XBox Live Thinks One Name is Offensive, Rock Band Says Another Isn't Classy

Meet Steph Tytus and Varun Nangia, two more readers whose names were too inappropriate for XBOX live. Varun was forced to change his gamertag, which was his first and last name, and Steph tried to create a band using her name so the world can know that she rocks. Sadly, Rock Band thinks her name isn’t “classy,” and spat our an error message.

Here’s Varun’s letter:

Today, I discovered I couldn’t connect to Xbox Live. After calling “Shanya” at Xbox Live (could not understand her, despite trying very hard), I was told that the Xbox Live service was down. How odd – everybody else, including my flatmate, on the same console is able to connect.

So I called back and “Ryan” answered. Ryan spent 35 minutes diagnosing my issue, making me connect, disconnect, reconnect and otherwise delete, undelete and trash my account. All the while, I explained to him that it clearly was NOT an issue with the connection, and not an issue on my end. After struggling to read his script, he finally took pity on me and followed my instructions to see whether there was anything wrong with my account. Sure enough, there was.

The system had tagged my Gamertag as offensive. What was my Gamertag? First name + last name.

What?!

That’s right – my first name + last name is an offensive combination to the people who run Xbox Live. I asked Ryan what to do and he suggested changing the name order around.

So I’ve been forced to change my Gamertag – which means all the time that I’ve been using Xbox Live (about 30 months), my name has been offensive and apparently in violation of their terms, but they didn’t bother to check or notify me or… well, do anything, really, except disconnect me today. I note that they updated the terms in 2005, twice in 2006, once in 2007 and somehow, I was in compliance with those terms all this time. Yet despite no change in the terms since June 2007, I am now in violation of those same terms. Explaining all this to the supervisor, “Lawrence”, on the phone resulted in long, unintelligible mumbles (it was as if he arbitrarily picked words and letters out of the dictionary, strung them together, and then ran the whole gibberish through a randomizer), I was told that it was for my own security and protection they had decided that my name was offensive. Oh and the name that I had spent a while building an identity around? Yeah, there’s no compensation for that. Nor did my preferences transfer over. In fact, I’m completely SOL…

Oh, for pete’s sake, Microsoft.

Comments

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  1. Parting says:

    What twisted meaning do they look for?

  2. donnie5 says:

    steftytus sounds like a disease, maybe they thought it was an STD or something.

  3. crabbyman6 says:

    I wonder what’s not classy about this. Maybe they’re just not happy that its an actual firstname + lastname?

  4. ehrgeiz says:

    Uh that is rock band I think, not guitar hero.

  5. graymulligan says:

    I’m starting to wonder if there’s not a glitch in the MS matrix. This one just makes no sense at all.

  6. How about The Colonel Angus Experience? Would that be OK?

  7. Brain.wav says:

    That’s not Guitar Hero, that’s Rock Band. Not sure why that would be flagged as inappropriate by RB though.. I’ve seen some pretty immature band names on there.

    Moderately Satisfying Sirloins, forever!

  8. sn1per420 says:

    That’s not Guitar Hero, it’s Rock Band.

  9. WiglyWorm must cease and decist says:

    Ok…

    A) Stop blaming Microsoft for not banning your name right away, everyone. You too, consumerist. Microsoft has better things to do than be name police, and I’m glad they’re not spending my Xbox live fees to BE the name police. They wait untill they recieve a complaint, and then ban.

    and

    B) What the heck is improper about VarunNangia? Perhaps Microsoft should actually LOOK IN to the names that get reported, because it seems like in this case they banned without even looking at it.

    I could understand TheGAYERGamer and RichardGaywood (sorry, there’s no way Microsoft could expect people to think RichardGaywood was a real name, and not a “clever” euphamism for “DickHomoBoner” and I totally support them on that one), I really could. But… this makes absolutely no sense, and her gamertag should definately be reinstated. This makes no sense.

  10. henrygates says:

    They probably fear lawsuits if someone hunts down Steph because she had her full name listed on xbox. Having your full name may also be against their TOS.

  11. Fxer says:

    I’m thinking Tytus Experience comes up as “s ex” in the filters. I don’t see anything wrong with stephtytus. So no plurals + “experience” in name bands.

  12. HIV 2 Elway says:

    Moral of all the x-box stories, fuck Bill Gates. Hey Bill, I’m sick of Word auto-formatting my documents. Believe me, I know how I want my document to look more than you do.

  13. Is it possible the system just detects letter patterns? “Varun Nangia” is a *little* close to a word that might be construed as distasteful, though still a stretch. Mike Hunts of the world, you’re on notice…”Mike Hunt Experience” is not going to fly.

  14. rmz says:

    @HIV 2 Elway: I heard Bill Gates wrote Windows Vista all by himself.

