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XBox (Games) Games Your Rights Online

Xbox Live Enforcement — No Swastika Logo 473

Posted by Soulskill
from the pursuing-the-rare-double-godwin dept.
itwbennett writes "It's one of those questions that really should never come up, but as blogger Peter Smith points out, Stephen Toulouse, the head of Xbox Live enforcement, is used to fielding all sorts of strange questions. Recently, one of those questions was apparently 'Can I use a Swastika as my logo in Call of Duty: Black Ops?' When Toulouse responded with the obvious answer ('No, of course you can't, we'll ban you.') he was met with some pushback by people he refers to as 'contrarians' and 'internet pundits' who decided to educate him on the long and storied history of the swastika as a symbol of good fortune and how just because the Nazis used it, it doesn't make the symbol itself a bad thing. Toulouse covers the topic on his blog in a post titled Context and it's an interesting read if for no other reason than to get a peek inside the day-to-day issues the Xbox Live Enforcement team deals with."
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Xbox Live Enforcement — No Swastika Logo

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  • by penguinchris (1020961) <penguinchris.gmail@com> on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @04:28AM (#34328752) Homepage

    I bought the game when it came out because I'm unemployed, living in my mother's basement, have nothing else to do, and haven't bought a game in a year or so (besides Civ 5 but that's different).

    I love the fact that you can customize your logo. Other than unlocking better weapons, it would be difficult for me to care less about customizing the appearance of the weapons (which you can do) or your character model (which you can do to a limited extent). But somehow, designing your own little logo really appeals to me.

    I'm obviously not the only one who feels that way, because there are a lot of really intricately designed logos that people have made. I am always sure to look at everyone's logo when we're sitting in the lobby between rounds to look for interesting ones. You see them each time you kill someone or they kill you, too, so you can keep track of players you're playing with by their logo. Of course, there are a lot of typical design styles that you might expect, like skulls and penises and what not. Even with those, though, it's often amazing the creativity that went into them (using the set of graphics available, it's amazing the different ways people have come up with to illustrate ejaculating penises).

    However, for the first several days, there was almost always at least one person with a swastika. Not a hindu or buddhist one - a red, white, and black, rotated 45 degrees, unmistakeably Nazi one. I was in one lobby where no less than three people had them. It's kind of funny actually because, since there's no pre-set swastika symbol, they had to be just as creative when designing their swastika as other people are designing other things.

    Now personally, I believe fully in the freedom of expression, and all that. I am not offended by swastikas, even Nazi ones, by themselves. It depends entirely on the context. Here, it's mostly teenage boys donning them. They're ignorant of history and what the Nazi swastika represents, and the crap that spews out of their mouths if they have a microphone only confirms their ignorance. It really does become offensive. And, I don't need my parents (or anyone else) seeing me interacting with a bunch of idiots with swastika logos - the type of person you'd avoid at all costs in any other context, but who are difficult to avoid on xbox live (or playstation online in my case).

    I believe they must be doing something about it on the PS3 too, because for the past few days I can't recall seeing any swastikas, and I've been playing quite a bit. From a purely business standpoint, it definitely makes sense to ban things like swastikas. To their credit, that's probably the only thing they're going to care about. There certainly hasn't been a decline in the number of ejaculating penis logos.

  • Isn't it interesting (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Chrisq (894406) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @04:41AM (#34328830)
    Isn't it interesting that Slashdot edits out svastik characters. There is a line of them below
  • by EponymousCustard (1442693) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @04:45AM (#34328854)
    None of the articles seem to mention that the swastika is banned in Germany. As a result, model aircraft manufacturers (Airfix, Revell, etc) don't include swastikas in their decal sheet so they can sell to the international market.
  • by Chrisq (894406) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @04:51AM (#34328896)
    This is the famous picture [wordpress.com] of Jackie Bouvier (later Jackie Kennedy/Onassis) wearing a Native American costume as a child, complete with swastika. The Swastika is a sacred symbol [western-hindu.org] to many cultures.
  • by DavoMan (759653) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @04:52AM (#34328902)
    its a game where people are shooting each other in the face. if someone is going around shooting people in the face and then sees a swastika on their back, and thinks 'that is SO wrong!' then I think they have their head in their ass.

    somebody has to be the bad guy. its a war game. hell, what about wolfenstein enemy territory? its always axis versus allies.

    the only person to cause any kind of conflict is the admin who is being pedantic about a logo on the player model of someone who is there to be shot at. shouldn't it be encouraged? lots of people would want to shoot nazis.

    pathetic.
  • by somersault (912633) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @05:20AM (#34329048) Homepage Journal

    ? Cross shapes in and of themselves are pretty cool despite being used as the symbol of Christianity, and the swastika shape itself is cool, despite being used by the Nazis. If people can think shuriken make cool symbols, why do you find it so hard to believe that they might like a swastika simply for the shape?

