Tuesday night, the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) co-presented a party attended by industry experts…and scantily clad dancers (click my previous article, here, for the photo). Game designer Brenda Romero resigned her co-chair position of IGDA’s Women in Games special interest group as a result, and according to her Twitter feed, women have thanked her for her action. Before writing the article, I queried IGDA for a comment. The group has just responded:
“As many of you know, the IGDA was a co-presenter of the YetiZen party Tuesday evening.
We recognize that some of the performers’ costumes at the party were inappropriate, and also some of the activities they performed were not what we expected or approved.
We regret that the IGDA was involved in this situation. We do not condone activities that objectify or demean women or any other group of people.
One of the core values of the IGDA is encouraging inclusion and diversity.
Obviously we need to be more vigilant in our efforts. We intend to be so in the future.”
That’s good to hear, and I’m very glad IGDA has responded in this way. IGDA is a professional organization who should be representing all its members, not just the ones who want to watch scantily clad female dancers.
So what’s the big deal? Why should we care if women are dancing at a party? To quote a commenter on my previous article, Martins, “If everyone is a consenting adult why isn’t it okay for people to be on display? It’s a lot of fun to be on display and it’s supposed to be fun to watch.”
As I’ve said before, the problem is that “people” were not on display: women were. And for other women, this objectification makes them feel uncomfortable and excluded. This is not how a professional organization should be treating its members–and I will hold IGDA to their promise of vigilance.
But commenter (the amusingly named) Jobot Spacewizard, read my mind when s/he wrote, “I am all for sexy dancing, but there is a time and place, and that is not at a professional event where you want to be inclusive.”
Jobot, I hope you get all the sexy dancing you could ever want.
YetiZen has responded as well. In a press release, CEO Sana Choudary, wrote “YetiZen did not hire dancers. We hired avid gamers, who happened to be models, to discuss gaming with the invited guests.”
I’d just like to note that it seems rather difficult for these avid gamers to discuss gaming with the guests while dancing up on a stage. The same is true for the stiltwalkers who also appeared.
In other words, YetiZen, if you had hired these models for their conversational skills, you obviously didn’t get your money’s worth. If you had hired them to be models, the fact that they got up on stage and danced for you, means that you got more than your money’s worth.
However, it seems more likely that they were dancing because that’s what they were hired to do.
If I had wanted to hire people for their conversational skills, I would have hired industry leaders, because they’re the ones we want to converse with.
You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and here at Forbes.