Frequency of Profanity in Halo 2

February 8, 2006 by Josh · 222 Comments
Filed under: Games, Tech 

Thanks for visiting, please realize that I’m not writing this to advocate censoring or that I’m surprised by swearing or don’t like it, I was just curious to see what the frequency was.

Master Chief

When you logon to Xbox live more often then not you will be greeted by a 14 year old that learned a new word on the playground that day, or maybe it’s the drunken 24 year old who hates black people, gays and anyone who isn’t in his frat. individuals afflicted with IAS (Internet A-hole Syndrome). No matter who you are if you have played on live you have run into cursing and lewdness. If you look at the rating for the game you can see that it is intended for ages 17+ but parents don’t care/understand/listen so lots of underage kids have this game. Another important thing to note is that the rating includes a warning that the game experience changes with use of online features. Please do not confuse this with a plea for the government to crack down and tighten control on the gaming industry. If anything this information should be used by parents to educate themselves about what their child is involved with and then make an educated decision to let them play or not.

Last December I started recording the frequency of profanity that I was able to hear while playing Halo 2. The results of the study which lasted 33.9 hours were surprising.


1. The curse words were those which I could hear, more may have occurred and other players in a given game may not have heard the same number of curse words I did. The ability to hear other players depends on your proximity to them.

2. The times recorded are the times I was signed into Xbox live and either engaged in a game or in the process of joining a game or viewing the results and listening to the discourse of other players. The times do not reflect solely “in game” time. You can view my games at with the gamertag Ca1vin. note the ONE in the gamertag.

3. Do not proceed if you do not want to view words which may offend some.

More after the Jump

The Results….

The Words and categories used are as follows.

Fuck: All forms, ing, ed, er
Ass: hole, bag, hat, etc
Shit: Self Explanatory
Racial: any derogatory term which focused on a player’s race
Sexual: Sexual phrases which were not homosexual. Fuck was not included in this unless it was directed at a person i.e. your mom.
Homosexual: Comments which called someone gay or any slang term with the same meaning or referred to two people of the same gender performing sexual acts on each other.
Damn: Self Explanatory
Bitch: Self Explanatory

Overall percentage use of curse words or lewd comments

Halo 2 Cursing Frequency

Hourly breakdown of Curse words or lewd comments in Halo 2

halo 2 hourly curse frequency

Overall Usage of Profanity

halo 2 overall curse frequency

You can download the Excel spreadsheet with my data in it here (right click, Save As) FIXED

If you have any questions about the study please leave a comment.


If you are unclear of the intent of this study or think I am a prude who wants the government to regulate our lives please read the update. Link


Cleaned up some broad generalizing in my intro.


222 Responses to “Frequency of Profanity in Halo 2”
  1. brad says:

    I’ve put up about 70 recordings if people want to hear what he is talking about.

  2. chris says:

    Pensacola in the house( FL)

  3. Kyla says:

    people who come to these sites just to bash on the author of the post really sicken me. God, you people act like he’s aggresivley trying to make a point here… Most likely all this post was for was for interest and amusment for other people…. Oooooh, all of you people irritate me so much i cant even express it correctly

  4. nich says:

    you are cool

  5. I made up my Gamertag says:

    look dumbass everyone curses online becuase if you suck like you probably do, then your gonna get people yelling at you so if you wanna get your ass kicked then add me and ill play you Gamertag: Tm3Sniper

  6. Atma says:

    Interesting Study. If anything, I join the crowd of people chiming in thier surprise that the numbers are so low. While I was playing on live I must have heard at least an average of 20 fucks-per-hour. Oh well, perhaps one gets so jaded, and expects to hear it so often, that it just seems like you’re actually hearing more than you actually are.

  7. Trench Trash says:

    We still run a clean CS server because we ban em all.
    How the punks equate a fps game with a right to spew their hatred is beyond me. The arguments I hear are ridiculous, like the classic one about killing people, why not swear…its mature? You aren’t killing people, you are shooting targets in a game…its social. Go to war and see how much you appreciate civility. The game comes with a mature rating, clearly many players are not, regardless of age. We have players ranging from 9 - 50 years old who play our server. The only thing that ruins a good night of gaming is an “internet tough guy” and lag.
    If only I cold ban the lag too :/

  8. ryan says:

    does the feedback work at all because ive left it before and nothings ever happened

  9. tyler says:

    I just ordered xbox live it looks pretty cool im not for shure that it will work for highspeed of 600. Well i think all your commets are good. But i half to admit when people curse its pretty funny sometimes.

