A gay gamer has been forced to change his online screen identity after being told his username is too “vulgar” and “offensive” for internet role playing game City of Heroes.

The game, run by international software developer NC Soft, refuses to allow the use of the word gay, changing it to symbols like swear words.

Online gaming enthusiast, Shane O’Neill, 29, told The Pink News: “My first character was called ‘The Gay Avenger’, however when I typed in the word ‘gay’ it would not allow it and came up like this ‘@#’.

“I typed other random swear words and each of them came up the same.”

“I found that if I produced a character called The GayAvenger, all being one word, that this was accepted.

“I have played the game on and off for about six months now, and produced many characters such as The GayController, The GayRevenger, until finally settling for my main character The GayHealer.”

His enjoyment was spoiled after receiving an email from the website saying he had broken the game’s rules,

he said it was the first time he had been discriminated against for being gay, “I thought it was humorous to have a gay character, but someone complained in Italy, and then they deleted my character after a year.”

NC Soft claimed in an email to Mr O’Neill that he had broken their terms and conditions by using “vulgar or offensive” words in his username.

The company bans the use of words that can be used in a “derogatory fashion,” a spokesman for NC Soft told The Pink News: “Certain words have to be screened to ensure that the game experience is enjoyable for all – these mainly include swear words but have been increased to include ‘pop’ words and phrases that can be used in a derogatory fashion towards other players therefore we sometimes apply filters for these two sections of the game.

“As a publisher of massively multiplayer games, we have a global audience from a variety of different backgrounds and nationalities, with that in mind we have to put in place measures that ‘protect’ our audience as a whole as best we can.”

Mr O’Neill said fellow gamers had supported his choice of name, “People have been very interested in my characters names and commended me for being openly gay.

“Discrimination of any sort, physical or mental should not be tolerated in this day and age, and the simple fact that the people who run the game see the word ‘gay’ as a swear word, should also not be tolerated and sends out the wrong message.”

This article first appeared in the October issue of The Pink News which is out now