Last week the Game Developers Conference, the games industry’s largest “professionals-only” event, took place in San Francisco. The event offered plenty to talk about as not only did gamers find out new info about upcoming games (such as LawBreakers’ decision to ditch free to play), but the best minds in the industry also held lectures, panels and discussions about where the industry is headed and how it can become better.
Unfortunately, despite these discussions and announcements, the positive aspects of GDC 2016 have been somewhat overshadowed by controversy. On March 17, the second to last day of GDC, Microsoft held a party which featured scantily-clad dancers as entertainment, with the company facing backlash for the ‘sexist’ event. Following the criticism, the Head of Xbox Phil Spencer has now apologised.
Microsoft Apologises for Sexist GDC 2016 Party
In a statement sent out to employees and published on the Xbox website, Spencer explains that the GDC 2016 event “represented Xbox and Microsoft in a way that was absolutely not consistent or aligned to our values” and that it was “unequivocally wrong and will not be tolerated”. He also says that the matter is being handled internally.
Spencer also stresses that thy want to “build and reflect” the culture of the Xbox team, “a culture that each one of us can represent with pride”. Additionally, the Xbox boss realises that “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,” also acknowledging that when they ”create an environment that alienates or offends any group,” they “justly” deserve criticism.
Although Spencer’s statement was published quickly (it was released the morning following the GDC 2016 event) and although Spencer says that he is “personally committed to ensuring that diversity and inclusion is central to our everyday business and our core values as a team,” some are not convinced that things will change at the company. With the sexist GDC 2016 event being held the same day as Microsoft’s annual GDC Women In Gaming luncheon, it’s clear that not everyone on team Xbox is on the same page.
Moreover, Microsoft was also called out for its sexist entertainment choice at the UK Xbox One launch party and it’s disappointing to see that the company hasn’t entirely learned from its past mistakes. Spencer does promise that the Xbox team will “do better in the future,” though, so we’ll keep you posted on any more developments in the story.