Fan Booed At Blizzcon 2010 Q&A Reflects on the Reaction from Developers and Fans
The woman who asked the question about female diversity in a recently-resurfaced 2010 Blizzcon Q&A has spoken up about the experience, reflecting on the crowd booing her, the unsatisfactory replies from the developers, and why the interaction is back in the news due to the lawsuit.
The woman, who has chosen to go by her World of Warcraft handle, Xantia, told
that her question was largely inspired by the introduction of the character Alexstrasza - and her bikini armor outfit - during Wrath of the Lich King.
"I love what you have done with World of Warcraft. I love that you have a lot of very strong female characters. However, I was wondering if we could have some that don't look like they've stepped out of a Victoria Secret's catalogue?"
Instead of addressing her question properly, the all-male panel laughed at the question, with Alex Afrasiabi stating that they would "pick different catalogues" for female characters to step out of. Men can also be heard in the audience loudly booing Xantia for asking the question.
The question was an entirely valid one, especially back in 2010. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with a sexy female character, or one who dresses in skimpy armor, it does become a problem when all female characters are presented this way - as they largely were at the time - while male characters get to be far more diverse, or else based on a
male power fantasy
while female characters are restricted to a male sexual fantasy. It suggests that the men writing these characters do not really see women as people, but rather as objects - a suggestion that's only backed up with the
revelations of a bro culture at Activision Blizzard in which female employees were routinely objectified and harassed by male employees like Alex Afrasiabi
Several days after the lawsuit news broke, this clip of Xantia asking her question at BlizzCon 2010 went viral on Twitter, as many players thought it exemplified the "boys club" mentality in the lawsuit. While the experience of seeing press coverage for a question she asked 11 years ago has been surreal, Xantia can also understand why it's gained such attention - the fact is, sexism remains a deeply rooted problem in the gaming industry.
“It’s hard to have your voice heard when there are that many guys setting the tone,” Xantia said. “I think that’s one of the reasons why that video has gone viral. It just exemplifies so much of what’s wrong right now with the industry at large. There is me being utterly dismissed by a panel of men who run the company and at the same time having a small, small group of women in the audience cheer and then that immediately being drowned out by men booing.”
Xantia also mentioned how it was the hostility from men in the crowd that got to her most.
“Honestly, the sound of being booed by that many guys, in some ways that bothered me more than getting dismissed,” she said. “You had that initial cheer from the women in the crowd and then just a wave of boos.”
Xantia also seems less than impressed with the
recent comments from Greg Street, aka Ghostcrawler
, who was one of the men on the panel, and who took to Twitter to express regret with how he handled the question at the time.
“I guess Greg Street now knows who I am now. Cool. OK. And also that wasn’t really an apology, but sure you do you. Whatever gets you to sleep at night,” she said. “I was joking with a friend when I saw it, when I saw everything he was writing about that, just, you know, ‘Oh, I couldn’t see her react, I couldn’t see her face’ and how he’s disappointed in all of these things. Yeah, but your ears were working just fine. Did you not hear hundreds of people booing me? What would it have taken to say, ‘Hey, guys, come on, that’s not cool’? “Whenever you start explaining yourself to that degree, it stops being an apology.”
The interview ended on a positive note, with Xantia expressing support for the women who are coming forward with their stories of harassment and poor working conditions at Blizzard, and a hope that her question going viral might help bring about a positive change.
“I’ve gotten a moderate amount of attention for all this when I’m only tangentially connected to it,” she said. “I think the important voices are for the women who were actually at Blizzard who have had to endure far, far more than just being dismissed at a convention.”
“There are worse reasons to go viral. And if this helps to actually bring about change then that would be something profoundly good that came out of a pretty small, but still shitty moment.”
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