Tag Archives: Girls

My New Xbox is Sexist


Alright – you folks haven’t had a good old fashioned Kortney rant in a minute, so here ya go…

Thanks to quite a bit of overtime and a little help from both my mom and Jake’s mom, we were able to get ourselves a shiny new Xbox One the day (night) it came out. It’s perfectly cool with us if you’re in the PlayStation camp, or the Wii camp, or even the PC camp. Heck, if for whatever reason you don’t actually play ANY video games (honestly, think Candy Crush Saga, Farmville, whatever else the new fad may be…), I still think you’re perfectly swell. That’s beside the point, though – the point is that we’ve been Xbox fans since the first generation. Back in 2002 when the original Halo got 8 friends together split-screening on their 4 consoles and 4 TVs set up in 4 different rooms (or 4 different areas of the same room) connected with Ethernet cables in LAN parties – that was Jake and me.

Granted, I was often the cannon fodder for several of our friends, and occasionally you could find my Master Chief standing in a corner, pointing his gun at the ceiling, and spinning around in circles while you heard me cursing and screaming from the next room over that I STILL couldn’t get the first person controls down. But I was new to the genre, I tried, and I had fun. Being a girl didn’t have anything to do with the fact that I wasn’t as good as the guys we played with – I simply didn’t have to same amount of experience playing. I was an absolute beast, however, with games like Ninja Gaiden, Beyond Good and Evil, and Tony Hawk Underground.

Fast forward to 2005, when Jake and I were standing in line at the midnight release awaiting the Xbox 360. People in line were talking to Jake about various video game stuff, and I’d chime in a bit here or there about the games they were looking forward to versus what we were excited for, and no one really acknowledged me as part of the conversation. We even got a snicker of “Man, how did you get your girlfriend to come out here and wait with you for the new Xbox?” We shook it off as nothing – little did they know that I would be the first to play Gun in the wee hours of the morning as we brought our new console home.

Now, with our shiny new Xbox One, it seems it’s a lot more common for girls like me to be playing games. And even for the guys we were hanging out with while we were waiting for the release, it wasn’t that weird of a concept for them that I could keep up with their Zelda and Portal references – or at least they hid it well if it was weird. Heck, there were even a few women there standing in line with us, albeit more than a couple were moms who were likely buying the Xbox as Christmas presents for their teenage boys sleeping soundly at home. But I digress yet again…

The new Xbox One comes standard with a Kinect 2.0, a magical mystery robot that listens to me and sees me at all times. Pretty cool, huh? I say things to it like, “Xbox, on,” and it turns on, or, “Xbox, watch TV,” and it seamlessly switches over to my cable so Doodle can watch a cartoon or we can catch up on some Walking Dead. I can even say, “Xbox, volume down,” and it actually turns the volume down a few notches! Or, at least, that’s the point…

The problem with that is it only listens to me about 25% of the time. Another 10% of the time, it thinks I’ve said a completely different thing: for instance, “Xbox, watch Disney Junior,” has been heard as “Xbox, watch MTV,” or, “Xbox, turn off,” has been heard as, “Xbox, stop,” which would seem like it’s a comparable command, but they’re used very differently. The other 140% or so of the time, it just completely ignores the fact that I’VE GIVEN MY ROBOT A COMMAND AND DESIRE IT TO PERFORM A TASK FOR ME!

They still have to work out some basic kinks, right? I mean, it’s relatively new technology, right? Only, I’ll sit there and say, “Xbox, pause,” over and over and it won’t hear a single word I’ve said, and Jake will chime in, “Xbox, pause,” and it immediately bows to him and does his every command!

So I took to the only source I trust, and I Googled “Xbox One sexist” to see if anyone else is having problems with this darn robot not listening to higher-pitched female voices while fully recognizing deeper-toned male voices – an understandable issue, but a concern nonetheless. What do I find instead? Apparently Microsoft has hurt the feelings of a few people in the world, and everything having to do with the new Xbox and sexism is stemming from a promotion campaign that Xbox put out to boost holiday sales.

This is supposed to be an e-mail template you send to your loved one in attempt to get them to want an Xbox One as well, or at least be comfortable with you bringing one into the house. I guess the green underlined words were meant to be replaced by various other options Microsoft thought you might want to say instead, depending on who you were specifically petitioning to.

APPARENTLY, saying things like, “Hey Honey,” or, “You’d rather knit than watch me slay zombies,” or, “Did I mention how beautiful you are?” imply that the intended receiver of this letter is the anti-fun female counterpart to the football-loving gamer male who wants the new console and is trying to trick the un-fun lady into buying it when they’d never actually play together.

Women, get yourselves!  Men who want to appear inclusive and pro-feminism, get over yourselves!  I don’t care who you are, this is HILARIOUS!  Had we, for whatever reason, not been able to get the new Xbox on opening day, and had Jake sent this to me in a futile attempt to get me to approve of digging ourselves into more debt, I would have LAUGHED MY ASS OFF while I told him, “No, we can’t get it because of this and this reason that we’ve already had reasonable and civil conversations about since we make choices about what we purchase for the household together as a team.”  And honestly, some days I would rather knit than watch him slay zombies, or destroy buildings with tanks as he’s been doing recently, but other days, “Jake, it’s my turn to sail the open seas of the Caribbean!  My pirate fleet needs to be updated so that I can send ships out on new missions, and I’m fairly certain that you’ve progressed further in the story line than I have so don’t you even think about turning on Assassin’s Creed before I get a chance to get ahead of you!”

Are we really so concerned with being politically correct that people got offended enough for Microsoft to actually issue an apology and switch out the options that were clearly meant to be used as “could have been construed as” gender-specific JOKES that people who know, understand, and love (or ARE) true gamers would only laugh at?  And honestly, how am I supposed to Google legitimate questions about whether or not the new Xbox is sexist when everyone is sitting there whining about how not all gamers are guys and how some girls would rather slay zombies than knit?  OBVIOUSLY it was a joke, OBVIOUSLY it was over your head, and OBVIOUSLY you are far too stuck up to see that truly hilarious things are actually funny.

But seriously, anyone else have problems with the Kinect not listening to women?  I know it’s made by guys for guys so they probably didn’t take into account a tiny little girl voice like mine using it to watch Lifetime or use the Fitness app, but I’d really like to be able to communicate effectively with my little robot.  Maybe I should try asking it what kind of sandwich it wants…