  10. mick says:

    Most of the players of Halo 2 are young men. Guess what? Young men swear a lot, either in normal conversation or while playing online games. So it is really more of a study of how young men talk than a study of swearing during online games.

    I, too, am surprised the numbers are so low. How could you only hear “gay” a couple of times an hour? Listen to a group of teenagers talk and it is hard to go 2 minutes without hearing the word gay used to describe something or someone.

  11. george burdick says:

    Good job Josh,

    Many gamers on line are very bright kids. Unfortunately there are many profanities. I will continue to monitor my 13 year old to ensure he abstains from profanities or he will not play xbox 360 live. Excellent job with the powerpoint and the spreadsheets.

  12. Voss says:

    I really dont understand what the the big deal is with swearing, whats the benifit from say’in those words anyway.

  13. Josh says:

    To tell you the truth one of the only reasons i play halo 2 is so i can go on there and start cussing at people and telling people horrible things, because the ones who sit there and listen to the crap i spit are usually the funnest to play with

  14. Odious R3bORn says:

    Yes, everyone usually cusses on this game….just mute everyone and play. I don’t think any kid under the age of 14 should play this game, i am almost 17 and i see alot of younger player. The curseing really doesn’t bother me that much, but this game really isn’t intended for younger gamers to play.

  15. mo says:

    Wow, i found this searching up a online halo 2 tournament.
    Guess what, i’m 14.
    Guess what, I don’t cuss.
    Guess what, no1 on my friends list cusses.
    Guess what, the only people that really cuss are the ones that lose. I get cussed out a lot cause I win alot ( i really don’t care if you think that’s conceited.)
    It’s all about personal choice.
    Live above the influence, idiots.
    None of this is a lie.

  16. Kelly says:

    If you don’t want your kids hearing these things, then don’t let them play the games. It’s that simple.

  17. isaac_i says:

    The people that have responded thus far are mostly dumb. I mean, dumb.

    A lot of people said, “Just put in earplugs,” or, “If you don’t like it, don’t play.”

    That’s just stupid. To play Halo 2 on XBOX live everyone had to agree to terms and conditions that prohibit explicit language… on the feedback system in Halo 2 there’s a selection for cursing and lewdness. IT ISN’T ALLOWED.

    But I’m surprised at all the people who are, in one way or another, defending racial slurs. What sort of redneck idiots think that calling someone an N word is “JUST PART OF THE GAME” ??????

  18. Snowprince says:

    I cery much agree wit you. I understand the arguing on halo 2 every day. I appereciate your courage to even leave your gamertag on this site. good thing for the xbox 360 to come out so you may file complaints aganst people right on your 360. I admire your leadership.

  19. bushido72 says:

    I agree, the extreme over-use of cusswords on Halo 2 and other LIVE games is rediculous, not to mention all of the little kids who brag every time they make a kill. It’s too bad bungie doesn’t do anything about it; for now the only solution I see that I’ve already implemented is to disable voice output, or set it to “xbox live commmunicator only” and leave the headset unplugged.

    We all just want to have fun! Not have our online experienced wrecked by a bunch of 12-14 year olds!

  20. FireHopper says:

    TRUE - If 1 person gets into an arguement (mostly kids) then other people will either defend them or argue with them. so every one in the match will take sides.

  21. McNasty says:

    y does every 1 always say little kids?im 14 and i can play the game and sware all i want. i probly have a larger penis than all of u anyway+i have a life(to all u 24 yeaar olds that should be in scool but spend all ther time on halo. some advise is to go outside .so if u c the gamertag McNastyJR 285 online remember that i have a large penis.

  22. Joel says:

    The statistics of this specific top really made me jump. I was writing a sermon on the Book of James, chapter 3, verses 1-12. I was looking for statistics on teenagers and there foul lanuage and i found this website. The topic of the specific passage is about “Taming the Tongue.” This has given me an interesting introduction to my sermon.

  23. RIDEIN DIRTY says:

    i also believe that these were off, there is alot more. and who really cares? they are jest words, and if youre offended then i think that you should stop playing xbox live. jest shut down youre headset and enjoy the game! i dont know why you even bothered looking at all of this…. do you, like , have no life????

  24. Jared says:

    Well, I was playing a custom game with a couple of my friends and then I randomly got booted even thought I was party leader, Then I got signed out of Xbox live.

    I troubleshooted and found that there was somthing wrong with my Ip adress….. The next day i was just messing aroung on halo2 and i wanted to see if live was working … unfortunatly it was not but I did see a note that said.

