No, we aren’t talking about a woman who incessantly called Xbox demanding to know why their kid loses at Fortnite.
Instead, we’re talking about the strange tale of how the name “Karen” was inexplicably banned from all Xbox titles for over a year, then heroically saved by one curious journalist looking for the truly important stories.
Settle in for this one, because it’s a wild ride. It all starts with the deputy editor of Eurogamer, late-night Reddit searches, and Wasteland 3. Wasteland 3 is a recently released top-down third-person RPG that has been capturing hearts and minds since its release. It’s available now on Xbox, PlayStation, and PC—which may sound like a plug, but it’s critical to this crazy story.
Wesley Yin-Poole, of Eurogamer, was looking at Wasteland’s Reddit page for advice on character builds, when he noticed that people were complaining that they couldn’t name their characters “Karen.” Being a journalist, he decided to see what was going on. He started with the PC version. No issues there. Next, the PlayStation. Again, no issues. Finally, the Xbox. Lo-and-behold, he couldn’t name his character “Karen.”
Weird, right? It doesn’t stop there, though. He decided to contact the developers of Wasteland, InXile, to see why he couldn’t use the name. They told him that each console manages its own filters, so they didn’t have any knowledge or control over it. So, he contacted Xbox to see what the deal was. Could it be that Xbox considers “Karen” to be a slur? Was the name being reported to the “managers” of Xbox too often?
Maybe, he thought, the name ban wasn’t limited to Wasteland. Sure enough, when he went digging around, he found out that the name wasn’t available on the console for over a year. If you substituted the “e” for an “i” you had no problems, but if you used the traditional spelling, Xbox would tell you that you needed to “keep it clean”—which is amusing because one Modern Warfare user found they could name their clan “anal” with no problems.
Finally, Xbox got back to him. They told him that his question had “gone through a lot of channels” but nobody at the company was sure why or how the name was blocked on the Xbox. He was told that Xbox didn’t have a policy to ban the name, but as of yesterday, the name is now available for use on the console.
We still don’t know why the name was banned in the first place, but the epic tale of the unintentional release of the “Karens” is pretty great. You never know what will happen when you simply start asking questions about innocuous things. If figuring out the lore of Minecraft were that easy, we think we would understand a lot more about the universe.
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