Microsoft has confirmed to Richard that his name is, in fact, offensively sexual and will not be reinstated as his gamertag. (Kotaku posted their rationale, if you care to read it.) We’ve got Mr. Gaywood’s response, inside.
I have swapped several emails with Stephen Toulouse, the Microsoft staffer who seems to be responsible for the press briefings on this (he was the one who gave the followup story to Kotaku). Firstly, he confirmed my enforced change was /not/ because my tag is the same as my name and /was/ because my tag is deemed to be offensive. I’ve sent him the following as an email querying a few more details.
Ah, good. Thank you for clearing that up. I also noticed last night that I cannot enter my last name in the Real Name field of my Xbox profile, although I can put it in the Bio section — does it become less offensive a few inches further down the screen? I tried Heterowood and Homowood too (both were barred) but Straightwood was allowed, oddly. Even the words “Unix” and “Linux” seem to be barred from the Real Name field, which I find rather bizarre. I also note that this was a system generated response, and not the result of a complaint about me.
So, what about the international issues? Wanker is quite a common surname in Germany, and is very rude to British people but (I understand) doesn’t have as strong a connotation to the Americans — I’m pretty sure I’ve heard it on the Simpsons. Would that be allowed? What about swear words in foreign languages, how do you handle that case?
Basically, because of the international issue I think Microsoft haven’t thought this through. I am conducting a bit of investigative journalism along those lines: getting two friends to register a gamertag that is outrageously obscene but in an obscure-ish language, then getting someone else to file a complaint about it. Want to bet the complaint will be ignored? I think MS are adopting a US-centric point of view here and I don’t think that is acceptable for an international service like Live. If you’re going to start censoring words you have to do it in all the languages active on Live.
Ball’s in your court, Microsoft.