Microsoft manager Marc Whitten doesn’t think a lot of the recent criticisms from data security advocates about Microsoft’s new XBox One gaming console are fair.
“The player controls the system, not the other way around,” says the man who has become known as the Father of the XBox One, speaking to dpa on the sidelines of the E3 gaming convention in Los Angeles.
Critics have expressed concerns that the system’s mandatory internet connection and ever-present camera for the Kinect motion sensor system could intrude into a player’s privacy.
“We’re very focused on protecting privacy,” replies Whitten.
The Kinect technology should make it possible to “control the entertainment system more easily so you can play wonderful games,” says Whitten. It’s also not hard to turn the camera off.
The camera captures gestures for controlling on-screen characters, but is also precisely aware who and how many people are sitting in front of the screen.
Privacy concerns have only grown after recent revelations about a far-reaching US-operated surveillance system called PRISM.
“The XBox One is no Big Brother,” responds Whitten, noting that Microsoft sticks to the law. He also says it’s hard to believe that US intelligence services would even be interested in individual’s gaming habits.
There’s also been criticism of the system’s requirement for an online connection, without which the XBox One can’t download upgrades in the background. The console can also use the connection to check whether players are using a game that has been purchased, used before or copied by the user.
To do so, the XBox One has to go online every 24 hours. But Whitten thinks that’s OK.
“Yes, it’s necessary,” he says, though he also notes that the internet isn’t perfect and can sometimes crash.
The new XBox One should provide a base for games of “the next decade,” he says. That includes games from the cloud and the opportunity for players to create entirely new online worlds. He says the technical architecture of the XBox One is a “screen, upon which the artist can create his works.”
As for parents who have a problem getting their kids to stop playing games and do their homework, Whitten has a simple tip: “Just turn it off. That works great.”