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‘Halo 4′ has a zero tolerance policy towards sexism

By 11.06.12

If you’re a jerk to women, you get a lifetime ban from the Halo 4 and Xbox Live, simple as that.

343 Industries

For those of you who picked up Master Chief’s latest and greatest, or planning on it later today, a word of warning: in order to enjoy Halo 4 with zero hassles or incident, you had better watch what you say while playing online, especially among the ladies.

The news was first reported by Gamespot in the UK a little while ago, but bears repeating, since the game just came out today: anyone who is caught making sexist (or discriminatory) comments will have a lifetime ban from the network as the price. Period. End of story. What’s the deal?

Well, according to 343 Industries head Bonnie Ross:

I’ve seen many of the sites that have documented some of the more gender-specific slanderous comments… This is behaviour that is offensive and completely unacceptable. I’d like to think most of our Xbox Live players don’t support this kind of behaviour.

It can be dangerous to give adolescents a broadcast mechanism… There are always going to be jerks out there, and if you give them a way to express that side of their personality without being seen, you’re going to see this type of behaviour manifest itself.

With Halo 4, we were very deliberate in thinking about who should be female and who should be male in the game, and if we came off stereotypical, we went back to question what we were doing and why.

As developers, we have a personal responsibility to think about how our games come across… With Halo 4, we were very deliberate in thinking about who should be female and who should be male in the game, and if we came off stereotypical, we went back to question what we were doing and why.

The interview concludes with how the Halo show is now run by a woman, which might be a surprise to many males out there (I guess the statement implies that its previous handlers, Bungie, were mostly dudes). But Ross also states how her gender plays no role in her decision to ban sexist dudes.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being a forthright and stating “I’m a woman and I’m sick of how my kind are being treated online, hence the rules.” To be honest, it would be more honest and easier to digest.

Needless to say, this is bold new waters that Microsoft is crossing, and not everyone is happy. Many guys find such a policy to be b.s. and the handiwork of a woman who clearly has let power gotten to her head. Though more interestingly enough, I’ve gotten the same reaction from female friends of mine when explaining the new policy as well.

Mind you, they are gamers of various degrees; the one who only plays iOS games isn’t as exposed to the peanut gallery of Xbox Live. But the one that is, while happy to see sexist behavior stamped out, still believes a lifetime ban is excessive and ultimately does little to address the root of the behavior. And if anything, gives angry dudes more or a reason to hate on women.

I personally have two responses to the matter:

A. Stating that Xbox Live is somewhat dangerous, because it allows certain behaviors to not only be displayed but also “manifest” is an extremely dangerous admission. Since one of the biggest battles that video game industry has faced is the perception that kids who play violent games will themselves become violent.

B. If Halo 4 is all about being non-sexist, then what’s the deal with Cortana’s attire, or lack thereof? And especially how her breast size seriously increases with each installment. I’m a red blooded male and all, but even I find that incredibly dumb.

About Matt Hawkins... Matt Hawkins is an NYC based video game journalist, designer, consultant, and cultralist. He's been published in EGM, Kotaku, and MSNBC amongst others. Matt also makes comics and zines, is obsessed with cable access, gets into arguments with homeless people all the time, and once had his nipple bitten off during a one night stand. But that's neither here nor there.
TAGSGamingHalo 4Halo 4 banHalo 4 sexismMicrosoftSexismVideo gamesXbox Live

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