There’s a surprising new topic of discussion for conservative American media and politicians: Xbox. On Monday, the US senator and former presidential candidate Ted Cruz (R-TX) tweeted, “First gas stoves, then your coffee, now they’re aiming for your Xbox,” link to an article on the right-wing Blaze News site. Within hours, a member of the Freedom Caucus Rep. Troy Nehls (R-TX) had paraphrased Cruz’s tweet (throwing guns to spice it up a bit); FoxNews had posted an article with a headline claiming “Woke brigade is after video games”; and one fox and friends the host had said, “They’re going after the kids!”
What exercised these culture warriors so much? A new “carbon-aware” power-saving mode that Microsoft is rolling out for Xbox consoles, along with some changes to their default settings meant to reduce their impact on the environment.
Why did the Conservatives suddenly decide to target Xbox?
There’s never a right answer to that kind of question, though, as Cruz’s tweet suggests, the Xbox news (which broke two weeks ago) fits into a narrative that the right has built on progressive forces seeking to reduce personal conveniences and comforts in the midst of the climate. crisis. In recent weeks, right-wing media and commentators have seized on an academic study on the carbon footprint of coffee and on regulatory concerns about the impact of gas stoves on public health. Attacking Microsoft’s new green settings is a practical way to drive the subject forward, garlanded with a recognizable brand and some youthful appeal.
Also, Cruz is known to be a little playfulwhich can help him tackle this topic.
What is the “Carbon Aware” mode for?
Being “carbon aware” means that your Xbox, as long as it has an internet connection, will adjust when it updates and downloads at times when the local power grid uses the most renewable energy. and least dependent on fossil fuels. It determines the right time by checking regional carbon intensity data online. Carbon Sensitive Mode is enabled by default, but it only works when a console has been powered off using the Off setting, not Sleep Mode. (More on this later.)
Although new to Xbox, carbon awareness isn’t a brand new initiative— all Windows 11 updates have become carbon aware Last year. (Microsoft wants to be carbon negative by 2030not only in its own operations, but through the way its products are used.)
The right has targeted Carbon Sensitive Mode for the same reason Microsoft chose to headline its press release with it – it has a hip, progressive name. But in fact, another change Microsoft is making at the same time will have a far greater environmental impact.
Is Microsoft forcing gamers to turn off their Xbox?
No – Microsoft is not “forcing” anyone to do anything other than accept the “carbon aware” update, which has no impact on user experience, as it only affects the timing of downloads and downloads. updates when the console is off.
However, Microsoft is update all Xbox consoles to use the default shutdown (aka “power saving”) setting, rather than sleep mode. While sleep mode is still an option, people who want to use it will need to head into settings and reselect it after the update.
Shutdown consumes up to 20x less power than sleep mode, so the cumulative power-saving effect of Microsoft moving every Xbox to default shutdown is considerable. Even if some users choose to reverse the decision – a minor inconvenience, at worst – this update should have a significant impact on the carbon footprint of Xbox games around the world.
What is the difference between shutdown and sleep?
The “degradation” of user experience in the name of climate policy that conservative culture warriors complain about equates to longer boot times, mostly. According to Microsoft, a console can take up to 45 seconds to boot from Shutdown mode, while booting from Sleep mode is much faster. Additionally, features to wake the Xbox remotely or with your voice are no longer available in Shutdown – you have to physically press a button on the Xbox or controller to turn on the console.
Importantly, the Quick Resume feature that lets you pick up games exactly where they left off still works with Shutdown.
Should I leave my Xbox in shutdown mode?
It’s yours! But even aside from its impact on the climate emergency, the mode offers considerable energy savings that could help reduce your electricity bills in this time of soaring electricity costs. So it’s a fiscally sensible and environmentally responsible option, with only a minor downside – unless you can’t live without a remote wake-up, or find 45 seconds to be an unbearably long period of time.
Or unless you like paying extra to the power company to own the libraries.