Microsoft says it was “unequivocally wrong” to hire scantily dressed dancers to perform at an official Game Developers Conference after-party in San Francisco.
Videos and pictures of dancers dressed in schoolgirl costumes at Thursday’s event sparked a firestorm of criticism after attendees voiced complaints on social media.
“I like dancing, I like talking to devs. But not at this #GDC16 party. Thanks for pushing me out of this party, Microsoft,” tweeted Kamina Vincent.
In a statement, Xbox chief Phil Spencer acknowledged the event “disappointed many people” and pledged to “do better in the future.”
“We represented Xbox and Microsoft in a way that was not consistent or aligned to our values,” Spencer’s statement said. “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.”
At the conference, aspiring developer Aryn Rozelle was surprised to hear word spread about what’s described as “an invitation only” after party for Microsoft’s Xbox division.
“It’s not necessarily appropriate when you’re going to have such a diverse audience of attendees,” she said.
Videos and pictures posted on social media show dancers in short skirts and cut off tops.
Josh Samuels, who moderated an International Game Developer’s Association “Women in Games Allies” roundtable, said he believes there is more work to be done in an industry that pushing for inclusion.
“I’m willing to give companies the benefit of the doubt if they immediately disavow and say no we did not want that,” Samuels said. “Diversity is becoming more of a front burner concern for sure. I think having something like exotic dancers at a Microsoft party is a big step back from that.”