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Xbox introduces strict ‘strike’ system to prevent online abuse

Microsoft’s latest effort to curtail online abuse on Xbox will involve a new ‘strike’ system which may see offending players suspended for up to a year.

The tired misconception that the gaming community is toxic has largely been dispelled, but there’s always room for improvement.

The latest in a slew of efforts to curb harassment, bullying, and hate speech has seen Microsoft introduce a new ‘strike’ system for Xbox, which operates much like points on a driving licence.

Under these upcoming guidelines, players who receive two strikes will be suspended from their online account for two days, four strikes will equal a week-long ban, and those who rack up eight offences will be exiled from anything multiplayer – including all social features – for an entire year.

Strikes will exist on a player’s record for six months, at which point the slate is to be wiped clean.

In a company announcement, Microsoft included a detailed diagram so there can be no confusion over the new lay of the land. Profanity and cheating are punishable by one strike, harassment or bullying by two, and instances of hate speech by three.

Those put on time-out for accumulated strikes will still have access to single-player and previously purchased content, but the ‘most serious cases’ may prompt moderators to cut a player off from their account completely.

While one may argue that eight strikes is too lenient for repeat offenders, Microsoft has assured its player-base that fewer than 1% of all online players received temporary suspensions last year.

It also revealed that only one-third of those suspended ever received punishment a second time upon better understanding the Xbox Community Standards and what is considered prohibited behaviour.

‘The strike system is designed to further empower players to engage positively and appropriately on Xbox and with the community,’ said Microsoft, which had already implemented improved anti-abuse measures in July.

Voice messages have long been a medium of choice for disgruntled gamers hurling abuse, but an overhauled reporting system now allows 60-second audio clips to be recorded and submitted to the Xbox Safety Team from within the console dashboard.

As someone who has previously been sanctioned by Xbox, despite being the obvious victim of another player’s trolling and abuse, it’s important to note that anyone can appeal a strike here – if you’ve indeed been had.

Xbox also gives the assurance that all complaints and reports are handled by official employees, just in-case you were worried about an OpenAI application sifting through your messages.

Will the threat of strikes be enough to keep our inboxes free of nonsense until this time next year? Only time will tell.