Microsoft GDC Party Regrets
I feel like I should say something, not just because I work in the game industry, or because I was at this party, or because I am in this photo, but also because I still remember the last time a company hired go go dancers at their GDC party and was just as disappointed then as I am now–though for different reasons.
A female colleague and I had just left the dance floor to meet up with another industry professional upstairs. When we looked back down to the dance floor the dancers had just arrived on the raised platforms. When I was caught in this picture, I was having a discussion with my colleagues about how surprised I was that a company like Microsoft would have made the same mistake as the great go-go dancing scandal of 2013 when both YetiZen/IGDA and Wargaming had some pretty strong backlash for hiring dancers at their own GDC parties.
I use the term “disappointed” because I know for a fact that Microsoft is actually very invested in diversity, being inclusive and supportive of women in games, and have a number of programs in place both internally for women employees as well as for outreach in general to women in tech.
So, while YetiZen and Wargaming were disappointments because I was reminded that, yet again, women wind up being accessories in the gaming world, I was even more disappointed that Microsoft would have made the same mistake when I know for a fact that their company culture is not at all represented here.
What is it about the game industry that can bring this out? Is it so deeply ingrained in the industry that the organizers didn’t even register what they were doing? Or recall why it was such a scandal in 2013?
I had some conversations with colleagues about it the next morning. Was it really “all that bad”? Would it have still been offensive if there were male dancers? How is it possible to be objectifying them if they are professional dancers just doing their own jobs? etc. etc.
I guess the answer to all of those is that it isn’t JUST that these ladies were at the party. It’s not a case of four dancers, dressed to titillate, showing up in an ocean of thousands of party guests. It’s that the position of women in gaming is still so unstable, those of us in it still have Gamergate fresh on our minds, that even a small infraction on an industry event like this makes a massive statement. We’re still healing, we’re still trying to build trust, and we’re still clearing the battlefield from that shameful war that engulfed the entire industry. It was too soon to have made this sort of mistake, as harmless as it may have been.
I’m sorry to know that the person responsible for this decision is likely losing their job, but damn it, they should have known better.
So far the statements from Microsoft have been swift and direct, taking responsibility and generally being aware of how this has damaged what they’ve been working towards cultivating. I’m looking forward to learning more about their next steps because I know they’ll make good on their promises to do all they can to repair that breach of trust.
Originally published at superheroresin.tumblr.com.