In Defense of — and a Salute to — The ProS

Two jackasses baiting an Xbox Live moderator and getting banned isn't worth much outrage. But when they doctor a video and expect everyone to believe it on the knee-jerk faith that mods are fascists, that just insults your intelligence.

Each week on Kotaku Talk Radio I write and record a rant/editorial titled "Something Negative." This week's was about The Pro, and if you're not familiar with what I'm talking about, read up on Luke's coverage and update, it'll bring you up to speed.

So, below is reprinted the text of my editorial for those who may not have heard it during this morning's broadcast. But you can also download the podcast (25.9 MB mp3) and hear it for yourself. It's at the 40:00 mark, on the dot.

Something Negative, Feb. 24, 2009

Over the weekend we got a taste of the worst Xbox Live has to offer. None of it was Microsoft's fault, although the cretins involved did their damndest to make it seem that way. But it blew up in their face from the get go.

In this incident, a heavily edited video was released to YouTube pretending to show an Xbox Live moderator, Gamertag "The Pro," on a power trip with some innocent Modern Warfare 2 players. The audio was edited in attempt to make it appear that The Pro was banning people left and right for minor offenses or for asking harmless questions.

In fact, the kids behind this were too stupid to cover their tracks, as their Gamertags were linked to several other videos showing them using illegal mods in Modern Warfare 2, and engaging in other behavior that most assuredly deserves a two-week time out. At least.

Shortly after this video went out and fooled no one, uncut audio of another encounter was discovered and in it, we can hear what set off The Pro. It's some teenager activating an illegal mod, and then gratuitously provoking The Pro by boasting of having violent sex with his grandmother. That's like saying the magic word to a major league umpire, and The Pro gave him the heave ho.

I'm not a law-and-order authoritarian. Neither are most folks on this service. That doesn't mean we give the benefit of the doubt to someone just because they accuse a giant corporation of fascist behavior, and vent their tinhorn indignation, like skateboarders lecturing mall security on Constitutional law. That's because of two things. One is the preponderance of unpunished douchebag behavior on Xbox Live, especially on certain games, many of them shooters. If we're prejudging a class of people as abusive, unfair and arrogant, honestly, you're more likely describing a gamer than a moderator.

The second, and most important, is because we're paying $50 a year for the service. Reasonable people don't pay that money thinking it entitles them to do anything they please online. We pay it because we expect some portion will be spent on moderation of trolls, cheaters and others who think our paid Xbox Live experience is their personal canvas upon which they can paint a giant middle finger to the world.

Xbox Live enforcement chief Stephen Toulouse stood by his moderator, but did take issue with his tone of voice. Personally I found him entirely in the right, and I'm grateful to The Pro for taking it like one and then acting. By banning these twits, he salvaged some positive out of a situation that was truly Something Negative. I'm Owen Good.