Editor’s Note: Unbelievable…Mark Steighner actually found the source of all our Xbox Live voice-chat woes. Keep reading to see what he discovered! -Shoe

Xbox LiveThe voice was that of a pre-adolescent child, but the language spewing forth would have made the hardened criminals of Oz blush. This tot’s tirade of homophobic insult, invitations to commit anatomically impossible acts, intimations of propensity for maternal intercourse, and general nastiness was answered, in kind, by an adult male whose accent placed him somewhere in the southern United States, and whose evident literacy was somewhere south of fourth grade.

That every third word was a profanity was not surprising. What was interesting was how even monosyllabic epithets were stretched into diphthongs: fuh–uck yeah.

Welcome to Xbox Live.

I have spent hundreds of hours on Live public servers playing Call of Duty, Gears of War, and countless others, and not once have I heard an in-game conversation that was free of racial or sexual insult, stupidity, or a profanity-to-speech ratio of less than 6:1. Within the first 10 minutes of the first game I ever played on Live I pulled out my headset in disgust, but it has always seemed curious that, of the millions of Live subscribers, such a high percentage would be homophobic veterans from the deep South, willing at the slightest provocation to come to my actual house and f**k me up just because I cleverly positioned the Bouncing Betty in such a way that said player would step on it. Twelve times in a row.

But, as this post’s title implies, I may have broken this case wide open.


Hidden deep within the Xbox Live system blades is an automated translator, which converts everyday speech into “Live” speech. Since the default settings are “subliterate redneck” and “profanity every third word,” it is no wonder that the level of discourse is so disappointing.


Out of curiosity I dusted off my nearly dog-destroyed Live headset and fired up a free-for-all World at War match. My interjections during the match were flawlessly translated.

“Oh, that sniper bested me once again” came out “I f**king hate those f**king campers.”

“Darn,” I exclaimed after missing a critical shot. It was translated as “I say kill all the f**king Iraqis. And the f**gots,” in a drawl that was pitch-perfect Gulf-coast American.

This technology is brilliant and I can only guess why the brain trust at Microsoft has not trumpeted its accomplishment.