Phil Spencer promises to fight online toxicity

In a recent editorial blog post, Xbox head Phil Spencer promised that the company will work to fight toxicity online. In addition to this, Spencer expressed the importance of recognizing the diversity of the gaming community.

As part of the blog post, Spencer outlined three key initiatives of the Xbox team in regards to combating online toxicity. The first of these initiatives involves continued vigilance from the Xbox Safety Team. As part of this, the company is working to make the team’s composition more diverse. Additionally, it will also give Xbox community leaders, known as Xbox Ambassadors, “community missions” to help create a more welcoming environment online.

The Xbox team’s second initiative involves creating more tools for players to adjust their level of engagement online. This will allow them to customize their settings to match their comfort level.  The team will be giving more moderation tools to Club Managers in the summer, followed by further moderation tools by the end of the year.

Additionally, the company is also committing to helping out parents. Tools for parental controls will be made easier to use. This includes the new “For Everyone” page on the Xbox website where parents and guardians can learn more about their new inclusivity and safety features. Additionally, the team is also launching Gaming Summer Camps to teach kids healthy gaming habits this summer.

The third initiative will see Microsoft sharing its safety tech to the rest of the industry. Team members compared this to how they shared their PhotoDNA technology with police to help them fight child pornography.

As part of this, the blog mentioned other services such as Google Stadia and Apple Arcade, in addition to Microsoft’s own Project xCloud. The company mentions these as opening gaming to more people worldwide.

“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,” Spencer said. “But it also comes at a time when digital life includes a growing toxic stew of hate speech, bigotry and misogyny.”

The post ends with a call to not just their peers in the industry, but to everyone who plays games to follow in the principles they outlined to make gaming more inclusive.

Toxicity has long been an issue with online gaming. While some may see it as just a part of the culture, the growth of gaming as a hobby and an industry means more and more people are playing games. Toxicity threatens this by painting players in a negative light and possibly driving people away from games altogether. As such, it’s good to see industry leaders taking more steps to fight it. That said, that’s only one part of the puzzle, as players themselves will also need to step up in the fight against online toxicity.