Lots of words.

Aug 12th

On July 26th, I was playing Black Ops 2 on my Xbox 360. Another player in the lobby took issue with me being there, and basically started attacking me over my gender. He kept asking if I was on my period, implying that I was fat or a lesbian, and making jokes like “Hey, ya’ll know why uh, women shouldn’t have drivers licenses? Cuz there’s no highway between the bedroom and the kitchen.” It’s all documented in this entry.

After the match concluded, he sent me a text message that said “slizzy” (which is, apparently, slang for “slut”). I replied, “Keep digging yourself into a hole dude.” He then proceeded to send me a voice message that said, “I’m gonna impregnate you with triplets and make you have a very late term abortion. Strict mental abuse. Hahaha.”

You can find a recording of the voice message here.

I filed a complaint against the player using Xbox LIVE’s in-system setup. I believe I also reported him through Treyarch’s report system as well.

I let it go, because I thought they had to act on something this gross and creepy. I check Call of Duty’s ELITE website about a week later, and saw that the player in question was still active on the game. I tweeted at Xbox and Xbox Support, sending them the link to the video and saying again that I was upset about it. They just restated that I should file a complaint.

Fast forward to today, I check ELITE again and see that the offending player was still active in game as of Saturday, August 10th. I tweeted at Xbox again, because I was shocked that seemingly nothing had happened two weeks after I received the message. They essentially replied that they couldn’t give specific details on any case, and that was that.

I tried contact Activision (parent company of Treyarch, the makers of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2) to see if there was anything they could do on their end. One of their agents I contacted through text chat support seemed honestly appalled, and even went so far as to recommend that I contact the police.

I called Activision customer support as well, and they said that they can only handle in-game harassment (which there was), but it can sometimes take them a few weeks because of the volume of reports they field.

I guess I am just super frustrated by Xbox LIVE’s seeming lack of attention to this. For all I know, the guy is being banned this very instant, but from everything I’ve seen, action hasn’t been taken yet. All I want to know is that this kind of thing is taken seriously. I love gaming, but this sort of incident and seeming lack of response or concern about issues like this is really starting to wear on me. I do understand that they’re fielding a large amount of reports and complaints, but I wish serious issues like this were addressed in a much more timely fashion. At this point, the best I can hope for is maybe getting a notification that action has been taken on a complaint I filed.

Ideally, Xbox will work even harder at moderating their player base and insure that gaming is a safe and fun experience for everyone involved. I know things will never be perfect, but they can certainly be better.

Edit: This is starting to get some attention, which is great. You can follow me on Twiter- @Nitka_Official and Facebook to keep updated on this situation as it unfolds. Thank you all for the support.

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UPDATE 5pm CST 8/13/13:

This kind of blew up today. Through the actions of a lot of really awesome people on Twitter, noise was made, and people started paying attention. There was a story done on The Mary Sue, and the Xbox twitter people were likely made very miserable. #MicrosoftUnsupport was officially a thing.

Some of the notable things that happened along the way: Xbox Support said I should contact law enforcement “if necessary”, and after that point couldn’t really tell me where else I could go for information from Xbox LIVE. It turns out that the Xbox Support on Twitter is only able to give tech help… But if the only option you have for reporting users is to press buttons on the console, isn’t that a tech issue?

HOWEVER… There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Looking at the offending user’s profile now, everything has now been marked CODE OF CONDUCT. I unfortunately don’t have a screenshot of his profile beforehand, but I remember that there was nothing offensive about the content, which leads me to believe that he has either been suspended or banned.

And all it took was 24 hours of shouting so loudly no one could ignore me.

Thanks for the support throughout this ordeal, everyone- it’s been real.

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UPDATE 1pm CST 8/14/13

Some people are wondering if this is an isolated incident that slid under Xbox’s radar somehow. Given that I received this message in early 2012, and the user was still active as of April 2013, I don’t think that’s the case. This seems to be a general problem.

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UPDATE 5:45pm CST 8/14/13

Penny Arcade posted about my story. Additionally, I have just received an email from “Xbox Customer Support” saying they want to contact me regarding the recent issues I have been experiencing with an Xbox LIVE player. They’re asking for my phone number, and claiming that they do not seem to have a number on file for me. I know I have my current number connected to my Microsoft account, which in turn should be linked to my Xbox account, so I am not inclined to believe this is real until I get more reassurance.