  15. Shadowman615 says:

    Just another computerized “dirty words filter” that is hopelessly broken and ridiculous. No one has been able to create something that even comes close to working correctly . Yet, they’re content to keep using them, no matter how much their solution (the filter) is worse than the problem it claims to fix (profanity). Boggles the mind.

  16. katylostherart says:

    oh em gee.

    mike hunt doesn’t spell anything. the end of tytus and beginning of experience apparently do. seriously they’re counting the space now?

    tytu”S EX”perience

    for those who can’t see it.

  17. Asvetic says:

    It sounds like a policy very similar to that of License Plates. It takes just one person to be offended/complain about a plate for it to be removed. Zero Tolerance. Xbox seems to adapted a similar ZT policy.

  18. boss_lady says:

    @A.W.E.S.O.M.-O: “Mike Hunt Experience” I LOL’d.

  19. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    It does seem pretty ill advised to use your full name online like that, and you can’t blame MS for not wanting what could potentially be children having their full name as their gamer tag.

    As for Rock Band, perhaps it is the same thing, where it verifies the band name against your gametag’s registered full name to make sure no kids advertise their full name.

  20. dragonfire81 says:

    I wonder if it would allow FUBillgates…

  21. raleel says:

    I’ve gotten the not classy one on Rock Band :) of course it was a little more clear cut than that. I thought it was pretty funny at the time, because i’ve not heard of a lot of classy rock bands ;)

  22. donnie5 says:

    @Asvetic: Actually, when I was in LA, my wife and I noticed several cars that had vanity plates that seemed to get through the system. Some were pretty bad, like, I do not want my kids to read that, bad.

  23. Asvetic says:

    @donnie5: Well, from what I understand, if you call the department of transportation and report the offensive license plate, it’ll be removed!

  24. moore850 says:

    Here’s why: the steph tytuS EXperience. Notice the forced caps… I can’t imagine that anyone would care about that, but wow, microsoft is really cracking down! Next, I’ll have to switch to a name like “bob” when I’m playing gears of war too, so I can realistically and aimlessly kill without offending online gamers.

  25. justification says:

    hmm…perhaps xbox blocked the name VarunNangia because it has the letters of vagina in it….maybe it is some explicit filter that doesnt work properly…

  26. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    @donnie5:

    My favorite: [www.snopes.com]

    The best part is, that’s a randomly generated tag, not a vanity plate.

  27. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    Oh yeah, fuck console gaming. And Microsoft. Have to stay on topic, you know.

  28. katylostherart says:

    let’s just start an americans with overbearing sensibilities club! all the nanny groups can tell us which words are naughty, which parts of the human body are dirty, which thoughts to think, all that good stuff. then no one ever has to worry about being offended because life simply will never ever rub you the wrong way!

    i can’t wait to move…

  29. TMurphy says:

    Get a member of the Sex Pistols to use his band name in Rock Band… I’d like to see what happens then.

  30. outinthedark says:

    @WiglyWorm: Bad thing is they are “permanently” banned and “cannot be recovered”.

    Apparently at M$ a word jumble of vagina counts as offensive. Hey I can rearrange my tag to be Naked Hut Tiro…is that offensive?

  31. katylostherart says:

    [en.wikipedia.org]

    list of songs in guitar hero. sex pistols are on that list. little self defeating there, eh microsoft?

  32. ProfStevie says:

    The funny thing about the Rock Band filter is that there are still LOTS of offensive and nasty band names on Xbox Live. You can say something nasty without using any individual bad words, and also tricks like ‘@’ instead of ‘a’, ‘||’ instead of ‘N’, etc., will work to subvert the filter. You can’t keep people from expressing themselves however they see fit, it seems.

  33. Benny Gesserit says:

    OK, as I’m way too old to rock, I’m going to donate the name of the band I was always going to start; she can use it if she likes.

    Ladies and Gentlemen, please give it up for …

    Nipple Inferno

  34. kyle4 says:

    I say Steph Tytus like “Steph Titus”. I don’t know what’s on their minds. They should get themselves together. This is bad, but at least it’s being covered so they get the negative PR from it.

  35. @katylostherart: Wow, I looked at that name for five minutes and didn’t see that. Good eyes! (Or I’m just an idiot…)

  36. donnie5 says:

    @Jaysyn: lol; stay on topic. more lol

  37. VeeKaChu says:

    We got the same message in Rock Band when my son’s friend created a character called “Mick”. Because, yeah, the Irish are sooo easily offended.

    [www.veekachu.com]

  38. Greeper says:

    THE CHILDREN, WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN!??!!!!!!?

  39. ViperBorg says:

    How about the George Bush experience? … Wait, they’ll find Bush offensive… and it’ll have nothing to do with politics.

