Microsoft came under fire last night as a corporate-sponsored GDC party made numerous attendees feel unwelcome due to the presence of exotic dancers dressed as scantily-clad schoolgirls.
Various video game developers found Microsoft's use of exotic dancers at what should be an event for people of all stripes to be deeply offensive.
Microsoft had sponsored sessions designed to encourage female game developers at GDC, so the presentation of women at this after-party was seen as a huge backstep for a company attempting to address the issue elsewhere at the same event.
Here's a selection of choice tweets regarding the matter:
👎🏼Microsoft sponsors a Women in Games lunch and awards, but then has scantily clad women dancers at their GDC party. NVIDIA does similar. 👎🏼— Lauren Clinnick✨ (@laurclinn) March 18, 2016
ehhhhh I feel so icky about this because I was at Microsoft’s Women in Games Luncheon and now feel deceived https://t.co/bvHNBrun2v— soha (@sokareemie) March 18, 2016
This is how the games industry excludes women: By pretending we don't exist and having dev parties with strippers. pic.twitter.com/9GsYyEAQOo— Jennifer @ PAX West (@Gaohmee) March 18, 2016
For its part, head of Xbox Phil Spencer sent out an industry-wide e-mail apologising for this. He calls Microsoft's decision to hire exotic dancers at a supposedly professional industry event "unequivocally wrong" and noted that "this matter is being handled internally". You can read his full statement on the party below:
"How we show up as an organisation 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."