In what may be a first in video game history, Halo 4 executive producer Kiki Wolfkill and head of 343 Industries Bonnie Ross have stated that they will be taking a zero-tolerance stance towards sexist and otherwise discriminatory conduct on Xbox Live. Any players who are found making discriminatory comments towards others will be permanently banned from the network.
Speaking with GameSpot, Ross and Wolfkill said they believe developers are responsible for how their games are perceived in the community, and this includes monitoring player behavior as well as teaching others that the games industry is not an exclusively male-dominated area. In fact, many are still surprised to hear that the current head of the Halo franchise is a woman.
Ross noted that she has seen “…many of the sites that have documented some of the more gender-specific slanderous comments. This is behavior that is offensive and completely unacceptable. I’d like to think most of our Xbox Live players don’t support this kind of behaviour.” In addition, the developers made sure to be conscious of what was behind their decisions while making Halo 4. Ross says they “…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.”
It’s great to see a developer take a proactive stance to stamp out discrimination in online gaming communities and send a strong message saying that such behavior will not be tolerated. It’s important to remember, however, that women are not the only minorities in the gaming community, but this is definitely a step in the right direction.
Halo 4 launches on November 6th for Xbox 360.