Two Game Developers Quit Non-Profit, Object To Female Dancers At Party

Two Game Developers Quit Non-Profit, Object To Female Dancers At Party

At least two members of the International Game Developers Association have resigned from their positions. This follows a San Francisco party Tuesday night during which scantily clad women reportedly made some attendees feel uncomfortable.

Forbes blogger Carol Pinchefsky wrote about the party yesterday, describing a scene where women in skimpy shirts and costumes danced on stage. Student Alicia Avril told Forbes that she attended the party and wasn’t too psyched about it. “You’d think that the IGDA would be more thoughtful in their own party and how they’re portraying themselves,” Avril said.

The IGDA is one of the major trade groups in the game development scene. This party was timed to the Game Developers’ Conference, one of the biggest gatherings of game creators in the United States. You can see a photo from the party right here.

Today, IGDA board member Darius Kazemi said he was resigning from his position in the wake of this news. Designer Brenda Romero also said she would step down from her chair position in the non-profit organisation.

“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 said in a statement e-mailed to Kotaku. “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.”

The International Game Developers Association is a non-profit organisation that helps game developers across the country collaborate and network. They put together this party in collaboration with a start-up called YetiZen, which took some heat last year for a similar fiasco.

“I had massive reservations using YetiZen as our sponsor the second year in a row after they burned us last year by using scantily clad women,” Kazemi wrote on Twitter today. “But I did not speak up about them internally because I did not want to rock the boat with like, 2 weeks left in my term. For that: I’m sorry.”

I reached out to both YetiZen and the IGDA for comment this afternoon. We’ll update if we hear back from them.

UPDATE: YetiZen CEO Sana Choudary has responded saying that her company will have a statement on Saturday. Why the delay? Choudary’s email to Kotaku: “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.”

UPDATE: IGDA director Kate Edwards has also sent over a statement:

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.


  • Considering these women were there voluntarily and getting paid for it it’s hardly demeaning. If anything the power balance is in their favour. Some people really need to get a grip.

    EDIT: After showing wifey and asking what she thought, she promptly declared anyone objecting to that as “idiotic”.

    • Yea this issue is veering off-course. Did anyone getting their knickers in a bunch (waiting for someone to call me out for being sexist now) take into account the variables of the situation? It’s a club-atmosphere, there’s a bar and music. This is just a cheap promotional prop that is used in any instance that features these same variables… =/

  • wtf? All this political correctness etc is stupid. If u get offended so what? get over it

    I find it offensive people are offended by this. Clothed women dancing? nothing wrong with that.

  • I’m a little divided on this, but not for the whole “objectification” thing (because that wasn’t an issue, considering the dancers were fully dressed). One line in the Forbes link says:
    Even if they were dancing in a PG-13 manner, they’re still detracting from the purpose of the event: a professional gathering.
    I agree, but I disagree. Yes, it was a professional gathering for people to meet, mingle, and network. However, without some form of entertainment it would be an extremely boring event, so people probably wouldn’t want to go. I guess it depends though. I’ve been to professional gatherings which have been held in a pub. Was the inclusion of alcohol detracting from the purpose of the event? I don’t think so. Everyone seemed quite happy to talk and get to know everyone. Would the inclusion of some dancers be another distraction? Again, I don’t think so because people were there not for the dancers, but to meet other professionals.

  • We love to point and laugh at Fox news and conservative organisations at how much they misunderstand and attempt to stifle the growth of gaming.

    Then in the space of a year, the gaming community lose their collective shit over:
    Scantily clad bad guys in a trailer for a mature rated game!
    Murdering lawless mercenary who hasn’t seen a women in years stands over a heroine in a threatening manner!
    Rapists and murderers call Catwoman a bitch and other not-nice names!
    Industry members behave normally when seeing paid, clothed dancers – dancing!

    Tell me – would the film industry sabotage itself in this way?

    • The film industry doesn’t have booth babes at their events to promote their products. They’re bigger than that.

  • It’s important to look at the broader issue of women at games conventions. I’m not referring to the female developers and journalists and enthusiasts; I’m talking about the “booth babes” and equivalents. Having random women dancing here is like having random women posing at booths: they are there for the benefit of the “straight male” demographic. If that wasn’t the intent, why weren’t male dancers hired too?

  • Well I think we’re past the whole having sexy eye candy (clothed or otherwise) as a trope in the gaming community. Professionally at least they really are trying to move ahead – as evidenced by PAX, E3, etc discouraging booth girls. I think they overreacted by quitting, but I don’t think it’s overreaction to point out that the entertainment piece is yet again – from the sounds of it – there to titillate with sex appeal.

    There is a time and place for this of course, and yes the girls are getting paid and not exploited, but I suppose this just clashes badly with a lot of people’s views about where the industry’s image should be heading.

    Personally I’m more affronted that they normally hire entertainers with zilch credibility when it comes to games, clothes or no.

  • It is a sensitive time in the industry and i think a lot of the ire comes from the sheer ignorance of some, not necessarily the content of the show. The idea that stuff like Hitman was pitchforked by idiots and again, the dancers at E3 were suddenly too much this year. I’m not denying that there’s a culture of sexism in games but i really don’t think pointing your finger at every single little thing is even close to a reasonable response to these situations. I always thought open discussion was the way forward but that really doesn’t seem to be the case. We’ve had cowardly, vengeful articles on here that both patronize every male reading it while making value judgements. What disgusts me is that no male is ever considered in the articles or complaints, pretending like the other gender doesn’t have a say is exactly what got us here in the first place and now all the champions of gender equality are trying to ensure it by using the same cowardly tactics. People seem to want understanding but not at the cost of doing anything, there’s no attempt at education or discussion towards the offending parties, just a bunch of finger-pointing and complaining. I’m not sure how so many industry professionals seem to think patronizing people and villianizing them into getting what they want instead of treating a sensitive issue with compassion, understanding and open discussion is a way to true equality.

  • One of the core values of the IGDA is encouraging inclusion and diversity.

    So, next year, make sure to hire male dancers as well.

  • I’ll bite.

    This industry is sexist. As a straight male you probably won’t see it. But I can assure you it is. And why aren’t there more women involved? Because of issues like this. I agree with posters above – why not have scantily dressed men dancing as well? If not, then stop it with the sexualising of women.

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