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UPDATE 7:13pm CST 8/14/13

@XboxSupport is looking into whether the email that was sent to me by a supposed “Xbox Customer Support” agent is legitimate or not.

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UPDATE 7:27pm CST 8/14/13

@XboxSupport says it’s the real deal.

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UPDATE 10:41am CST 8/15/13

Story just hit Kotaku. To everyone new to the site, welcome, and you can follow me on Twiter- @Nitka_Official and Facebook to keep updated on this situation as it unfolds.  I can be reached through my email as well: jennyhaniver@notinthekitchenanymore.com

Thank you all for the support, and even the foul comments I’m starting to see… As they further prove my point that there is a serious issue with the way some people view women in the gaming community.

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UPDATE 11:18am CST 8/15/13

Xbox customer support has responded to me; I now have a direct phone number, and I will be contacting them tonight at 6pm CST to discuss the events of the past week.

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UPDATE 6:15-7:41pm CST 8/15/13

I just got off the phone with a customer service representative from Xbox LIVE. The topics we covered over the course of our phone call included the initial incident that set this off (the rape threat I received), and the response by Xbox Support on Twitter to my inquiries. I told I felt that the Xbox LIVE file complaint system was not effective enough and needed to have more options, and she said that that making the system less broad and with more options was something they were working on currently. She stated, “That is something we realize needs to be in place in order to be able to categorize these complaints in a better way.”

I also explained that I wish you would be notified if action were taken on a complaint you filed. She responded, “We do have a system in place where we will notify sometimes, feedback stating that an enforcement action has been taken on your complaint. The problem is is that when it comes to notifying every single person, there are privacy concerns and also concerns with retribution being taken if people are realizing that it’s specific complaints against a specific user, action has been taken. So we want to find a way to find a middle ground, where our customers can feel that they’re safe, and that when they make a complaint that we’re acting on it, while at the same time respecting the privacy of everybody on the service and not creating a culture where people are going to want to go ahead and file complaints for retribution or just against people they don’t like, or things like that. It’s hard to find that middle ground.”

She went on to tell me that my story was really helpful to them, “because it helps [us] mold a system that’s going to work really well”.

I was also informed that when I contacted @XboxSupport, they passed it on to the enforcement team (although I don’t know which contact was being referenced). She said, “Enforcement action was taken at that point. I can’t give you specifically the kind of enforcement action that was taken, but I can let you know that an enforcement team did act at that point. That’s not always going to be visible for you, it just kind of depends on what they did, and what kind of enforcement action they set in place.”

She said as well that she understood my initial concerns that action was not being taken, and my complaints were not being heard.

Regarding the Twitter team’s basic lack of any meaningful response, she commented: “I understand their policy as far as communicating too much, but at the same time, I completely agree with you in that it should have been very apparent from the beginning that rape threats are not something we tolerate. We want the service to be safe for everyone, and enjoyable for everyone. Now obviously there are always going to be people online and on the internet that are out there to cause trouble, but we want to be creating a culture where you’re able to report those people and feel like you’re going to be safe going forward.”

She continued, “I do want to apologize that, in this instance, you weren’t reassured of that. And you weren’t provided that confidence from us. Because even though we did take enforcement action, it doesn’t sound like we gave you that assurance. And so that’s only half of the job done, if we’re not reassuring you and making you feel safe going on to the service and playing. So I definitely do want to apologize for that, and let you know that we are receiving your feedback and that we are making changes going forward and trying to find ways to make sure that customers feel safe and see how we can reassure the person that’s putting forth the complaint, while like I said respect the privacy of everybody else.”

She emphasized that “…It’s pretty great to just be able to hear your story” and went on to say “it’s something that we need to hear, you know, I’m sure lots of customers go through situations and they never reach out and they never tell us, and if we’re not hearing it and we’re not receiving that information, then we can’t really improve.”

They’re leaving the line of communication open for the next few days, in case I have any additional questions. I’m happy that I finally was able to speak to an actual human being who could address my concerns. I’m just disheartened that it took this much time and effort, which frankly, it shouldn’t have.

There is so much room for improvement and change in the system. It sounds like Xbox is working towards that in the future, and I sincerely hope that is true, although I am very burned out on this whole thing at the moment. I want to remain optimistic, but after the fiasco that took place these last few days, it’s a little difficult.

If you have any questions you felt I should have asked the support agent, please let me know, as I will have the opportunity to contact her again.