    ” ESRB Notice: Gaming experience may change durig online play.”

    And I was just wondering if it had any relavence to My xbox live problem..

    I was also wondering why I got it and what it exactly meant.. -jared

    If you want to contact me outside of this large conversation you can reach me on Halo2 —
    Icy Pancakes- or [email protected]

  25. Jared says:

    I was also amazed how people can go on about something for this amount of time

  26. g-unit says:

    I agreed with Josh. This is a study not a contest to see who can cuss better. Swearing isn’t an issue. It’s the people who are doing the swearing that worries me!

  27. REDPUBES says:

    k its a fucking game. if u r above the age 30 u shouldnt be fucking playing anyway u should go out and find a chick and fuck her and get married. if ur playing and u hav a wife she will prob leave u soon. seriosly tho, we can say whatever we want it doesnt matter with swears u shouldnt even care. NOW… what i do agree on is racism cuz thats not fair, im white but i dont think racism is funny. but swearing i think we should go all out… in the words of cartmen “fuck fuckity fuck fuck fuck”

  28. Dave says:

    HELP please halo 2 how do I get to KILL THE PROPHET OF REGRET. I have probably spent 20 hours tring to waste the Prophet, I brought all heavy armor thru from last stage, but can’t do it help me please

  29. g-uNot says:

    Dude, r u fuckin serious. R u gonna cry because people cusse at u. ive been playing halo 2 for 3 years and ur right, i learned how 2 cusse. but halo 2 teaches real life conflict danger. it shows the world out there aint so nice like u think. im in 9th grade and when i see other freshmen kids at my school act wierd, i think what faggots these kids are, they act like they own the school. but giv no respect 2 anyone else. my point is that if u can learn to control ur behavior around people who act crazy, then u learn to respect people and be mopre disicpline of ur self. so stop fucking taking notes and do something about it. people who give this nice feedback 2 u really arent so nice and u cant just think people have ur back on this because in the real world its EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF.

  30. I’ve played Halo a few times, but Counter-Strike is still my favorite FPS and I can remember cursing up a storm.

  31. I understand the whole factor on cussing and everything…..but there is also the freedom of speech….kids can use the right just like adults can……but i do agree that there is to much cussing sometimes…..expecially when its like 10 year old kids….they should ban kids with sqeuaky voices… know they arent 18……anyway thats part of the reason i bridge…..if fags get on my nerve i just boot them

  32. luke says:

    u r such a geek! y wud u even bother doing tht? skools r full of language like this nowadasys anyway

  33. SOUL BADASS says:

    To the guy who said those little 14 year old shit talkers is correct. I mean lets think intimidation, theres nothing intimidating about a little girl bitching you ou to prove a point, its just imature and it is the SOL reason why they invented mute options.

    If everyone played mature wise or just did’nt give into other people’s shit we’d have no use for stuff like booting systems, and mute options, its all just a disgrace.

    But no matter how you look at it, you can talk as much shit as you want, I mean just scream it, say it all day. But at the end of the day you’ve accomplished nothing, if instead you let your skills and gaming attitude speak for you, thats what makes you who you REALLY are. Like a wise person told me once… “anyone, can say anything, but only true men can back up what they’ve said, or even without saying anything, which leaves no argument.”

    Say what you want about this comment, but I belive that 90% of the whole online community would agree with that statement.

  34. Dylan says:

    I agree. Whats the point of cussing. It dosent get u anywhere, but being booted out and hated from your teammates and the other team.

  35. Goza says:

    Test is a lil outdated now, maybe you need to redo it 4 kicks lol, halo2 rules, n your test doesnt seem 2 b right, i go on live and hear something lewd from the moment i join a party to the second i sign off when some tool sends me a message of abuse because i pawned him lol, safe josh see ur point though

  36. JO says:

    i hope you relize the results of this language and the lives you are effecting and the people you are hurting real men dont have to talk trash !!!!!!!!!!!

  37. Chuck says:

    First, it’s a great study. Thank you very much for conducting it and posting it.

    Secondly, I am a parent, nearly 50 years old, and I set the wireless xbox up for my sons. I have played the game to see what they do because I need to know. The swearing is completely out of control and despite commentary that “know one cares”, let me assure you that parents deeply care because it pollutes the minds of their children. I disabled the voice feature in system setup screen. Most parents probably are unaware and that is too bad. Xbox needs to give out better notification on the language and how to control it. I am warning all the parents I know about this and having them disable the voice feature or at least reduce it to friends. The problem with that is that the player can add anyone as a friend and thus overule the parents intention. On the up side as my generation ages, and we are computer/network literate, it becomes easier to institute boundaries for your children.

