Microsoft is drawing a line between trash talk and harassment.Photo Getty

  • Microsoft's Xbox Live service enables tens of millions of people around the world to play games online with each other.
  • Just like every online community with any form of communication, Xbox Live requires heavy moderation due to people being jerks to each other.
  • Microsoft updated its Xbox Live policies this week with a set of guidelines intended to police its community, and it included a handful of hilariously silly "trash talk" suggestions.
  • For more stories, go to Business Insider SA.

What would you do if, while playing a game online with strangers, one of them said to you, "Get destroyed. Can't believe you thought you were on my level."?

How about this: "That was some serious potato aim. Get wrecked."

According to Microsoft's hilarious new set of guidelines for people playing games on its Xbox Live gaming service, both are acceptable lines of "trash talk" that aren't worthy of a ban.

You can probably already see why these are considered acceptable - they're relatively silly and benign. But more than that, they offer a pretty clear example of relatively inoffensive, competitive speech.

Here's how Microsoft explains its new guidelines:

"We get it - gaming can be competitive and interactions with other players can get heated. A little trash talk is an expected part of competitive multiplayer action, and that's not a bad thing. But hate has no place here, and what's not okay is when that trash talk turns into harassment."

That's the line Microsoft is drawing between trash talk and harassment - a reasonable line to draw on a service where voice chat with strangers often devolves into a racist/sexist/homophobic slur-laden hellscape.

Microsoft's guidelines get even more specific, with a handful of examples clearly identifying the often obvious difference between trash talk and harassment.


What's harassment? Here are some examples from Microsoft:

  • "Get (sexual threat). Can't believe you thought you were on my level.
  • Hey (profanity), that was some serious potato aim. Get wrecked, trash.
  • Only reason you went positive was you spent all game camping. KYS, kid.
  • Cheap win. Totally expected from a (racial slur).
  • You suck. Get out of my country-maybe they'll let you back in when your k/d's over 1."


Microsoft then hilariously juxtaposes those obviously offensive statements with the near-identical equivalent in trash talk:

  • "Get destroyed. Can't believe you thought you were on my level.
  • That was some serious potato aim. Get wrecked.
  • Only reason you went positive was you spent all game camping. Try again, kid.
  • Cheap win. Come at me when you can actually drive without running cars off the road.
  • That sucked. Get good and then come back when your k/d's over 1."


See the difference? It's often as simple as not including a sexual threat, profane word, racist slur, or inferred racism.

If it sounds simple to you - great! If not, it's worth going a bit deeper on Microsoft's surprisingly frank, down-to-Earth new guidelines.


Receive a single WhatsApp every morning with all our latest news: click here.

Also from Business Insider South Africa: