Microsoft lays down the law for 'trash talk' on Xbox

gears of War 5
Gears of War 5 (Image Credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Possibly the worst thing about gaming online is the verbal abuse. Both kids and adults alike find a newfound freedom when blasting shotgun shells into complete strangers, and it's easy for tensions to run high in competitive environments.

But no longer. Microsoft has updated its code of conduct for online play through Xbox Live, containing some brilliant suggestions of inoffensive trash talk, with such zingers as "get destroyed", "can't believe you thought you were on my level", and – our personal favorite – "that was some serious potato aim".

While it's easy to poke fun, it's also dangerous to gloss over the toxic environment that can emerge during online play – and it's reassuring for a console maker to be so explicit over what isn't acceptable. Other guidelines on "Going too far" call out sexual threats, profanity, and racial slurs (as they naturally should).

You can see the full list of suggestions in the image below.

Image Credit: Microsoft

Image Credit: Microsoft

Playing it safe

Children and adults alike are spending more and more time onscreen, and figuring out how to detoxify these digital spaces is becoming increasing crucial for players wanting to actually enjoy their time gaming.

Some high-profile games like Apex Legends have worked around the problem by removing the need for verbal communication altogether: the game's simple 'ping' system allows players to send coordinates or calls for help to their teammates without needing voice chat, and also helps with possible language or comprehension barriers players might have.

There are also a host of Xbox parental controls that allow you to turn off voice chat or messages from players you haven't befriended. Why struggle with a problem when you can just remove it entirely?

Henry St Leger

Henry is a freelance technology journalist, and former News & Features Editor for TechRadar, where he specialized in home entertainment gadgets such as TVs, projectors, soundbars, and smart speakers. Other bylines include Edge, T3, iMore, GamesRadar, NBC News, Healthline, and The Times.