A little while ago, Xbox announced plans to make its Xbox Series X|S consoles a little more energy efficient. Called Xbox Carbon Aware, this new feature would basically schedule automatic updates to happen when regional carbon intensity data shows emissions for your area are at their lowest. This would mean your Xbox Series X would use solar, wind, or other renewable energy for automatic updates rather than non-renewable sources like oil or coal. Xbox Carbon Aware would also allow the user to set their own active hours so that their console would shut down during non-active hours.
While these features were enabled automatically, all of them could be adjusted or even disabled by the user in the Xbox settings. However, Republicans seem to have overlooked this fact and instead went on the offensive, calling Xbox's Carbon Aware features some sort of assault on conservative values.
Honestly, it’s a little hard to parse their arguments. Senator Ted Cruz said on Twitter: "First gas stoves, then your coffee, now they're gunning for your Xbox," as though updating your Xbox while wind turbines are spinning and solar panels are humming somehow makes those downloads worse.
Conservative commentator Rick DeVos called it a "general service level degradation," while John Ziegler suggested that Xbox Carbon Aware could make "young people realize the negative real-world impacts of the #ClimateScam."
As noted by The Verge's Tom Warren, at least one pundit on Fox News said Xbox was "trying to recruit your kids into climate politics" with this update, even though most Xbox owners are probably unaware that their consoles have even been updated at all.
Republican-affiliated group Young America's Foundation said "the woke brigade is after video games all in the name of climate change." But as noted by games analyst Daniel Ahmad, "How can they claim Xbox is woke when this feature puts the console to sleep?"
There's definitely an argument to be made that Xbox's energy improvements are relatively minor and that Microsoft's green goals are questionable when it's also making pointless accessories for your Xbox controller. But arguing that Xbox is somehow making games worse just for downloading scheduled updates when emissions are their lowest is just plain sad.
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