Xbox boss urges games industry to improve safety for players
The head of Microsoft’s Xbox gaming platform has urged the industry to work together to improve safety for those using their platforms.
Phil Spencer said Xbox would “commit to working across the gaming industry on safety measures” to protect gamers.
Video games have come under increased scrutiny in recent months in the debate over the need for increased regulation of tech firms.
A House of Commons select committee currently leading an inquiry into addictive technologies is looking at the impact of video games on young people.
In a blog post on the Microsoft website, Mr Spencer said:
“The gaming community continues to grow rapidly and the imminent rollout of new game services such as Apple Arcade, Google Stadia and Microsoft’s Project xCloud will make gaming available to even more people worldwide.
“Our industry must now answer the fierce urgency to play with our fierce urgency for safety.
“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.”
He added people who imagine video games as just a hobby for teenage boys need to “think again” and that “gaming is for everyone” and must “promote and protect the safety of all”.
Mr Spencer also used the blog post to make three pledges on behalf of Xbox, one of the largest gaming platforms in the world.
“By uniting as an industry, we can thoughtfully and deliberately continue building a safe and inclusive gaming environment for everyone,” he said.
“Microsoft, Team Xbox, and I are personally committing to this, beginning with the following principles and actions: we commit to be vigilant, proactive and swift.
“We commit to empowering you to safeguard your gaming experience the way you want.
“We commit to working across the gaming industry on safety measures.”
The Xbox boss said the platform would work on responding to abuse more quickly and improve its communication with users, citing the recent publication of a new set of Xbox Community Standards, which have been designed to more clearly show behaviour that is and isn’t acceptable on the platform.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) already classes addiction to video games as a medical disorder and will shortly vote on whether to class it as an official disease.
Mr Spencer said although the games industry still had issues, it could also be a force for good.
“This widespread embrace of gaming and its global communities have turned video games into the world’s leading cultural industry, bigger than movies or music,” he said.
“But it also comes at a time when digital life includes a growing toxic stew of hate speech, bigotry and misogyny,.
“No different from rock ‘n’ roll, books and TV before them, video games are often dismissed or maligned as frivolous, fraught with violence or filled exclusively with hate-mongering.
“But gaming is uniquely designed for equality. We don’t just walk in someone’s shoes – we stand on equal footing, regardless of age, education, socioeconomics, race, religion, politics, gender, orientation, ethnicity, nationality or ability.”