Microsoft Exec Apologizes for Xbox Party With ‘Sexy Schoolgirl’ Dancers

The Game Developers Conference is infamous for this sort of after-hours fare

Microsoft is in hot water after the company’s after-hours party at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco featured dancers in “sexy schoolgirl” outfits dancing on podiums.

Phil Spencer, head of Microsoft’s Xbox division, issued a statement declaring the decision to have the dancers at the party “unequivocally wrong.”

“It has come to my attention that at Xbox-hosted events at GDC this past week, we represented Xbox and Microsoft in a way that was absolutely not consistent or aligned to our values,” Spencer said. “That was unequivocally wrong and will not be tolerated. This matter is being handled internally, but let me be very clear — how we represent ourselves as individuals, who we hire and partner with and how we engage with others is a direct reflection of our brand and what we stand for. When we do the opposite, and create an environment that alienates or offends any group, we justly deserve the criticism.”

Flashy after-hours parties at GDC cause controversy seemingly on an annual basis, and the reason for it is usually the same: the hiring of female dancers to perform during the parties. Microsoft is at the center of this year’s controversy this year, but in 2015 the chief offender was graphics card maker Nvidia, which also featured dancers at its 2016 event.

The games industry has a reputation as a boy’s club that would prefer to keep women out, and it’s a common complaint that parties like this one do nothing but reinforce that idea. Consequently, that’s believed to have discouraged women from seeking careers in the industry.

A 2014 Independent Game Developers Association survey indicated that less than a quarter of the game industry workforce was female.

Earlier on Thursday Microsoft held a Women in Games luncheon at the conference.

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