Accessible, approachable, welcoming, safe and inclusive.
As it brings Xbox content to more devices, Head of Xbox Phil Spencer says Microsoft is “committed to providing a safe and welcoming community for everyone.” Microsoft touts being “intentionally inclusive” as business critical, which includes being accessible, approachable, welcoming, safe and inclusive.
“For the estimated 400 million gamers with disabilities, we strive to unlock the joy and community that gaming offers,” explains Xbox VP of Product Services, Dave McCarthy. “Unlocking barriers requires us to adopt a philosophy of inclusive design, where we draw inspiration from people who are often overlooked in the design process. Innovations like the Xbox Adaptive Controller were co-designed with the disability community, and have enabled more players with limited mobility to play, and in turn, inspired industry-wide progress.”
The new Xbox Accessibility Guidelines have been designed to help developers make their games more accessible to players with different disabilities.
Welcoming and safe
Xbox also wants to create a community that is welcoming and feels safe for all players.
“Toxicity has a material impact on engagement, and we know that it disproportionately impacts our most vulnerable player segments,” said McCarthy. “It isn’t enough to address toxic interactions as they arise through human moderation. We have to deploy technology that can proactively filter out detrimental content before a player even encounters it.”
As part of this strategy, Microsoft confirmed that it would soon offer image filters that are similar to text filtering already in place on the Xbox Network.
“Our commitment to making Xbox approachable means intentionally building more ways for our players to feel welcome and easily discover locally relevant content that is as diverse as the millions of players who join Xbox every month,” McCarthy continued.
Inclusive in narrative and development
Xbox also wants to ensure it is inclusive by including underrepresented players, both within games and as part of the development process.
“We know that involving underrepresented communities in our creative process makes our games more approachable,” explained Senior Manager – Xbox Research, Melissa Boone.
“Our research and design approach for the game Tell Me Why included a partnership with GLADD to help us identify potential areas of concern…We also included members of the trans community in every single one of our user research tests, from narrative usability, to the final playtest, to ensure that the game respectfully and authentically portrayed a transgender protect.
“Including community members who might not otherwise be heard in our design process with our creators is fundamental to our ability to tell narratives that reflect the richness and diversity within the Xbox community.”
Microsoft is currently the midst of Pride celebrations, which include the telling of LGBTQIA+ stories from staff alongside in- and out-of game goodies.
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