  40. SteveZim1017 says:

    I’m sure microsoft doesnt announce every single time an issue comes up with x-box live.

    I’m sure if a parent or 2 had their lawyers send letters demanding that MS not let their little babies use real names in their gamertags just in case the millions of child molesters out there find them then MS would just say screw it and not let anyone do it.

    Last time I checked the Live TOS is pretty much says its up to MS’s discretion at any time. Its their service, they can be as picky as they want.

    oh and HIV 2 Elway: you are aware that your can turn off auto correct right?

  41. macinjosh says:

    I can’t login either.

    -Clem Midia

  42. Toof_75_75 says:

    @macinjosh: LMAO

  43. kc2idf says:

    Found it!

    Take the spaces out: thestephtytusexperience.

  44. samurailynn says:

    Why does Microsoft need to be the name police at all? When we go online with our Wii we get a message saying that online content is beyond the control of Nintendo or something like that. Basically, go online at your own risk – you might possibly be offended by something. Who cares? If parents are so scared that their kids might see the word “gay” or think that a word looks like the word “vagina” maybe they shouldn’t allow them to connect to the internet. And if it’s adults that are worried that they might see these words themselves? Maybe they should go back home and live with mom and dad.

  45. Toof_75_75 says:

    @samurailynn:
    Good call.

  46. spryte says:

    @kc2idf: Uh, yeah…someone found that an hour ago.

    FFS, read the comments, people.

    Couldn’t they institute a policy wherein, if a name is flagged that is not obviously obscene, Microsoft sent a warning message to the user letting them know the name was flagged and giving the user a chance to rebut the obscenity/inappropriate/”not classy”(WTF?) claims? If a user is an adult (or even say, over 13 or something) and their gamertag is their own name, they should be allowed to keep it. It’s not there’s anyone out there named F*ckface McGee or something…not that I’ve ever met, at least.

    I had a classmate in elementary school whose last name was Buttner…wonder how she’d fare with Xbox.

  47. Baukie says:

    Here’s perhaps the biggest slap in the face….the said the name MICK JAGGER was not classy…..i had to laugh at the one! No wonder we dont have any rolling stones dlc yet.

  48. tikuahote says:

    So when are people gonna wise up and quit playing these lame games? Why be a corporate pawn?

  49. CapitalC says:

    Official news release from Microsoft:

    “In order to protect the interests of Microsoft, we’ll now be filtering any search results on our Live.com engine which contain words which may cause children or grown men to snicker.”

  50. BigElectricCat says:

    @TMurphy: “Get a member of the Sex Pistols to use his band name in Rock Band… I’d like to see what happens then.”

    I think “Paul Cook” would probably pass muster.

    OTOH, I think Steph Tytus should change her band’s name to “The Staph Typhus Experience.” Now THAT’S a rockin’ band name!

  51. parad0x360 says:

    @HIV 2 Elway: Yes lets blame Bill Gates because im sure he is the one entering their names in the database!

    There must be more to these stories. I find it odd that MS is suddenly banning names for no reason. Its entirely possible these people being banned are dicks. They might have odd names but how do we know they didnt send a msg to another user to piss them off?

    Im not saying they did but this whole scenario just stinks because no complaints to 3+ in just a couple days yet everyone is quick to blame and nobody seems to question what is going on.

    Also why is Rockband and XBL being linked in an article. It leads people to assume this is also somehow Microsoft’s fault.

  52. design_chick says:

    I think that’s really funny considering that my friends and I have a band called “1 in the Pink, 2 in the Poop” and apparently Rock Band thinks that very classy. :)

  53. BlackWolf2000 says:

    jeez, did anyone consider banning “Microsoft”- I think of small flaccid penises when I hear that word..

  54. HIV 2 Elway says:

    @parad0x360: People post jokes on these sites. All may not be funny, but learn to recongnize them when you see them.

  55. HIV 2 Elway says:

    Also, Rockband & Guitar Hero are fucking lame. Learn to play a real instrument, the learning curve is not that steep.

  56. wickedpixel says:

    it’s because VarunNangia is an anagram for “vagina runna”. oh, that clever Microsoft and their word puzzles…

    /snark

  57. BlackWolf2000 says:

    @wickedpixel:

    My girlfriend had “vagina runna” once.. One dose of Zithromax cleared it up.

  58. DrGirlfriend says:

    @HIV 2 Elway: Because playing Guitar Hero and playing guitar are mutually exclusive activities? Or because maybe some people want to just play a friggin’ video game?

  59. LouDobbsChivasJersey says:

    There are lots of people with “Gay” in their last name. Regardless of whose “fault” this is, it needs to stop. Aren’t offensive Gamertags like pornograpy, i.e. I know it when I see it?