  • by ArsenneLupin (766289) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @05:21AM (#34329060)

    if a group called themselves the "Jew gassers"

    In Luxembourg, there is a small village which has a road called "Judde Gas" (Jew Gas). Of course, in Luxembourgish, "Gas" also means "small road", but after WWII, it's still a bizarre name. Strangely enough, the name hasn't been changed...

  • by somersault (912633) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @06:19AM (#34329378) Homepage Journal

    Whilst this perception exists use of this image shall be in bad taste; if you want change - then change the perception of the image.

    To be honest I'm not one of the people that would want the image plastered on my character in a computer game, but I think by even having this conversation I'm trying to change the perception of the image.

    It is possible that racist groups will keep using the Swastika for some time to come and things won't go back to "normal" in Western society, and that would be a shame. If some terrorist organisation started using the Coca Cola ribbon, would that make coke evil*?

    * nevermind the fact that I already wouldn't touch it with a barge pole because of all the crap they put in it - most people still like it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @06:35AM (#34329454)

    Hmm... it seems that the 'enlightened, educated folks' that fear the symbol have little enlightenment and less education.

    The US Army's 45th Infantry Division used the 'swastika' as the Divisional emblem for a good 20+ years. It was changed in the 30's as National Socialism rose in Germany.

    Also, 'NAZI' is a political party, not a Military Organization. The Wehrmacht is the German Army.

    How does X-Box Live reconcile the fact that the Russian Communist Party killed many, many more of its own people than the NAZIs did, yet the hammer ad sickle are not banned?

    I am not offended by the Swastika... but I am conscious of the fact that the NAZI party did some horrible things. There is a difference.

  • by guyminuslife (1349809) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @06:40AM (#34329476)

    Well said, but the issue really is context. If this game were being marketed primarily in Asia, it wouldn't be a big deal. It's not. It doesn't seem appropriate for a Westerner to scream, "Oh my God, Nazis!" if they see it used in Brahmin texts. It doesn't seem appropriate for an Easterner (or immigrant) to take umbrage that the swastika has a very specific and very odious meaning in the West.

    Mind you, I would love to see the symbol reclaimed and enjoy the status in the Western world that it has in the East (and even, formerly and to a lesser extent, in the West). There are many avenues and platforms that one might use to that effect. It should be evident that XBLA is not that platform.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @07:52AM (#34329960)

    The British Raj famines [lavidalocavore.org] alone killed more than the nazi holocaust (20-29 million). I'm not looking up the rest, if you're this ignorant of history, you need to do some serious reading.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Famine_in_India

    You are correct in your numbers but I personally don't think those two things are directly comprable.

    It is relatively common in India to claim that the famines were the goal of the British all along, though history reveals that this is not true. The British policies (between trade and taxation mostly) made *worse* issues that were already underlying (existing famines, uneven rainfall, rice fungus etc.) in much of the country. The famines were much worse under the British than India had ever had before, and this is because the British trade policies caused entirely new problems that India didn't have before in combination with the already existing issues of variable rainfall and food supplies. The British government did actually attempt to alleviate the issues of famine in numerous ways over the years while still maintaining profitability - and that was really the problem.

    I'm not defending what the British did. It was absolutely and completely wrong. But I think if you read the history of the events in depth you will realise that it is no way comparable to the Nazi holocaust. The Nazi's had a 100% intention of massacring those people. In the famines, people were killed as a combination of ignorance, greed and just-not-caring-enough. To me, that is entirely different to loading people into gas chambers and shooting them in their beds. When judging the ethics of others, I tend to think the intention behind the action is an important issue. The famines showed money was more important to the British Government than human life. The end goal for the British was money - the end goal for the Nazi's was the extermination of entire races. I think the distinction is pretty important here.

    Of course the British did massacre a lot of Indian people in a much more direct fashion at numerous points in history. Again this was absolutely wrong and comprable to the Holocaust - but I am only comparing the famines here as the parent brought it up with a seemingly loaded statement.

