomics, race, religion, politics, gender, orientation, ethnicity, nationality, or ability,” Spencer enthused. “This is why gaming can be one of the great equalizers and great unifiers for society. Together, we can make gaming a reflection of the world we don’t just want to see, but help change it into the world we want it to be.”
Anyone who has spent time in World of Warcrafts “Barren Chat” or dared to not be born a professional in League of Legends is aware that the anonymity of the internet has potential to create toxic environments in gaming. Gaming circles and media are reporting more and more frequently about harassment and abuse in the video game industry and in the games themselves. Phil Spencer placed emphasis on the fact that Microsoft is aware of these issues and emboldened those who listened to try and put an end to toxicity in gaming culture when the chance arises.
“Honestly, toxic behavior doesn’t just hurt the individual it hurts our entire industry,” he said. “When toxicity is aimed at one of us, it stops with all of us. That’s why I’m encouraged when our community comes together to talk about specific actions.”
As far as solutions to the problem go, Spencer spoke in general terms and didn’t offer up much in the way of a concrete solution. Toxicity in gaming and online interactions is a perplexing problem. A person shouldn’t be subjected to harassment and abuse when trying to enjoy a game they purchased but attempts to censor the anonymous peons are usually met with severe backlash.
Do you game on Microsoft platforms or play Microsoft games? Leave a comment and tell us if you’ve experienced problems with toxicity and if Microsoft has done enough to deal with it.