Technology

Why conservatives accuse Xbox of being ‘woke’

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Move over, gas stoves. There is a new household item that has been thrown into the climate change culture war.

Microsoft, the tech behemoth behind the video game console, said earlier this month that it will update Xboxes to run more efficiently, saving users money on their electricity 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 caring too much about the planet.

“It’s crazy what they’re doing,” lamented Fox News host Jimmy Failla a recent segment. “They’re trying to recruit your kids to climate policy 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 that efforts to curb carbon emissions threaten the American way of life.

It follows a heated debate over gas stoves that started this month after a member of the Consumer Product Safety Commission said he had not ruled out banning or regulating the appliance because of the health risks of toxic fumes. The agency later retracted the remarks after loud Republican criticism.

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

So what’s really going on with my Xbox?

On January 11, Xbox said in a blog post that it is rolling out a series 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 example, whenever possible, the company said, it will schedule updates to games, apps and other software at times of the night when renewable sources generate a higher share of electricity on the local grid.

And Xbox will automatically update certain older consoles to a power-saving mode to reduce power consumption when gaming time is over. That mode is already standard on newer models.

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

Microsoft declined to comment beyond its January 11 blog post.

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

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

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