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‘It is with heavy hearts that we announce the loss of our brother, Stephen Toulouse, @Stepto, this morning. Beloved son, brother and uncle.’
Toulouse had worked at Microsoft for almost 18 years, and he was most recognisable for his role as the director of Xbox Live policy and enforcement. In this position, he helped shape the company’s response to issues that many online communities are still attempting to deal with. He left the position in early 2012, stating that his departure was prompted by feeling ‘strangely comfortable, and strangely too tied,’ which was a result of having spent almost all of his adult life with the company.
During his time as Xbox’s VP of policy enforcement, Toulouse also co-hosted the Xbox podcast, Major Nelson Radio, and often spoke out about how people should conduct themselves online. Toulouse was seen as the public face for the rules governing behavior on the Xbox Live service and often explained and clarified policies. In 2010 Toulouse explained to an Xbox Live gamer why the swastika was a bannable offence, saying, ‘If you think the swastika symbol should be re-evaluated by societies all over the Earth, I think that’s great. Your Xbox Live profile or in game logo, which doesn’t have the context to explain your goal, is not the right place to do that.’
At the Xbox Live Enforcement panel at PAX in 2010, he introduced Stepto’s Law of Xbox Live ban protests: ‘The more convoluted, overwrought and lengthy the protest of innocence, the probability of it being bullshit approaches one.’
In recent years Stephen Toulouse had suffered from a few health issues. He will be remembered mostly for his work to try and ensure that gaming online was safe and enjoyable for everyone.