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March 28
2013

GDC ’13: Brenda Romero Resigns From IGDA

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Well, this is quite the development today. Brenda Brathwaite Romero, one of the biggest names in gaming and especially one of the biggest female names in the industry, has resigned from the International Game Developer’s Association. The reason for this dramatic decision can be summed up in two words: exotic dancers.

So here’s the story: on Tuesday night, the IGDA co-sponsored a party with YetiZen, [Editor's Note: IGDA's original event plans fell through last minute, and they then partnered with YetiZen] a company who does something kinda sorta related to helping startups, I think; their website isn’t very clear to me. At said party were at least three dancers on the floor in skimpy, revealing outfits and several more walking through the crowd on stilts. The backlash was fast, and the fallout has been substantial. IGDA board member Darius Kazemi resigned from his position despite being 3 days away from his term ending and Women In Games Boston withdrew their support. But the biggest story to come of this is Brenda Romero deciding to step down as co-chair of the IGDA Women in Games SIG.

Brenda has been a fierce and vocal supporter of female and LGBT presence in video games and in the gaming industry, and mere hours before the party she hosted a panel discussion titled #1reasontobe where she and five other female industry pros spoke on their experiences. We attended the panel and all five ladies had amazing things to say, so it’s very saddening to have that experience followed so soon by atavistic sexism. Brenda’s decision was hard, but she said in an interview with Polygon,

“I woke up to DMs, texts and links to news of the IGDA party. It really saddens me. I have been a long-time supporter of the IGDA. However, my silence would have been complicity. I had no choice. And just hours after our panel, too.”

IGDA Director Kate Edwards released a statement to try to distance themselves from the poor choice in entertainment:

“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.”

The response from YetiZen was less encouraging. When asked about the incident, CEO Sana Choudary told Kotaku (sic throughout),

“Reason for this unlike the people spreading this in the press now I actually have critical business meetings and milestones we need to hit next few days. Business success doesn’t come if I let every person with a bone take away my concentration from my key goals.”

Translation: I have more important things to do.

No hon, you don’t. Right now the most important thing to do is run damage control because two days ago no one knew anything about your company, but today everyone does and none of the attention is good. Your top priority is saving your company. The second most important thing is deciding what your next career move is going to be because I don’t see YetiZen surviving the fallout from this.

We are better than this. This is the Game Developers Conference, not the sleazy boat show from Showgirls. The average gamer is 30 and 47% of them are female, yet as an industry we still behave like we’re marketing to hormonal teenage boys even when marketing to each other. It’s encouraging that the response to this debacle has been swift and largely positive or apologetic. It’ll be even better when it doesn’t happen at all.

[via The Escapist, Forbes]

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About Christian Walters

(Writer) Christian lives in El Cerrito, CA which is close enough to San Francisco to count. When not busy being unimpressed by press releases and AAA hype, he spends his time singing, finding heavy things to pick up and put down, and occasionally going out on the town in naught but cowhide. He has worked in the industry with companies like Sega of America and Trion Worlds, and one day hopes to design a game of his very own.

8 Responses

  1. avatar nniicc00 says:

    I hate that the events panned out in this way, but I love the Showgirls reference!

  2. avatar Michael says:

    I’ve never seen anything wrong with female entertainers. So I myself don’t really understand why people get so angry over things like this. As far as I see, all they did wrong was not have male entertainers at the party as well. That certainly was sexist. I do like how the IGDA quickly apologized for having been with the guys who were so tackless though.

    Although I still see nothing wrong with female entertainers, having them at a business affair was terribly tacky. I’d never do business with them.

    • avatar Xiao Mao says:

      Spoken like a typical Narcissistic male.

      “Well, I’M OK with it, so it must be OK!”

      • avatar leap says:

        Spoken like a typical moron who fails to comprehend what they read and then insults people because they can’t come up with anything intelligent to say.

  3. avatar Nexus says:

    I agree with Michael.
    It’s silly to pretend that sex doesn’t sell. And acting like a woman dressed in an alluring way is something that is horribly wrong seems to send a wrong message as well IMO.
    But yeah, depending on how formal this party was, this showed rather poor taste.

  4. avatar Cyla says:

    Do you not realize this is a PROFESSIONAL EVENT, why were there any strippers involved in A PROFESSIONAL EVENT?! If you think strippers of any gender are part of the course for professional events then think again.

  5. avatar Erica says:

    Unless it is a bachelor’s party, there should never be any hiring of skimpily clad women to ‘entertain’ everyone with their boobs and dancing. They didn’t need to sell sex at this party, it was completely bad conduct and overall gross.

  6. avatar leap says:

    As Cyla said, this was supposed to be professional. There was no reason to have that kind of entertainment there, and it’s certainly made worse by the sexist element. Just bad taste and poor decisions all around.

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