    Personally I'm rather glad we lost/ditched the vast majority of the British empire. While all nations in history have been forged in the fires of blood and violence, as a Brit, I am ashamed of some of the horrors the British managed to inflict upon the world while expanding its once massive influence. What's more interesting is that hardly anybody here in the UK even seems to be aware of it. Any thoughts from abroad?

  • by MacGyver2210 (1053110) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @08:41AM (#34330294)

    Actually, there is a lot that is cool about the (original, actual) Swastika symbol.

    There is a relevant point people are missing: the Nazi Swastika is not an actual, official Swastika. It is a bastardized perturbation of an ancient eastern religious symbol. The original has the 'tines' of the symbol pointing to the left (clockwise spiral) and is axis-aligned when displayed. It often comes with a paired 'mirror image' version which spirals in the opposite direction, but is also axis-aligned (not tilted).

    The Nazi symbol is different. It is a single symbol, tilted 45degrees off-axis to make a sort of diamond shape, and uses the counter-clockwise spiral exclusively. It is also relevant to note the colors and context of the symbol in its surroundings to determine which it is being used as. In countries from China to India to Thailand to Japan, that symbol is all over the place. Wherever you see certain temples, they will denote it with a simple swastika. It's commonplace.

    It is unfortunate that the Nazis chose to pollute such a peaceful and historical symbol. The swastika is NOT an 'evil' symbol, and it has a long and interesting history. It is - in fact - quite 'cool'.

    Believe it or not? I'm going to choose 'not'.

    There are billions of people in the Indo-Asia area which believe strongly that this is a valid, and respected religious symbol. To me, that does not equal his belief being 'normal and commonly held'. Maybe among ignorant fools.

    Because this guy is uneducated on this fact, and seems to think all swastika symbols are Nazi-related regardless of how they are shown, he is imposing his personal opinion on everyone using this service and device under the guise of 'moderation' and his own misguided belief about history instead of fact.

    Tack on the fact that seeing and knowing about the symbols doesn't necessarily mean you are PROMOTING the ideas of those that previously used the symbol, and this guy is - in fact - removing a source of exposure and education of history from their service by doing this.

  • by dasunt (249686) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @09:13AM (#34330562)

    When I did my puja this morning, Ganesha is adorned with a swastika on his palm. Next time will probably be when I do my evening puja.

    Better than me.

    I keep thinking "ramens". The brand of instant noodle I keep at work for a quick meal if I'm working late has a swastika on the package. This discussion is making me hungry. ;)

  • by Thing 1 (178996) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @09:21AM (#34330642) Journal
    Yeah I tagged it "trident" because why not ban that symbol of eternal evil as well?
  • by guyminuslife (1349809) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @11:03AM (#34332472)

    Well, she was a 98-pound white-trash kind of girl, but my friend palmed his dreidel just in case there were more where she came from. As it turned out, there was a whole group of them in that apartment complex. That was about 4 years ago.

    The Reich is gone forever, but the symbolism and significance lives on.

  • by guyminuslife (1349809) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @12:23PM (#34333876)

    Oh, sure, none of those guys were in the Luftwaffe. The modern KKK doesn't go around burning crosses in people's front yards any more, near as I can tell. I haven't heard of anyone getting lynched in years.

    Here's some counter-advice: Spend a day walking around in full Klansman gear (the distinction seems rather blurred in American culture) and explaining to everyone how dated their sentiments are, how the Klan stopped its reign of terror years ago, what is your problem, people? (Please take a camera with you if you do this...I would pay good money to see the looks on their faces.) You can drag on all you want about how the Nazis are dead and who cares any more, but if the ideas and symbolism have outlived their progenitors, then clearly, it's very much alive.

    (Did I just invent a new kind of Godwin? Like, if the conversation is already about Nazis, who do you compare them to in a broad analogy?)

  • by Zarel (900479) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @06:19PM (#34337914)

    Yes, I agree with everything you said, and with your original post as well. I just wanted to reply because you asked "When's the last time you saw a swastika?" and the last time I had seen a swastika, it had nothing to do with Nazi Germany.

    And also because I, too, would love to see the swastika reclaimed to its original meaning of good fortune in the West, and educating users on Slashdot is certainly a valid avenue. :D

An inclined plane is a slope up. -- Willard Espy, "An Almanac of Words at Play"

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