    Sounds to me like a BOT is to blame.

  60. pegr says:

    [www.varunnangia.com]

    He’s “LinkedIn” too. You’d think a geek would know better than to make himself so findable.

    Try as you might, you’ll never associate “pegr” with my real name.

  61. Raziya says:

    Odd, a seemingly innocuous name, too…

    HAY GUSY. GO REPORT MY HUSBAND’S XBLA NAME. It’s overdone and used by every RPG out there!

  62. chrisjames says:

    Why can’t they just stick with a peer complaint system if simple 1:1 string filters obviously aren’t good enough?

    I think someone at Microsoft didn’t understand that search engine query scorers (what this must be based on, given “Varun Nangia”) are designed to pick wildly different matches to account for spelling mistakes, and that makes for a terrible string filter. They work in search engines because they require, as a last step, human interaction. Yes, string comparator algorithms are hot-shit technology. No, they are not a panacea.

  63. Sundermania says:

    I’m still pissed that I can’t use my singer’s name in Rock Band leaderboards. “Rapeclown.”

  64. katekate says:

    @HIV 2 Elway: But I just want to play a video game! I don’t want to turn into an asshole when I learn guitar!

  65. jeff303 says:

    @spryte: Yeah but that would require, y’know, implementing this whole big expensive “offensive gamertag accusation and rebuttal” system. Much cheaper to just delete after N complaints and have tech support deal with a few peeved customers.

  66. duncanatrix says:

    My fiance’s rocker name, “Sven Jargensbar,” was not considered classy enough for Rock Band, either.

  67. Uriel says:

    Heh, “The Steph Tytus Experience” sounds sorta like, “The Hepatitis Experience”, I wonder if they did it because of that, which would still be completely stupid and lame. I wonder if Tommy Lee was in her band…

  68. Uriel says:

    God I’m glad I don’t pay people to play my own console on my own internet. Now that’s lame.

  69. katekate says:

    @NeroDiavolo: Well, xbox live doesn’t have to cost any money. If you download extra songs for Rock Band or Guitar Hero, for instance, that does cost. But just having the service to play against other folks and check scores and such is free.

  70. ajaswal says:

    MS wants to avoid a big ass lawsuit just in case someone actually would track down a person using their real name. Sounds extreamly, extreamly far fetched, but it can happen.

    Secondly…it takes more then one or two complaints to get a name ban thingy. When they do this….they aren’t going through 12 million gamertags LOOKING FOR THE BAD ONES!!! Guess who they rely on? The Gamers. If someone find the name offensive, the simply submit a complaint via the dashboard, and if XBL gets enough of them, people seriously look into it to see what is wrong. Now either MS really finds that against TOS and all that; or some people really didnt like the name..but it happened and the root cause is people submitting complaints against that persons gamertag.

  71. rabisdogis says:

    Hey guys:

    So I used to work for Xbox Live as a Support Engineer. Here’s the reason why your name was banned…

    It’s because it’s your name. I can’t tell you how many escalations I dealt with every day of someone getting their account stolen because they used their first and last name. That’s basically all someone needs to start the process. Next, they’ll call in and say they forgot their password, ask a few questions and probably get denied quite a bit in the process. After a while though, some noob will give the caller a little piece of info and after several more attempts, the caller will have enough info to call in and have the email and password changed. Next thing they do is start stealing all of your points and racking a bunch of charges on your account.

    Honestly, there’s nothing wrong with your name. It’s a safety issue for your account and that should have been explained to you.

  72. XanderSan says:

    Judging from Varun’s gamertag it can be offensive if it is an anagram of something that might be offensive to someone.

    So! My gamertag is above, meaning it could technically be read as Randansex. Is that offensive to someone? My brother’s account is a far better anagram of ‘AmenGayBook’, which almost seems like a religious slur, and yet it’s actually arranged in a completely inoffensive way usually. So is that likely to get banned?

    Basically here’s my thoughts; I reckon the majority of Gamertags out there can be rearranged into something you might find offensive. So surely we’re all in the right or we’re all in the wrong. Besides, Gaywood? Man he must’ve got beaten up in highschool, give him a break microsoft!

  73. morganlh85 says:

    Maybe they are trying to keep people from using their full names on the internet, particularly children and teens, for safety reasons.

  74. It’s about time Apple releases a console.

  75. Channing says:

    Seriously, if you get reported by someone you have to change your gamertag. Pretty much end of story. Maybe there’s a Halo clan (or something) that gets their jollies by reporting random people that then get banned.

  76. Genocyde says:

    I’m chiming in here to say that I used the name “Geno” and was also told that this was not “classy”. What the hell is considered acceptable to Harmonix?