Inclusivity and accessibility in gaming is something that is often brought up and can be quite an important factor for many gamers. Last year, Microsoft introduced the Xbox Adaptive Controller that was specifically designed for people with disabilities. Today, Phil Spencer, Executive Vice President of Gaming at Microsoft, committed to making gaming safe and inclusive for everyone. Boldly terming video games a "unifying force for the world", he went on to announce steps that would help solidify this stance.
To start off, Spencer reiterated the "fundamental truths" he believes hold in the gaming world. Firstly, that gaming is for everyone and is not limited to age, gender, and the like. Secondly, that a gaming environment must be completely safe and protect the whole community - which is the responsibility of both the gamers, and the gaming industry.
He then went on to discuss various benefits brought through the gaming world, whether it might be in the accessibility department, or helping people improve their skills in general. However, he did concede that digital life in today's world brings with it increased toxicity that is unavoidable.
In order to work toward a "safe and inclusive gaming environment for everyone", the Xbox Gaming Head has announced full commitment from Microsoft, Team Xbox, and his own end. Three principles have been outlined as part of this commitment:
- Being vigilant, proactive, and swift
- Empowering you to safeguard your gaming experience the way you want
- Committing to working across the gaming industry on safety measures
To increase the potential for quick identification and removal of abusive elements on Xbox, Microsoft will be looking to expand the composition of the Xbox Safety Team. The recently refreshed Xbox Community Standards have been specifically noted, while continued rollouts of new health-related programs for the gaming community have been promised.
Moving on, upcoming proactive content moderation features for Club community managers to help with the formation of "safe spaces" for gamers have been announced. These new features will be available to everyone by the end of the year. Similarly, it will also soon become easier for parents and guardians to create Child or Teen accounts. With the recent workshops rolled out by Microsoft to help parents better understand tools like these, and now the upcoming changes, the company believes that gamers will have much more control of their own experiences.
The tech giant has also committed to open sharing of all safety innovations with the gaming industry. Multiple teams are said to already be working across the industry to reveal insights regarding the best practices that can be adopted where safety, security, and privacy are concerned. At the end, Spencer has urged gamers and industry partners to help implement the aforementioned principles in order to play their part in making gaming more accessible and inclusive.