Microsoft is making changes to its Xbox Live Code of Conduct to expand the kinds of Gamertags it allows -- which means users can now have tags that indicate their sexual orientation, religion or race.
The change will come in particular as welcome news to a community of gay gamers who have found Microsoft's prohibition on the word "gay" anywhere in their Gamertag to be discriminatory.
Bans of such users have been widely publicized in recent years, and hotly disputed. Microsoft has always contended its intent was to protect users from harassment, and to prevent users from creating Gamertags that insulted, rather than celebrated orientation, religion or nationality.
"Under our previous policy, some of these expressions of self-identification were not allowed in Gamertags or profiles to prevent the use of these terms as insults or slurs," says Xbox Live general manager Marc Whitten in a public statement.
"However, we have since heard feedback from our customers that while the spirit of this approach was genuine, it inadvertently excluded a part of our Xbox Live community," he adds.
This new update to the Code of Conduct "will allow our members to more freely express their race, nationality, religion and sexual orientation in Gamertags and profiles," he says.
According to Whitten, Microsoft will employ "increased stringency and enforcement to prevent the misuse of these terms."