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People Are Flipping Out Over a Microsoft Party

At this week’s GDC, Microsoft has given people something new to be angry about: During an event party that took place during the convention, scantily clad women were employed to spice things up a little.

It pays to be outraged; quite literally, at times. There are people out there who make a living from their outrage, often inviting criticism upon themselves to further fuel their support. It’s a lucrative business, and it’s one that has seemingly blown up over the last few years. “Outrage Culture”, as it’s now known, is the idea that people are easily offended by anything. In its worst interpretation, it surmises that people will even go looking for something to be outraged by, lest the asylum go silent for just but a moment.

The asylum is never too quiet though, as there’s always something for someone to meltdown over. In recent years, fierce criticism of “booth babes”, girls who are employed to attract attention or display a product, has caused a lot of drama. It has resulted in a downward trend of their appearance at conferences, ironically reducing the amount of work these women can now find. Booth babes are now back in the spotlight, as it seems Microsoft have forgotten their place under the thumb.

At GDC this week, a game’s developer conference (that’s seen better days), Microsoft made the mistake of employing booth babes. This is in contrast to the tone of GDC this year, which itself is attempting to create a “safe space” through the use of a long winded “code of conduct“. Of course, Microsoft’s decision caused many people to blow up. The dancers were hired to staff Microsoft’s developer party, dancing with the crowd to make the party more interesting. This isn’t anything new, and you’re just as likely to see women wearing similar outfits in your own local nightclub, but it does go against new-wave puritanism.

The news of the schoolgirl-esque girls of Microsoft’s party spread over the internet, as it always does. Many people felt that such a spectacle made them feel “unwelcome”, claiming that “this is why we have a shit rate of women in games”. Of course, it’s more likely the case that women are afraid of such industries because they’re told how terrifying and abrasive they are, rather than them actually being terrifying and abrasive. Regardless, the move has many people up in arms, with some even going so far as to dehumanize the dancers.

“This is how the games industry excludes women: By pretending we don’t exist and having dev parties with strippers”, said one Twitter user , removing the women’s own agency and suggesting they “don’t exist”. The majority of outlets felt similar and were very much against the idea of these women being present at the event. Microsoft themselves have since backed down from the move, with CEO Phil Spencer releasing his own comments on the matter.

“We represented Xbox and Microsoft in a way that was not consistent or aligned to our values”, said Spencer in a statement, “it was unequivocally wrong and will not be tolerated”. Spencer promised to do better in future, and stated that “diversity and inclusion are central to our everyday business and core values”. Of course, the best way to do this would be to hire male dancers too, but that’s just our own set of ideas here at LewdGamer.

From the scenes we’ve been privy to, it looks as though the majority of people were just enjoying the party. These things are rarely as serious as they are made out to be, with the internet simply amplifying the torrent of outrage. It’s unlikely we will see this again from Microsoft, who hosted a “Women in Gaming” event not 24 hours before the party took place. This is the same GDC that claimed “Marxism is great for a designer“, so it’s quite unsurprising that there would be drama at the event. It may sound like crazy talk, but that’s just because it is.

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