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Sony’s Virtual World Has All the Charm of an Orwell Novel

Sony’s bid to build a real life Matrix is hitting some early bad press from gay and lesbian allies on news that the platform filters out any gay and lesbian references as well as mentions of religion or sex, preventing users from committing anything resembling thoughtcrime. The San Francisco Chronicle writes:

“Michael Marsh, an 18-year-old gamer from Norwalk, Conn., wanted to set up a gay/straight alliance club in PlayStation Home, Sony’s new free 3-D virtual world component for the PlayStation 3.

The problem was that the words he was using – “gay,” “lesbian” and “bisexual” – were being filtered from text chats and were not being allowed in the naming of clubs or in postings in club forums. Marsh, who is straight but supports gay rights, said he raised the issue with Home community managers during the private beta test, but the problems persisted after the public beta introduction of Home on Dec. 11.

“I can understand if they’re filtering out profanity, but if feel like it’s discrimination,” Marsh said. “By blocking a word like ‘gay,’ which is a preferred term by the gay community, you’re encouraging it as a bad word.” Other words blocked include “Christ”, “Jew” and “Hello”– presumably because it contains the word “hell”.

Sony reps respond that the virtual world is still in beta and that someday soon, gays and lesbians will actually exist in their virtual universe. For our money, it sounds like the problem with Sony’s virtual world is the same thing all Sony products suffer from: Overprotection and dogmatic hierarchical control. It’s a strategy that Sony clings to despite it single-handedly killing BetaMax, MiniDiscs and Memory Sticks. Homophobic or not, Sony’s virtual world sounds like a dull place to (not actually) be.

On:           Dec 29, 2008
Tagged: ,
    • dubwise

      They have private clubs for gay gamers to congregate in, in the “HOME” space.. This is NOT a big a deal as the paper is making it out to be.

      Dec 29, 2008 at 12:39 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mikey

      @dubwise: So… as long as it’s private and behind closed doors, so nobody can easily find it? Sounds like a big deal to me.

      Dec 29, 2008 at 1:21 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • dubwise

      @Mikey: No, they aren’t hard to find. Anyone can google the names of the rooms, that’s how i found mine. Do you even own a PS3? how do you know how easy they are or arent to find?

      Sony doesn’t let sexual talk of ANY kind in the public spaces…just like most real communities don’t allow sexually explicit material to be advertised and it’s frowned upon to discuss in public conversation. no one is being singled out here. get over it.

      Heck, You can even type in the word “hello” in HOME chat. The chat program automatically blacks out the “hell” part of “Hello” because they are covering their a$$es.

      Dec 29, 2008 at 1:28 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Darth Paul

      Sounds like New Labour to me.

      Dec 29, 2008 at 1:59 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • victor

      dubwise: I agree with you. sigh.. non-gamers. what can you do?

      Dec 29, 2008 at 4:24 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • A

      It’s a failure of their online community if you have to put down the controller and go out of your way to search for the community you want to join. The whole point is you get immersed in the PS3 world and spend more time on the PS3.

      Since when is the mere mention of a GSA sexually explicit? If it were an overzealous school principal we’d be calling them dumb for making that claim.

      And you’re making apologies for them blocking out a super-common phrase like “Hello” ? Step back from the PS3 defenses and realize that this is either a boneheaded decision or really shoddy programming. Either way, it’s dumb and hiding behind the “beta” label only gets you so far.

      Dec 29, 2008 at 5:52 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • dubwise

      @A: i didnt apoligize for the blocking out part of the word Hello…

      again, i was pointing out that they are covering their a$$es to make sure NO ONE is offended…it goes a bit far with the entire Hello business…but i can’t fault them for covering their bottom line by ruling out words that are sexually related in the PUBLIC space where all ages can go.

      I don’t see how they are hiding behind the “beta” label…they’ve released upgrades as they have been needed as you usually do in as Beta situation.

      have YOU been in HOME? Do you own a PS3 or video game?

      Dec 29, 2008 at 6:04 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Gamer7


      Your tone is insulting. If you really think it’s ok to shunt off gays and lesbians to separate “protected” areas of the world because the rest of the gamers can’t handle it, and if you really think that this behavior doesn’t promote *additional* discrimination in the real world, then I’m afraid you’ve spend too much time virtual.

      Using the word gay is not a sexual advance. Being gay is not about being sexual it’s about belonging to a minority that’s being actively persecuted. This is about real world discrimination of a class of citizens by a company hoping to get our hard-earned gay dollars.

      If you’re happy with this, spend your money on their products and keep defending their policies. I’m afraid they’ll have to try harder (read: at all) for money and sympathies.

      Are you actually gay? Have you actually ever left your darkened bedroom? (that’s sarcasm.)

      Dec 29, 2008 at 10:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • dubwise

      @Gamer7: yep…actually gay. as for the amount of time i’ve spent in the online HOME community…i think i’ve spent a total 30 minutes in HOME…there isn’t much to do…they have yet to expand it a lot before it’ll be worth anytime…i spend maybe a total of 1-2 hours gaming a week. so, im no basement dweller.

      Gays arent shunted of into a gay online ghetto…NO ONE STR8 or GAY can talk about sexual terms…big freakin deal…

      they turned off the voice chat feature because of all the homophobic and racist statements coming from a bunch of tools…but enabled them it in the club houses where you have to be approved to join. like the gaygamer club!

      if you dont like the PS3, don’t buy it…don’t give $ to sony…

      i didnt mean to sound insulting, I do apoligize for that.

      Dec 29, 2008 at 11:51 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • The Gay Numbers

      Should note that there is also a potential (because its “annoymous”) for people to be trolls and want to harass others who are uninterested . I hung out with some friends, and sad to say, I know a guy (he’s gay too) who decided to do just that. I was a bit annoyed because it was kind of stupid to be messing with folks who don’t want to play with you, but then I sort of ignored it until I just read this.

      Dec 30, 2008 at 2:26 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • mark

      Don’t go where we aren’t welcomed. It’s THEIR loss.
      When advertisers look for marketing new sexy products, they seek us out, because we are valued consumers who by word of mouth reach others, they don’t know how to reach, Sony will lose out to competitors who value us.

      Dec 30, 2008 at 3:39 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Darth Paul

      @dubwise: Apologies are for chumps.

      Dec 30, 2008 at 10:08 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • dubwise

      @Darth Paul: is that why your mom is always apologizing for you?!

      Dec 30, 2008 at 10:12 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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