343 Industries studio head Bonnie Ross and Halo 4 executive producer Kiki Wolfkill say that sexist and other anti-social behavior on Xbox Live is unacceptable and that they have a responsibility to tamp down or eliminate sexism in the industry. They also said that Microsoft does its best to monitor and ban players who abuse other players over Xbox Live. Ross and Wolfkill made their comments to GameSpot this week to promote Halo 4. Ross and Wolfkill said there is zero tolerance for Xbox Live players who are making sexist or discriminatory comments against others and such behavior comes with a very steep penalty: a lifetime ban from the network.
"I've seen many of the sites that have documented some of the more gender-specific slanderous comments," Ross said. "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 behavior."
"It can be dangerous to give adolescents a broadcast mechanism," Wolfkill added. "There are always going to be jerks out there, and if you give them a way to express that side of their personality without being seen, you're going to see this type of behavior manifest itself."
Ross and Wolfkill also emphasized that developers also have a responsibility to stamp out sexist behavior by putting more thought into how their games will be perceived.
"As developers, we have a personal responsibility to think about how our games come across," Ross said. "With Halo 4, we 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."
"Most people look at a franchise like Halo, and automatically assume it's run by a guy," Ross said. "People are surprised to learn that it's a woman who's running the Halo 4 show. When Microsoft created 343 Industries to take over Halo, I was given first choice to run the studio because I had proven myself. My gender played no part in it."
Halo 4 is due exclusively for Xbox 360 on November 6 worldwide.