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According to Xbox, “that was some serious potato aim” is totally normal trash-talk

Trash talk can be pretty difficult. How do you know when you’ve crossed the line from harmless competitive banter and strayed into outright abuse? At what point does your gentle ribbing completely ruin someone’s day? Thankfully, help is now at hand, as a result of Xbox’s new community guidelines.

Those were updated earlier this week, and it didn’t take long before the Xbox community (via Motherboard) realised there was something a little odd about them. As well as encouraging a positive attitude and discouraging trolling, the guidelines give some easy dos and don’ts when it comes to talking down your in-game opponents.

Microsoft says that “a little trash talk is an expected part of competitive multiplayer action […] but hate has no place here, and what’s not okay is when that trash talk turns into harassment.” It says that “lighthearted banter or bragging” that’s focused on the game is fine, but harassment is “negative behaviour that’s personalised, disruptive, or likely to make someone feel unwelcome or unsafe.” So far, so good.

It’s when Microsoft tries to explain what that trash talk should look like when things get a little weird. They offer classic put-downs like “come at me when you can actually drive without running cars off the road,” and “get good and then come back when you k/d’s over one.” My personal favourite, however, is “that was some serious potato aim. Get wrecked.”

What’s not ok, however, would be something like “hey <profanity>, that was some serious potato aim. Get wrecked, trash” or “only reason you went positive was you spent all game camping. KYS, kid.”

This is all fair enough, of course, and advising players to avoid unnecessary profanity or racist, sexist, or homophobic language is probably a good move. What’s a little more confusing, however, is that Microsoft decided to be quite so “how do you do, fellow kids” about the whole thing.

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