Halo 4 executive producer Kiki Wolfkill and 343 Industries head Bonnie Ross have denounced sexist behavior on Xbox Live, revealing that Microsoft does its best to monitor and ban players who abuse others over the network.
Speaking to GameSpot, Ross and Wolfkill said there is zero tolerance for Xbox Live players who are found to be making sexist or discriminatory comments against others, with a lifetime ban from the network as penalty.
"I've seen many of the sites that have documented some of the more gender-specific slanderous comments," Ross said.
"This is behaviour that is offensive and completely unacceptable. I'd like to think most of our Xbox Live players don't support this kind of behaviour."
"It can be dangerous to give adolescents a broadcast mechanism," Wolfkill added. "There are always going to be jerks out there, and if you give them a way to express that side of their personality without being seen, you're going to see this type of behaviour manifest itself."
Ross and Wolfkill said that developers have a responsibility to stamp out this behaviour by putting more thought into how their games will be perceived.
"As developers, we have a personal responsibility to think about how our games come across," Ross said. "With Halo 4, we were very deliberate in thinking about who should be female and who should be male in the game, and if we came off stereotypical, we went back to question what we were doing and why."
Wolfkill agreed, saying that while games can often reflect the culture of the studio that's building them, the success or failure of games can also reflect consumer responsibility. Part of this responsibility includes changing perspectives about the games industry as an exclusively male-dominated area.
"Most people look at a franchise like Halo, and automatically assume it's run by a guy," Ross said. "People are surprised to learn that it's a woman who's running the Halo 4 show. When Microsoft created 343 Industries to take over Halo, I was given first choice to run the studio because I had proven myself. My gender played no part in it."
Halo 4 is due exclusively for Xbox 360 on November 6 worldwide. The game is a direct sequel to 2007's Halo 3, and is the first numbered entry in the series developed outside of Bungie Studios. It is the first instalment in the Reclaimer Trilogy, which will span Halo 5 and Halo 6.