The infamous GDC booth (and attached babes)

I haven’t updated this blog in a while. I was planning to resume anyway and although this is an odd start, I feel the need to address the Glispa booth at GDC as well as the company response to it. You can read more about emails sent to Glispa and the CEO’s response here: Dear Indian Country.

When I walked the GDC Expo floor and saw the booth + babes, I was stunned. It was an amazing double shot of things you don’t expect to see at GDC. I walked about 200 yards before I decided I needed to say something.

I was equally grateful to see the booth babes covered up later on (first in jackets, and the next day in jeans and sweatshirts like the other folks working that booth). I realized the built-in tipi was beyond what they could change on-site, but I assumed people’s objections were heard. Based on Lin’s response, though, it sounds like they weren’t.

Here is the copy of an email I just sent to Gary Lin:

As someone who was at the show and saw your booth and who is also aware of your responses to several emails posted on the Woman Storyteller blog site (http://womanstoryteller.com/2014/03/20/dear-indian-country/), I feel the need to speak to you directly. I’m the person who first tweeted out an image of your booth (but not the women working in it because I respect their individual privacy) along with your corporate brochure.

My need to speak to you directly stems from a few of the things you asserted in those response emails. I disagree with your assertion that the complaint should have been to the company directly rather than in a more public manner. Your booth was displayed publicly–why should response to your booth not take the same approach?

I can say two things about the “hostesses”:

The fact that the women’s attire was supposed to look like a “sexy Indian girl” was not the only problem with them. They were “booth babes,” which many women feel are demeaning under any circumstances, especially at a professional (rather than consumer) conference.

and

I strongly suspect that the only reason you covered them up was because you were directed to by someone of authority who could point at the rule or rules you were breaking by having ANY booth babe on the floor of GDC.

This GDC had a lot of press well before the show about the advocacy track and diversity, especially about both racial diversity and the issues faced by women in game development (which includes the issues with booth babes at venues like E3). Doing a brief amount of research would have helped you understand how tone-deaf and inflammatory your booth and “hostesses” would appear at the conference.

Even beyond that, I’m hoping you’ll take the time to understand why your company’s branding offends people belonging to the cultures it misuses and stereotypes. While your corporate branding may seem challenging to change at this point, I think the cost of paying a graphic designer for a few weeks and the one time expense of changing your booth displays is worth the show of good faith it would demonstrate. I personally look forward to tweeting and blogging about those changes when you make them, and what it illustrates about your leadership and your company.

–Laralyn

 

 

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