And what’s wrong with the word gay?
Microsoft used to be cool many years ago – now just part of the right wing establishment.
I had that problem with MSN groups when they had them. I couldn’t have ‘gay’ in my username. they are so tight-assed. Somebody else on the same group whose name was Theresa Ryan couldn’t have her name on her profile because her name accidentally spells the word Aryan. Thers-a-ryan!!! How DUMB can they be?
The problem is one of shifting semantics as far as I can tell… if “gay” hadn’t been recently co-opted into homophobic slang as a synonymn for “crap” or “rubbish” this wouldn’t have arisen. I imagine there are lots of gamers who would otherwise use “gay” in that derogatory context.
I think somewhere down the line someone got a bit overzealous not to cause offence by censoring offensive terms and inadvertantly fell into the very trap they were trying to avoid. Microsoft doesn’t generally have a track record as a homophobic institution as far as I’m aware, though there’s no accounting for individual employees. Too close to call really, so I’m reserving judgement.
@Flapjack – The use of gay for homosexual is not recent. I know it was used by Cary Grant in 1938s Bringing Up Baby and I’m sure I could find older references if I bothered to look. The use of gay as stupid or crap is a more recent term, but that’s not Microsoft’s intended usage in censoring, or they would block THOSE terms. It’s the religious right not wanting to recognize or admit there are out gays and Microsoft is acting on their standards. If I played these kinds of games I wouldn’t get an Xbox just because of the deliberate discrimination. Because hey, wouldn’t want people to get offended by my lesbian lungs breathing their straight religious air.
Debbie C – I’m well aware of the many ways the term “gay” has been used over the last century. You only have to watch the Flintstones to know that “we’ll have a gay old time” ain’t necessarily implying that Fred and Barney had a thing for each other when Wilma and Betty had their backs turned.
I still think that knowing what the potential PR fallout is from pejorative use of the word ‘gay’ is most likely what set this whole mess in motion.
I recently did a course in CG animation (the grads from which often end up working in games) and I was shocked at the amount of guys using “gay” as in “rubbish/ crap”, and some students using it were themselves “gay”, as in “homosexual”. As a gay guy, I even pulled a few of them up on it myself. Unlike the fellow students on my course, I would imagine Microsoft would be trying to avoid accusations of casual/institutional homophobia like the plague – thus overzealously censoring everything that could be remotely construed that way, even place names.
Semantics are a notoriously slippery beast, and we haven’t heard both sides of the story, so I’m not going to start grabbing my pitchfork and demanding Bill Gates’ head on a platter just yet.
As a lifelong Mac user I can’t believe I’m defending Microsoft, but… they really aren’t homophobic. In fact they’re among the best companies in the world to work for if you’re gay, and they’ve actively promoted gay rights outside the company as well. They just have the same problem here that Apple has with iTunes. They want all the services tied to their name to be blandly disneyfied liberal utopias free of sex, politics, and intolerance. And since ‘gay’ potentially touches on all three, it often gets singled out for foolishly heavy-handed treatment.