Technology

Microsoft's Xbox boss apologises for go-go dancer party

Xbox go-go dancers Image copyright Twitter / Kamina Vincent
Image caption The party was hosted as part of Xbox's Game Developers Conference in San Francisco

The head of Microsoft's Xbox has apologised after the company hosted a party for computer games developers that featured podium performances by female go-go dancers.

The evening event in San Francisco was held on the same day as a Microsoft-sponsored "women in games" lunch.

The dancers were dressed in short skirts and crop tops.

Phil Spencer said it was "unequivocally wrong", after attendees took to social media to complain.

The event took place during a week-long conference for developers creating games for Xbox.

Pushed out

"I like dancing, I like talking to dev[eloper]s. But not at this party. Thanks for pushing me out of this party, Microsoft.," tweeted Kamina Vincent, an editor at the Tin Man Games studio, based in Australia.

Ms Vincent said it was the first time she had felt unwelcome at a games event.

She told the Huffington Post one of the dancers had said she had been hired to "speak with attendees and encourage them to the dance floor".

As in much of the tech sector, the number of women who work in the computer game industry remains low.

In 2015, the Association for UK Interactive Entertainment said 14% of the UK workforce and 22% of the global workforce were women.

However, some people disagreed the party organisers had made a mistake.

Image copyright Twitter / Kamina Vincent
Image caption Microsoft said the dancers were "not aligned to our values".

"Go-go dancers are not strippers," tweeted Gerris Digital.

In a staff email, also published online, Mr Spencer wrote: "It has come to my attention that at Xbox-hosted events at GDC [Game Developers Conference] this past week, we represented Xbox and Microsoft in a way that was absolutely not consistent or aligned to our values.

"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."

Microsoft parties have featured go-go dancers in the past.

"Microsoft Techset party has red-lace go-go dancers on the roof," tweeted Omar L in 2010.

"Um, there are go-go dancers in Day-Glo bikinis at the Microsoft holiday party," tweeted Iain Kennedy in 2011.

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