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Microsoft, Misogyny and XBox

The latest launch and marketing of the Microsoft XBox leaves more than a little to be desired.  I think Cynthia Sharpe  summarizes the issue well in her letter that’s circulating through the interwebs this week. 

“Dear Microsoft,

I’m a gamer. I’m a gamer who happens to rock 2 X chromosomes. I have owned a computer since I was 5. I’m 40 now, so you can calculate just how freaking much of an early adopter family I’m part of. My husband is also a gamer and, perhaps unsurprisingly, so is our 10 year old son. Name the type of game, and we own it. From FPS to sandbox, side scroller to MMORPG, and just about everything in between. Our kid is part of the hyper wired generation, and while he can’t freakin remember to use shampoo when he showers, he remembers the screen names of every single one of his friends.

This ‘holiday season’, we’ll be buying a new console. But it’s going to be an upgrade of our PS. Because much as I, an experience designer, would love to get my mitts on a Kinect system, there is no way I am supporting your Interactive Entertainment Division by buying an Xbox. Guess what- it’s not about digital rights. It’s not about the short-sightedness of the mandatory online authentication, or the lack of back compatibility.

It’s about that division’s attitude towards women. Because as if perpetuating the stereotype of ha hah, women gamers, they suck, by setting a vastly unprepared female employee up against a producer wasn’t belittling enough; as if having a cavalcade of trailers without female protagonists wasn’t exclusionary enough; the rape crack he made certainly was horrible enough. I have a big enough fight on my hands vis-a-vis the rape culture, and raising a boy to be aware of what male privilege is, and arming him to never, ever perpetuate that kind of absolute bullshit. I don’t need to give money to a corporation that puts rape culture, puts anti-woman culture, right there, in the middle of the biggest forum they have.

“Yesterday, during the Xbox E3 briefing, one of our employees made an off the cuff and inappropriate comment while demoing ‘Killer Instinct’ with another employee.” The fact that your employee felt it was fine to make that kind of comment in the first place speaks volumes about your attitude towards 47% of the market.

Look at this kid in the picture. I’ve already told him why we will not be getting an Xbox this year. His response?

“I wouldn’t want to give them money anyway, if they think it’s okay to make fun of women because they’re women.”

With an absolute lack of respect,

PS: One small bright spot: with that ‘off the cuff’ and ‘offensive’ comment, you may have actually found a way to supplant Clippy as my most despised Microsoft entity.””

Of course the gaming community should know their own gaming association research that middle-aged women are one of their largest market segments – supposedly this is counter-intuitive since everyone thinks it’s just teen boys.  NOT.

Microsoft marketing really should enter the 21st Century.



Posted on: June 13, 2013, 10:30 am Category: Uncategorized

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