XBLA Quarrel reveals mad Microsoft word filter
Quarrel, the multiplayer word game released on Xbox Live Arcade this week, falls foul of a curious, Microsoft-imposed word filter that forbids players from playing seemingly inoffensive words.
Shortly after the game's XBLA release on Wednesday, reports appeared on forums from players who had seen perfectly valid words turned down during competitive play on Xbox Live, including 'balls', 'train', and 'shaft'.
Gary Penn of developer Denki told us: "Quarrel uses the Collins official Scrabble dictionary comprising over 110,000 words up to eight letters in length, including a huge collection of words deemed 'offensive' by Collins, such as 'arse', 'shit', 'wank' and 'fuck'.
"You can make any offensive word you can find in singleplayer mode – unless you have the Xbox 'Family Setting' turned on."
All of which makes sense. But why are seemingly harmless words being disallowed?
"Microsoft has an additional filter in place for all Xbox Live games, which we have to support," Penn continued. "But while we have to use that filter, we don't know which words are permitted.
"From playing, we do know that it includes such oddities as 'help', 'start', 'skid', 'poop', 'bung', 'hung', 'dice' and 'god'. Microsoft clearly has its reasons for censoring such words within Live games."
Those reasons remain unclear, with Microsoft failing to respond to a request for comment at the time of publication. While we can understand the argument for the likes of 'poop' and 'balls' being forbidden, we can't fathom why the likes of 'train' and 'help' are off limits in a word game, especially when any Xbox Live user can don a headset and hear much worse within seconds of starting a multiplayer game.
While some of the above words have offensive uses, of course, context is king, and the filter could cause a few awkward moments for parents who could find themselves asked to explain to a child why the word 'shaft' is offensive. If Microsoft responds, we'll follow up.