Why conservatives are accusing the Xbox of being ‘woke’


Move over, gas stoves. There’s a new household item that’s been thrust into the culture war over climate change.

Microsoft, the tech behemoth behind the video game console, said earlier this month it will update Xboxes to run more efficiently, saving users money on their electric bills and trimming the gaming industry’s carbon emissions.

But now conservative commentators and politicians are lashing out at Xbox, calling the brand “woke” for worrying too much about the planet.

“It’s crazy what they’re doing,” Fox News host Jimmy Failla lamented in a recent segment. “They’re trying to recruit your kids into climate politics at an earlier age.”

The Xbox is the latest product to join a long list—one that includes hamburgers, cars and, most recently, stoves—of everyday items targeted by conservatives who argue efforts to curb carbon emissions threaten Americans’ way of life.

It follows a flaming-hot debate over gas stoves sparked off this month after a member of the Consumer Product Safety Commission said he had not ruled out banning or regulating the appliance due to the health risk of toxic fumes. The agency later backtracked on the remarks after vocal Republican criticism.

“Now the woke brigade is after video games” said the Young America’s Foundation, a conservative group. AndSen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) quipped on Twitter this week: “First gas stoves, then your coffee, now they’re gunning for your Xbox.”

So what’s really happening to my Xbox?

On Jan. 11, Xbox said in a blog post it is rolling out a number of updates to improve the energy efficiency of existing consoles in an effort to meet Microsoft’s corporate goal of becoming “carbon negative” by the end of the decade.

For instance, when possible, the company said, it will schedule updates for games, apps and other software during times of the night when renewable sources are generating a higher proportion of electricity on the local grid.

And Xbox will automatically update certain older consoles to an energy-saving mode meant to reduce electricity consumption when game time is over. That mode is already the default on newer models.

The change comes at a small cost to gamers: It takes about 15 seconds to boot up an Xbox in power-saving mode compared to a “sleep” option from which the machine can instantly be woken up, according to the tech publication the Verge.

Microsoft declined to comment beyond its Jan. 11 blog posts.

The conservative website the Blaze accuses Microsoft of trying to “force gamers to power down to fight climate change.” But the company emphasized users can switch back if desired.

“You can adjust your settings at any time, choosing what works best for you,” wrote Blaine Hauglie, a technical program manager for Xbox.

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