Phil Spencer speaks out on sexually insensitive GDC 2016 after party

Kareem Anderson

Another day, another Microsoft gaff. Unfortunately, the most recent Microsoft fumble has nothing to do with cloak-and-dagger like word adjusting, communicative parsing, or head scratching hardware policies. Instead of the usual communication blunders the company has traditionally stumbled over, today Microsoft is under fire for its archaic and gender-specific alienating portrayal of women during its Game Developer Conference after-party.

Yesterday night, March 17, 2016, Microsoft hosted what was designed to be an appreciative party-of-sorts for developers and press who have been attending events, announcements, and press conferences related to the company’s gaming efforts. Sadly, Microsoft presumably chose to cater to its male attendees more than its female ones as its GDC after-party employed the age-old “booth babe” form of entertainment.

Images of the event, with ladies on showcase and some rather “impressed” attendees, surfaced online from various social media outlets including Twitter and Instagram late last night. Unsurprisingly, disappointed and disgusted reactions followed.

In a time when cultural, racial, and sexual sensitivity is finally getting scrutinized and addressed by many, it’s unfortunate to see Microsoft exhibit such a lapse in judgement regarding its further perpetuation of a male-only gaming industry.

As more reactions to the event began to appear online today, both Xbox Head Phil Spencer and Xbox’s marketing lead Aaron Greenberg have taken to social media and news outlets expressing their disappointment and apologies for the lack of consideration and insensitive nature of the party.

Head of Xbox, Phil Spencer also took to task his team with a company-wide email explaining the lack of tolerance for further gender-exclusive practices.

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.

Clearly, Microsoft has some reevaluating to do when it comes to hosting its next gaming-oriented get-together. Hopefully, the company can take inspiration from its much more respectable Women in Games luncheon.