    As a final note, the fact that society deems this type of language acceptable for those over 17 is absurd. It is wrong at any age. It dims your thinking, robs you of any innocence, and decays your very sole.

    No audio - out.

  38. David V says:


    Thank you, sincerely, for this little survey. I’m sure you’ve gotten much more feedback than you expected when you wrote it.

    I find myself in a bit of a predicament. On the one hand, I am a longtime libertarian and hardcore gamer (since 1980 on Atari 2600, 5200, 800 PC, Mac, Windows) and yet also now a parent with two young kids (bought a Wii in 2007, my first console since 1984) and I’m continually frustrated and annoyed at Nintendo for what appears to be an absurdly conservative policy on on-line communications, and yet I *know* what goes on with XBox Live and certainly would not want an involuntary earful. Even at my age, I don’t like profanity and certainly won’t tolerate being cussed at by a 14-year-old I’m not close enough to geographically to slap.

    Is it just because nobody cares anymore about being polite and decent? Is not liking being cussed at my own condemnable character flaw and personal problem and I should just get over it?

    Thanks again. I’ve hyperlinked to your article. I hope you don’t mind.

    David V

  39. Josh says:

    @David V: Thanks for the link and comment, I’m checking out your site right now, looks useful!

  40. Like to watch Stargate Atlantis episodes and also Lost. I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.


Check out what others are saying about this post...
  1. [...] Frequency of Profanity in Halo 2 [Josh Smith Online] [...]

  2. [...] But wait, Mr. Smith did not just tally every word deemed offensive: he categorized every usage in excruciating detail (which may or may not be safe for work, so we will just direct you to the article if you want to know). [...]

  3. [...] Shock horror! Some loser recorded statistics about it! [...]

  4. [...] 1) Someone went to the trouble of analyzing profanity usage online in Halo 2. Sure, you knew it was there, but did you know there were 0.23 more racial epithets than averrals of sexual preference per hour? 0.23. Hm. That would be, like “ga” but you know, that could really go either way so I’m thinking the stats may need work. [...]

  5. [...] My son, who is turning 10 on April 2nd, is totally addicted to video games.  He plays everything from Halo to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with his new found addiction of Lego Star Wars. Luckily I don’t allow him to play on-line.   Josh Smith has done a study on how often profanity was used while playing Halo2 for 33 1/2 hours. [...]

  6. Happenings in the Blog World - 2.10.2006

    Thought I'd chime in with a few interesting happenings in the blogosphere.

    The Perfect Valentine's Day is posted at Beauty vs. the Beast. Have a read, it's not too shabby if I do say so myself.
    Some cleaning ladies stole JJ's …

  7. [...] Josh Smith actually did the research on how often searing is done online in Halo 2. My brother sent me this, and since he claims "I use all his best material", he can kiss my ass. I found this hilarious mainly because I've already written about it, but just never felt the need to actually count how many times someone is saying he'll "own my fuckin' noob ass". Thanks Josh! [...]

  8. [...] Josh Smith Online � Frequency of Profanity in Halo 2 Guy breaks down word usage of Halo 2 XBox Live players. (tags: language gaming) [...]

  9. [...] Josh Smith Online: Frequency of Profanity in Halo 2 A study of “curse words and lewd comments” in Live Halo 2 play over 33.9 hours. “Fuck” took 43% of the swearies. Fine, but 7% of it was related to homosexuality and 9% was racially related. That seems a lot and it makes me very reluctant to join in. (tags: videogames society web xbox) [...]

  10. [...] Josh did a self-directed study of the number of curse words that he could hear in 33.9 hours of playing Halo2, divided them by word/category, and gives graphs, pie charts, etc. on them. [...]

  11. [...] Play Halo 2 often? I did. Haven’t been into it lately. WoW has been sucking up my game time lately. But I found this link on the frequency of words used while playing Halo 2. The pie chart at the bottom is neat, and pretty much how I figured it would slice. [...]

  12. [...] Josh Smith hat eine kleine Studie auf Xbox Live! gemacht. Und zwar hat er w�hrend 33.9 Stunden gez�hlt, wie oft in Halo 2 geflucht wird und welche W�rter dabei am meisten benutzt werden. �berraschenderweise liegt die Zahl mit 641 Fl�chen noch ziemlich tief (kommt vielleicht auch noch aufs Spiel an?). Mit 43 % liegt “Fuck!” ganz klar auf der Pole Position, gefolgt von “Shit” mit 19%. Weitere wundersch�ne Auswertungen (sogar in Excel) gibts auf [...]

