Microsoft Guilty of Poor Taste? (Video)

Microsoft guilty of poor taste?
Microsoft has come under fire again. This time they’ve been accused of making a rape joke. Apparently that is how the live stream viewing audience perceived some “light-hearted” banter onstage during a game demo. We have put a video of the demonstration below so you can judge for yourself, if Microsoft are making a “rape joke” or not.

Toren, the male producer of the game Killer Instinct was matched up against another Microsoft member, who happened to be a woman named Ashton. Apparently the company pitted the producer against someone who isn’t use to that type of video game. Or is she?

The Atlantic Wire described said that the woman was “playing a video game like a girl” which suggests that the the scenario was scripted to feed the stereotype that women are not serious gamers, or even very serious competition.

Once the two started playing the dialogue went like this:

“I can’t even block correctly, and you’re too fast,” Ashton says.

“Here we go. Just let it happen. It’ll be over soon,” Toren says.

The audience responded well that remark, but here is where apparently some people’s imagination ran a bit amok. The suggestion is that this was a “rape” joke. The next few lines in the two competitors adds a bit more fuel to the fire.

“You have a fight stick,” Ashton says.

“Wow, you like those,” Toren says.

“No, I don’t like this,” Aston says.

Twitter exploded while this exchange was going on. Many jumped on to tweet their displeasure on the bantering between the two competitors.

@Vahn16 tweeted, “Wow. This is really gross. Male overpowering a female in a game, so of course, rape joke. Good one, Msoft,”

@IatosHaunted tweeted, “Oh my god. One of the people just made a rape joke onstage and the audience actually liked it. That’s sick,”

@stillgray tweeted, “Even if it was unintentional, Microsoft should’ve realized they shouldn’t make a rape joke in an environment already toxic with misogyny,”

@Jonathan_Blow tweeted, “Let’s bring a woman on stage and joke about how she’s bad at games, and say stuff like ‘relax, just let it happen, it’ll be over soon’??”

Killer Instinct is produced by Rare Ltd.,the company is a subsidiary of Microsoft Studios. There have been allegations that the scenario was scripted but Microsoft have denied it, point bland.

A Microsoft spokesperson released a statement to that said, “The comments in question during the ‘Killer Instinct’ demo were not scripted. The demo was meant to include friendly gameplay banter, and there was no ill intent.”

Microsoft apologized for the behavior of their employee and issued another statement from the Microsoft Studios corporate vice president Phil Spencer which read, “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. This comment was offensive and we apologize. At Microsoft, being open and respectful with others is central to our code of conduct and our values. Bullying and harassment of any kind is not condoned and is taken very seriously. We remain committed to make gaming fun for everyone, and in that effort, we must lead by example.”

The games industry has been attempting for the last five years to get more women into the industry and the games industry itself has been battling the problem of sexism for years. But the percentage of female gamers continues to rise. According to the Entertainment Software Association roughly 47 percent of gamers are women.

This steady rise of female gamers is the reason that the industry is desperate to get more women on board to help new games appeal to both sexes as the industry moves forward. One of the biggest names in the industry is Jade Raymond who is a Canadian video game executive and the Managing Director of Ubisoft Toronto.

Ms Raymond is the person responsible for one of the most popular franchises in the industry right now, Assassin’s Creed.

Microsoft have been quick to downplay any further negativity. After their almost suicidal Xbox One reveal that left most fans of the console gasping, they don’t don’t need anything else to dampen their product. It does seem though, that the audience was seeing something that wasn’t there.

Had they stopped tweeting about Microsoft’s apparent poor taste, they would have seen the rest of the demonstration where the woman, Ashton went on to clean producer Toren’s clock in round two of Killer Instinct. It definitely wasn’t meant in a “sexual” way and not intended to bring the act of rape to mind, it was part of an overall demonstration.

Whether is was scripted or an “off-the-cuff” improvisation isn’t the point. The audience watching the stream of the demo couldn’t even wait for it to end before jumping on Twitter and pointed outraged fingers.

Microsoft may be guilty of short-changing their fan-base on the issue of second hand games and, perhaps, even poor taste, but inappropriate rape jokes? I don’t think so. But have a look at the video and see what you think.

By Michael Smith