Does Microsoft Plan A Bounty On Gaming Trolls?

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Steve Anderson
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Does Microsoft Plan A Bounty On Gaming Trolls?

There aren't many people out there who enjoy gaming trolls. Sure, sometimes the antics of same can be amusing, but all too often it's a slew of racist jokes, sexist comments, and all-around unpleasantness that just puts more than a few people off gaming. Microsoft is out to counteract this by offering up what may be one of the first such things of its kind, a kind of bounty system to find trolls in two new initiatives.

The initiatives in question are called Enforcement United and Xbox Community Level, in which Microsoft turns over issues of the community to the community. Enforcement United allows gamers to take a more active role in deciding whether certain content issues violate Microsoft's terms of service. This is an exciting development by itself; having a say in the content that emerges can really have an impact on what kinds of content are produced, giving everyone a better chance at the kind of experience the players would like to see. More specifically, this program—which is still in beta—will have players gauging whether or not certain Gamertag names are offensive and should be banned, or are not offensive and should be permitted. The resulting votes are compiled and action taken accordingly.

But it's Xbox Community Level that may have the most interest. In Xbox Community Level, positive contributions to the community are tracked and rewards are provided for same, which in turn allows players to “unlock loot,” as Xbox Community Ambassador program owner Bobby Lamirande describes. Those involved in the Ambassador and Enforcement United programs will receive experience points for the involvement, and as players level up, they get access to the loot in question. Finding and helping to get rid of trolls, meanwhile, is also on the docket, though just what the “loot” in question actually is is unclear.

Xbox Live has something of a bad reputation in the gaming community, and has for some time now, as being a haven for assorted bad actors and loudmouths who take a particular delight in the coarsest of language. It's clear that Microsoft wants to shake that up, especially with the imminent arrival of the Xbox One console, and enlisting the community's help to do just that is a smart idea. Better yet, knowing that “improving a video game community” isn't much of an appeal even to altruists—it's hard to take much interest in a community that vanishes when a button is pressed—adding tangible rewards to the process is likely to only improve things.

The idea is at least reasonably sound, and hopefully the rewards are up to the level of work that's likely involved. Microsoft's got a pretty smart idea here, and one that will likely—especially when coupled onto the idea to move all the trolls into a kind of online velociraptor pen to let trolls play trolls—make the next generation of online gaming at Microsoft a kinder, and much more civil overall, excursion.
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