Extremely disappointed @Microsoft and @Xbox hired women wearing these outfits to perform at @gdc. PLEASE RT. pic.twitter.com/JYFTTGdzQk— Brianna Wu, Yeah! (@Spacekatgal) March 18, 2016
Microsoft had an archaic message for female gamers at this week's four-day 2016 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco—namely, TOGTFO. The tech mammoth made a reckless, albeit entrenched, move at Saturday's Xbox event wherein they featured women in barely-there costumes, dressed like prepubescent Catholic school girls, to greet their predominantly male partygoers. And not everyone was thrilled.
Several attendees took to Twitter to air their frustration. Most notably, Kamina Vincent posted a series of perfect tweets in response.
Fuck you xbox & your fucking "dancing" girls who are here to talk to the boys (You're not men if you buy into that act) #GDC16— Kamina Vincent (@spamoir) March 18, 2016
This is the first fucking time I've felt this unwelcome at a games event. I know it happens and it shits me.— Kamina Vincent (@spamoir) March 18, 2016
THIS is why we have a shit rate of women in games. Because these fucking boys clubs that make people unwelcome. Fuck you @Microsoft #GDC16— Kamina Vincent (@spamoir) March 18, 2016
Vincent and others were quick not to place blame on the dancers, who were there to do a job. The fault here lies squarely with Microsoft, who planned the event. "[The dancers] introduced herself and asked if we were having fun," Vincent told The Huffington Post. "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."
After receiving a rapid backlash, Microsoft went into spin control late Saturday. Xbox chief Phil Spencer sent an emil to The Verge, explaining that the GDC event in question "was not consistent or aligned to our values," and said Microsoft would do better in the future." His statement reads:
At Xbox-hosted events at GDC this past week, we represented Xbox and Microsoft in a way that was not consistent or aligned to our values. It was unequivocally wrong and will not be tolerated. I know we disappointed many people and I’m personally committed to holding ourselves to higher standards. We must ensure that diversity and inclusion are central to our everyday business and core values. We will do better in the future.
Oddly enough, that very same day Microsoft sponsored a Women in Games lunch.
As you should know, sexism in gaming is kind of a big deal right now. Women are underrepresented. The #gamergate movement's harassment of female gamers. Online gaming communities. Men dominating the game development arena. And on. And on.
After the Microsoft-Xbox fallout, Boing Boing's Xeni Jardin posed a wonderful question to Microsoft, asking, "What message should women take from fuckme schoolgirl dancers at your #GDC party?"
Microsoft has yet to respond to her.