Tuesday Microsoft exposed its dedicated Policy and Enforcement team for Xbox Live who typically reside behind a black curtain and a sign that reads: "Please do not disturb. Sensitive material behind curtain." As seen on the right, there are the individuals who patrol the network daily for hackers, cheaters, phishers, account thieves, game code modifiers and foul-mouthed gamers.
“If you’re playing a game on Xbox LIVE, and somebody snipes you from across the map and you drop the F-bomb, we’re not going to ban you – not for the occasional slip," says Boris Erickson, Xbox LIVE Enforcement Unicorn Ninja. "We focus on the really bad stuff."
Erickson looks intimidating as it is, sporting a short Mohawk and tattoos covering every inch of his arms. He didn't explain why his job title was described as Unicorn Ninja, but he reassured gamers that the team has no plans to trample free speech.
"We are not here to be the arbiters of all speech," he adds. "But there are certainly some kinds of communication on Xbox LIVE that crosses a line – racism, homophobia, sexism, offensive comments about nationalities, and more."
According to Microsoft, the team receives stacks of complaints day in and day out covering reports of offensive behavior, speech, and materials. Some cases simply require the user to remove a word from their profile. Extreme cases means that the team has to ban users from the network altogether. "Or, as we like to say, inviting them to not be our customer," Erickson says. "These are paid subscriptions we’re taking away, so we want to make sure we’re doing exactly the right thing."
So how does the team keep track of all the complaints and evil-doers trolling the network? By using a Microsoft-developed program called Vulcan. “It was designed on cocktail napkins, then coded and designed to allow people who do complaint investigations to do so in an efficient and accurate way,” Erickson says. The team is actually using a new-and-improved version of the original Vulcan program that reportedly makes sorting through complaints even faster than before.
But outside sifting through complaints, the team is also out in the field monitoring gamers in real time, acting like covert secret agents reporting back to headquarters. "The enforcement agents also play games," Erickson says. "Part of what we pay them for is to be out there in the community, listening for threats, looking for vulnerabilities, and reporting back to us."
To read Microsoft’s full disclosure, head here.