The ongoing controversy over language filtering on Xbox Live has another curious manifestation - rosters that EA Sports' TeamBuilder auto-names get filtered when they're imported into the Xbox Live version of NCAA 10.
As an example, the above player was auto-named "Jason Gay" at the online TeamBuilder site. But imported into the Xbox 360 version, the player was renamed "Jason XXX." Users may manually change the name back in all modes of play into which created teams are imported, both online and offline.
The filtering, however, does make EA Sports look like it's demonizing the word, a delicate and persistent issue in online gaming. But in fact, EA's code has no problem with it; in the game, play-by-play man Brad Nessler says the name for players who have it.
Asked for comment, Electronic Arts provided this statement:
We are aware of the situation in which some auto-generated player names used online in NCAA Football 10 are being edited, due to Microsoft's Xbox LIVE language filter. EA encourages diversity in our online communities, and providing a safe place for gamers to play is a high priority at EA.
Both sides gave - quite understandably - policy-based answers to what is ultimately an incremental development in this issue. NCAA 10 may not have the kind of user base that gets fired up about this, after all.
But whether or not "gay" is more a self-identifier or a term of abuse, it continues to be someone's last name. Rudy Gay. Tyson Gay. Efforts to proactively micromanage this evolving word's use may, privately, have the intended effect. Publicly, it will continue to create instances such as these, in which some major corporation wittingly or, in EA's case, unwittingly and through no fault of its own, puts its brand on the implication that the word is inherently shameful.
Microsoft says it's still exploring ways to integrate the word with its community and its TOS. But, really. As decisions go, you're gonna make it now, or make it later. Let some churlish gamer's ugly behavior speak for itself, and deal with him tomorrow. But you can take "gay" off the filter list today, and end this as a controversy.