Sure, it's a given that a big conglomerate like Microsoft can giveth and taketh away. But the part that rankles is when the lockout of an XBLA account happens with no explanation, especially when it appears that there's been no wrongdoing on the part of a particular user.
Take this one 13-year-old, for example. As reported by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the teenager woke up one morning a month ago to find himself blocked from using Xbox Live. Leeson's mom filed a complaint with the state attorney general's office, as well as the Federal Trade Commission and Better Business Bureau. The piece quotes her in the following:
"Microsoft has robbed my child of a voice and denied him the right to assert his innocence," Lorraine Leeson wrote in a recent complaint to the Minnesota attorney general's office. "We have offered to send Microsoft our console, all games, controllers for verification, which Microsoft flat out refused, saying, and I quote, 'It isn't worth it.' Worth it to whom? To Microsoft? A 13-year-old boy begs to differ."
Despite the lack of a response, the 13-year-old's Xbox Live account was suddenly reinstated. The article talks to other area kids and parents who've wound up on the wrong side of Microsoft's inscrutable enforcement and the common thread is the confusion at just how the policing is managed. Look, to give the Microsoft's Xbox contingent benefit, most gamers active in the online space know how crude and venal even the youngest of players can be. And who knows how much the customer service experience varies from incident to incident? But, when underage users are involved, the issue of transparency takes on even more importance. If Little Johnny's being a pottymouth on XBL or if the ban's the result of a co-ordinated griefing effort by other users, an argument can be made that a parent should know so that they can deal with the situation appropriately. As great as it may be to wake up and find that a ban's been lifted, it might be better to know why it happened in the first place.
(Top photo credit | Richard Sennott, Star Tribune)
Whistleblower: Xbox 'glitch' sparks uproar in Minnesota [Minneapolis Star-Tribune]