gdc 2013

Exotic Dancers Cause IGDA Resignations

by Adam Biessener on Mar 28, 2013 at 11:00 AM

The employment of female exotic dancers at an International Game Developers Association at a party during this week's Game Developers Conference has caused high-profile members of the trade group to resign in protest.

Most notably, Brenda Romero, an experienced and respected game developer whose resume stretches all the way back to Wizardry and Jagged Alliance, resigned her position with the IGDA this afternoon in response to the organization's use of scantily clad female dancers at an industry party in San Francisco.

"I went home last night to work on my Friday GDC talk feeling super uplifted by the turnout and support for the #1ReasonToBe panel," Romero told 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 executive director Kate Edwards responded via statement (thanks, GamePolitics):

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.

Highly sexualized female models and dancers have been used to sell games at trade shows and industry parties since such things existed in the male-dominated video game industry. Such actions have recently come under fire from women within the industry, and much of the sexism that runs rampant through gamer communities, developers, and publishers has been named and shamed under the #1reasonwhy hashtag on Twitter.

The simple fact that this conversation is happening and not being swept under the rug as it has for so many years is a huge step toward gender equality and respect for women in gaming. The industry still has a long way to go, but thankfully we have pioneers like Romero to lead the way.