Communication: A reflection on the Microsoft press conference

The weight of your words impacts others every time you use them no matter where you are or who you are talking to. This includes the internet. There has been the continued belief that the separation of an electronically powered screen removes the impetus of ones words whether you are in the same room or across the world from one another. It isn’t true and never has been.

It was highly relevant Monday during a Killer Instinct promo at the Microsoft Press Conference where what have long been considered “rape jokes” along with blatant sexual innuendos where Killer Instinct Producer Torrence says,”Wow you like this” and Communications Director Ashton, one of the only female speakers at the Microsoft Press Conference says, “No, I don’t like this” then drops her controller down to one hand as he finishes her off. They were feet from each other separated by electronic devices yet, the awkwardness from the “banter” was still visible to me half the nation away in Austin, Tx. Ashtons’ defeat was obviously scripted to showcase new additions to the Xbox franchise. They played again, Ashton defeated Torrence and banter was very light with Ashton saying, “Maybe I should be a producer.”

Gaming is a very influential industry, full of intelligent people. Why have we yet to fully figure out that “rape jokes” are flat out inappropriate? Along with jokes about homosexuality, race, gender, disability, class, and anything that degrades an individual for who they are. Why are we making fun of each other for who we are? We as an industry and as players are and have been better than this since the creation of the industry. Have we allowed our insecurities to supersede our better selves? I have no other answers for why we have continued to allow this to continue to happen for so long other than game play having turned into a community of enablers. It is not and never has been appropriate to do something just because everyone else, your friend, or your icon did it or is doing it.

[Also read: Why “Just Let it Happen, It’ll Be Over Soon” Is a Rape Joke, and Extremely Problematic]

Companies have also long held this belief that if they establish rules in their communities that “clean up” unhealthy behavior to create healthier communities that they will lose all of their players. This is actually not true. Why are you enabling a handful of bullies to run your community? If you create a healthy community for all, by listening to all of your community (including your potential community), after you create a healthier environment you will more than be compensated for doing so, and your community will grow exponentially.

As a female I don’t want to play in a community online where I know I’m going to be harassed. I’d personally prefer a healthy community where I know I’m going to enjoy myself. Companies are responsible for the communities and the environments they create. You establish the guidelines and rules for communication. Having excellent community directors and managers changes everything.

Healthy and positive communities ensure healthy and positive people!


The Pledge:

As a gamer, I realize I contribute to an incredibly diverse social network of gamers around the world, and that my actions have the ability to impact others. In effort to make a positive impact, and to create a community that is welcoming to all, I pledge to not use bigoted language while gaming, online and otherwise.

Bigoted language includes, but is not limited to, slurs based on race? (e.g, "chink," "nigger," "wetback"), ethnicity? (e.g., "kyke," "polock"), gender? (e.g., "cunt," "bitch," "tranny"), religion? (e.g., "dirty jew," "papist"), sexual orientation? (e.g., "gay," "fag[got]," "dyke"), and disability? (e.g., "retard[ed]").

Read more about the pledge, including what is and isn't included, and the overall purpose here.

Read why you shouldn't use the word "rape" casually here.

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