Xbox head Phil Spencer says 'gaming is a unifying force,' promises better moderation tools for safety

What you need to know

  • Gaming Disorder may be added to the World Health Organization's list of diseases this week.
  • Microsoft recognizes that more can be done to improve safety on Xbox Live.
  • Phil Spencer laid out a plan for how to make Xbox Live a better place for everyone.

This week, the World Health Organization will vote whether it wants to add "Gaming Disorder" to its official list of diseases. While researchers have known about the problem for quite some time, a body of this magnitude hasn't officially recognized it. It seems that it will likely pass because there have been a lot of high-profile deaths linked to excessive gaming.

With the vote looming, Microsoft's Phil Spencer shared some thoughts about making gaming "safe" for everyone. This mostly revolves around combating hate speech and improving parental tools to prevent overuse. He said the following in an Xbox Wire post.

Today… I shared my views on gaming as one of our society's great unifying forces… For many people around the world, gaming is the first entry point into technology. This widespread embrace of gaming and its global communities have turned video games into the world's leading cultural industry, bigger than movies or music. It's essential that we embrace our role and take responsibility for creating safe gaming. When people call video games a waste a time, I point them to the well-documented health and social benefits of gaming. Beyond pure exhilaration, gaming helps children with autism make new friends and seniors with Alzheimer's improve their memory. Researchers have found that gaming teaches adults leadership, improves decision-making, and reduces stress and depression and also teaches kids computational skills and empathy… gaming is for everyone… gaming must promote and protect the safety of all. Gaming must be a safe environment. Microsoft… and I are personally committing to making gaming safe for everyone.

There are a number of ways Microsoft wants to improve Xbox Live. Spencer outlined some of the major steps in the same post.

  • We commit to be vigilant, proactive, and swift. We will identify potentials for abuse and misuse on our platform and will fix problems quickly. We are also intent on expanding the composition of our safety team so wide-ranging perspectives can help us identify future safety problems and solutions… hate and harassment have no place in gaming.
  • We commit to empowering you to safeguard your gaming experience the way you want. We believe in equipping you with the tools to customize your gaming experience fit for your personal comfort level. This summer, we are empowering… community managers with proactive content moderation features that will help create safe spaces for fans to discuss their favorite games.
  • We're innovating now in… concrete ways to reduce, filter, and develop a shared understanding of toxic experiences, and to ultimately put our community of gamers, and their parents or guardians, in control of their own experiences.
  • Microsoft has made… technology universally available to everyone… to fight the spread of child pornography. These steps are necessary if the company wants to keep Xbox Live a safe gaming space for everyone. However, his points don't lay out concrete steps to prevent overuse. Adding a screen timer — just like iOS — which shows how long you've been gaming for may be a meaningful addition.

Do you consider Xbox Live a safe place to game? What are some of your concerns? Let us know.



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Asher Madan

Asher Madan handles gaming news for Windows Central. Before joining Windows Central in 2017, Asher worked for a number of different gaming outlets. He has a background in medical science and is passionate about all forms of entertainment, cooking, and antiquing.