  13. [...] The reason for such a high influx was my study about the Frequency of Profanity in Halo 2. [...]

  14. [...] Posted on Monday 13 February 2006 Josh Smith recorded the amount of profanity he heard over 33.9 hours of online Halo 2 action.But wait, Mr. Smith did not just tally every word deemed offensive: he categorized every usage in excruciating detail (which may or may not be safe for work, so we will just direct you to the article if you want to know). [...]

  15. [...] Frequency of Profanity in Halo 2 Josh Smith charts out the popularity of certain profanities heard on HALO 2 in Xbox Live. Being an online gamer myself, I’m used to hearing little kids spit out profanities for breakfast. Keywords: gaming, metrics, social, trends, xbox [...]

  16. [...] Nacho Libre Frequency of Profanity in Halo 2 F1 Japs (NSFW) Pluck and Buy at 7-Eleven/Japan The Beastles New Pics of DS Lite Compared Cracked Open Bomberman Act: Zero familyguymusic The New Lara Croft Curling calendar creating stir [...]

  17. NOBS says:

    [...] Click here for more of John’s report. No Comments so far Leave a comment RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI Leave a comment Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong> [...]

  18. [...] ’sto tizio qua ha registrato circa quaranta ore di gioco online ad Halo 2, e poi ha trascritto la frequenza di imprecazioni. In inglese, ovviamente, e, abbastanza scontato, stravince Fuck, col 43%.Podio per Shit (19%) e Bitch (7%).Soprende invece la scarsa variet�, confrontata soprattutto alla nostra abbondanza di parolacce… [...]

  19. [...] While checking out some incoming links from my Halo 2 Profanty Study I found Dimitri Tcaciuc’s weblog and comic drawings. [...]

  20. [...] Interesting study of the prevalence of profanity in Xbox Live. [...]

  21. SGFRAG says:

    Profanity On XBOX Live!

    Profanity on XBOX Live? Josh Smith has this to say:
    When you logon to Xbox live more often then not you will be greeted by a 14 year old that learned a new word on the playground that day, or maybe it�s the drunken 24 year old who hates black peopl…

  22. Profanity in Online Games.

    Josh Smith has conducted an amusing survey in to the frequency of various types of profanity on Microsoft’s X-Box Live service for playing Halo 2 online.

  23. [...] Found this the other day after the sight creator posted in the comments of the Halo 2 Profanity Study. [...]

  24. [...] Also check out my Halo 2 Profanity Study [...]

  25. [...] Check out my Halo 2 Profanity study [...]

  26. [...] To understand the level of profanity that can occur within Xbox Live there was an interesting study done by a gamer named Josh Smith while playing Halo 2. Although completely unscientific the study can be found at During his 33.9 hour study, with many disclaimers attached, he found 23 percent of insults to be racial or sexual. More interesting than the study is the comments that were made regarding it found below the study. [...]

  27. [...] In case you haven’t caught the newsflash a Dead Rising Demo hit XBL this afternoon.  I am currently downloading it, the whole GB of it.  I wish I could get a text message alert when a new demo is released on XBL.  I have the usual RSS reader set up however on a busy day you don’t find out about these releases until shortly after midnight.  I am starting to enjoy the new trend of XBLA title on Wednesday and a decent demo hitting at within the week.  These Friday demo releases still catch me off guard.  Also Welcome back Joystiq readers of the Halo 2 Profanity study.  I will be back in Halo 2 after about a 4 month break starting next week, so watch for that level as well as f bombs to drop. [...]

  28. [...] Okay, this is a little over the top, if you ask me. Josh Smith decided to write a blog post on the frequency of profanity during Halo 2 online play. Granted, it’s one person’s experience, and it’s gathered from a pretty small total sample (34 hours of gameplay - back in October, Frankie stated that more than 180 million hours had been logged, so we’re talking about a 0.00002% sample size - and that doesn’t even COUNT the hours played in the last 4 months)… but geez. Thanks, 3Suns.Link to original article posted by Louis Wu from HBO [...]

  29. [...] a basic quiz show game where you can compete with Xbox LIVE players at large — assuming the potty-mouthed eight-to-eighteen crowd is somehow accounted [...]

  30. [...] about the criteria and who nominated me (the fabulous Josh Smith, famous online for things like his 2006 study of the amount of swearing in Halo online play, writer for walletpop and all around great guy), and [...]