Apparently Microsoft is at cross purposes when it comes to the company’s ideals of gender equality. During GDC this week the tech giant hosted a vibrant, “Women in Gaming” luncheon by all accounts it was a success with participants bringing up real issue they face as women in the field of gaming.
Then as night fell, a much darker Microsoft came at to play. An Xbox party included Celtic themed 20 year old who had more skin than clothing on, gyrating at every junction at the party on boxes. One Twitter user and game developer, Kamina Vincent was more than a little offended and let the world of the internet know about it.
They were dancing on podiums.— Kamina Vincent (@spamoir) March 18, 2016
(Deleted originals to blur faces of the dancers) pic.twitter.com/pG1BxmtbnO
Super unfortunate and terrible mixed messaging https://t.co/bG0L4cc14M— Kamina Vincent (@spamoir) March 18, 2016
I like dancing, I like talking to devs. But not at this #GDC16 party. Thanks for pushing me out of this party, Microsoft.— Kamina Vincent (@spamoir) March 18, 2016
This fucking bullshit party just cements my place as a playstation consumer. Fuck you xbox.— Kamina Vincent (@spamoir) March 18, 2016
A justifiable angry spectator at a gaming event that is clearly sending mixed signals. To ensure there is no miscommunication Kamina clarified here evening speaking to The Mary Sue.
“I arrived at the GDC 16 Microsoft party and saw two women who stood out. They were immediately noticeable from their outfits because they seemed dressed completely differently to everyone else for the event, wearing a cleavage enhancing crop top and short miniskirt. She introduced herself and asked if we were having fun.
I asked what her role was at the party. She told me that they had been hired to speak with attendees and encourage them to the dance floor. As I continued my questions about her presence and role at the party she quickly excused herself from the conversation and joined a group of men on a nearby sofa. It was a conversation that left me feeling very uncomfortable and I chose this moment to leave the party.
The men I saw interact with these women seemed to be enjoying the attention, happily chatting and taking posed photos with them. I did speak with several women after deciding to leave the party and their views were all consistent with mine.”
Clearly the powers that be at Microsoft were also offended by the notion, Xbox head Chief Phil Spencer has called the move, “unequivocally wrong” sending out an official statement to The Verge:
“How we show up as an organization is incredibly important to me. We want to build and reflect the culture of team Xbox – internally and externally – a culture that each one of us can represent with pride. An inclusive culture has a direct impact on the products and services we deliver and the perception consumers have of the Xbox brand and our company, as a whole.
It has come to my attention that at Xbox-hosted events at GDC this past week, we represented Xbox and Microsoft in a way that was absolutely not consistent or aligned to our values. That was unequivocally wrong and will not be tolerated. This matter is being handled internally, but let me be very clear – how we represent ourselves as individuals, who we hire and partner with and how we engage with others is a direct reflection of our brand and what we stand for. When we do the opposite, and create an environment that alienates or offends any group, we justly deserve the criticism.
It’s unfortunate that such events could take place in a week where we worked so hard to engage the many different gaming communities in the exact opposite way. I am personally committed to ensuring that diversity and inclusion is central to our everyday business and our core values as a team – inside and outside the company. We need to hold ourselves to higher standards and we will do better in the future.”
Phil is talking the correct talk to suggest that their products are fun and should be for everyone. You’re almost inclined to believe him, if this hasn’t been the first time the industry has been a repository for misogynistic hate.
Speaking to us last year, it what seems almost prophet now, Game Developer Brianna Wu was victimized along with hundreds of other women for her position that the game industry should change to include woman voice.
In the interview, Wu outlines the work that still needs to be done and more importantly, how dangerous it really is for those of a certain chromosome. We contacted Wu and she had this to say.
As an industry, we keep trying to recruit more women. But the guys in charge don’t understand- this stuff sends a very strong message that we are not welcome. It sends the message that tech is a boys club.The issue is not about the women. I am a sex positive feminist and I support a woman’s right to choose her own profession. But this is beyond inappropriate in a professional setting. It makes tech seem like a frat house.I’m very encouraged by Microsoft’s response, which was to admit this was a mistake. In so many ways Microsoft lead see industry on inclusion, so I’m glad to see them do the right thing.