Players of XBox online have been banned from using the name “thegayergamer” by internet company Microsoft.
boomtown.net reports: “Many expressed the feeling that there’s enough stupid homophobia (and other forms of bigotry) on Xbox Live without MS getting in on the act.”
However, the company has denied the charge of prejudice against gay people, saying the name was of a “sexual nature” and in contravention of the XBox Live terms and conditions.
“We received a complaint on the Gamertag and determined that it did indeed contain sexual innuendo.
“Now granted, there could be an argument that the text is not pejorative to homosexuality and should therefore be allowed. But there is no context to explain that.
“Gamertags are visible to everyone and it would be hard for me to defend to a parent of a young child who saw it that the name did not contain content of a sexual nature.”
“To answer the question another way, yes ‘TheStraighterGamer’ or ‘TheHeterosexualgamer’ would have gotten the same treatment and would have been found to be in violation and forced to be changed. We’ve actually done that to tags like that before.”
A survey published last year fount that online gamers face a homophobic culture.
The Gaymer Survey, conducted at the University of Illinois and involving over 10,000 respondents, found that gay gamers experienced a high level of homophobic attitudes and language.
88% of respondents said that they had heard the phrase “that’s so gay.”
84% said that the word ‘gay’ had been used in a derogatory way.
Over half of the respondents felt that gays were stereotyped, 52% found gaming worlds to be hostile to gay and lesbian gamers, while 42% felt that gays were under-represented.
Only a minority of participants (9%) claimed that they had never encountered anti-gay remarks.
Jason Rockwood, who conducted the survey, said: “Gay gamers experience a double-edged sword of prejudice.
“The mainstream gay culture and media is not supportive of video games. Then you have the video game culture that is not supportive of gay culture,” he told innewsweekly.com.
“So you have these people stuck in the middle who have this double-edged prejudice.
“I’m hoping this survey would shed some light on how or why people go through such a process.”
The survey also produced an insight into the use of gaming avatars.
Gay people are slightly more likely to buy games that include sexually attractive avatars.
And bisexuals tend to show a preference for playing with an avatar that is a different gender from their own.
30% of survey participants were heterosexuals.