Before you read: don't judge me by the above graphic, which is intended to be slightly humorous. While I'm not a fan of censorship in general, I can admit that as a new parent, it's relieving to know that game companies are taking the inevitable younger audiences into consideration when developing video games and platforms.
GamePolitics provides a link to Ars Technica, which has reported that Microsoft has just been awarded a patent for real-time audio censoring. Theoretically, this can be applied to game audio, video and music playback, and even voice chat.
Hit the "Read More" link for the rest of this intriguing announcement.
To someone who uses the privacy settings to block non-friends, this is a good thing, especially since I'm meeting more gamers via Co-optimus (and looking forward to future acquaintances).
Some GamePolitics readers, however, fear -- as they have done so many times in the past -- that this type of optional censorship could turn into an uncontrollable beast of internet, cell phone, and video game regulation.
For ease of mind, Jonathan Gitlin of Ars Technica provides both positive and negative potential aspects of this technology:
TV networks, fearing hefty FCC fines, would be able to broadcast live without fear of exposing the sheltered ears of their audience to a (possibly life altering) outburst or expletive.
I can also envisage a more sinister role, however, regardless of one's opinion on whether or not those seven words ought to be allowed to be said on television. Imagine the same system applied to digital telephony, then think how valuable such a system might be to an authoritarian regime. As we've seen to good effect in Burma and elsewhere, the ubiquity of cell phones has been a good thing for dissidents who need to get their message out or organize themselves. The Great Firewall of China already blocks objectionable web content from reaching Chinese computers; what's to stop cell phones from censoring anti-government conversations too?
Don't let the comparitive sizes of the above quotes mislead you: neither Co-Optimus nor Ars Technica have any particular paranoia about how this new tech could be used. The quotes have been paraphrased to make the point, and frankly: it's easier to see the positive effects that real-time censoring could have on broadcast television, radio, and video games at the receiving end (meaning consumer choice, which is never a bad thing).
Click here to see GamePolitics' blurb and subsequent user comments, or hit the "Source" link for the original Ars Technica article.