Attack On Gaming (in the) Media: Xbox One Letter Controversy


This week has been a pretty terrible one for the marketing team over at Microsofts Xbox division. In case you’ve missed the controversy, the main issue taken here is that Microsoft have misrepresented a large population of humans by stating that one party should stop the knitting to play video games with the other party that is already playing videogames. Sounds silly doesn’t it?

And that’s because it is. It is unbelievably silly. In no way does the advertisement make any kind of reference to any kind of discrimination towards any other person, other than the person knitting. Who is this person knitting? It could be a man, it could be a woman, heck it could be some knitting God from the knitting universe of knitting gods. However, this hasn’t stopped a number of angry social media junkies from lashing out against the company, calling them misogynistic, and forcing them to take down the advertisement.

Microsoft seem to have pulled this advertisement for fear of reprisal from easily offended fanatics, but the post linked here goes into details about the controversy. We’ll quote the parts that have people offended below.

Hey honey […] I know, I know, you’d rather knit than watch me slay zombies, but hear me out […] It just so happens that Xbox One has the best multiplayer service that filters out jerks. So don’t you worry […] p.s. Did I mention how beautiful you are?

For reference, the parts we’ve emboldened can be swapped out for any number of other words, but the defaults just happen to have fallen onto a sarcastic few words, that when used closely together, happen to hit the rage buttons on people. From the looks of things, it wasn’t intended to be offensive, but just as a lame marketing joke.

To be completely honest, just reading that excerpt doesn’t lead me to believe that they’re referencing a man groveling to his woman, but I do read things in my head in a female voice. Maybe that’s part of the issue really, not so much the head reading, but peoples imaginations.

I mean, really, what do these claims about misogyny say about the people making these claims? Why do these people automatically assume that knitting is only a hobby that women would pick up? As supposition, there’re are probably plenty of attractive male cosplayers that would take offence to being called women.

As a society, it seems like we’re more geared to seeing men as aggressors and women as supplicants. If you look at this particular poor excuse for marketing in the sarcastic tone that it’s intended to be read in, it isn’t a stretch that you could picture it as being aggressive. Once you take into account that people may or may not have the imaginary aggressor in their head as male, it is then possible that the message will seem misogynistic to those people.

Another reason as to why this could be seen as to be misogynistic is that some of the words and items correspond to what many people will regard as feminine hobbies. However, as a gamer, I can only say that those hobbies listed are lame hobbies for lamers. We’re certain that both male and female gamers will agree here. Cosplayers may disagree. Cosplayers are not lamers though.

Our main issue with this piece, if it hasn’t been made entirely clear at this point, is that the Microsoft advertisement wasn’t misogynistic, it was just poorly executed. It was also lame, but it was lame in a poorly executed way. The advertisement clearly never intended to marginalize anyone cool, definitely not women, but was instead meant to entertain by making gaming look cooler than anything else, by using lame hobbies as examples.

An example of this being misogynistic would be something like:

Hey honey,

As the AVERAGE MALE GAMER, I know that you would rather be READING TABLOID MAGAZINES AND BITCHING ABOUT YOUR BOYFRIEND than WATCHING ME BANG DIGITAL WOMEN IN THIS GAME ABOUT DICKGIRLS. But hear me out, it just happens the Xbox One has the best Multiplayer service, ever, of all time, for PEOPLE WITH PENISES ONLY. Girls need not apply. Hahahahahahaha!

Notice the stereotypes that are easily identifiable and offensive. Not to mention, taking incredible liberty to make sure the difference between gender is readily apparent. Also of note: the above example does not represent our views on anything, it serves only to act as an example of legitimate misogynistic behaviour.

In the end, Microsoft should have stuck to their guns instead of removing the ad, the defaults or whatever else they did. Everyone else needs to calm the fuck down, stop agenda pushing and just have fun with the page. Nobody is out to hurt you or your feelings. That is all.

Links used in research:

Question: What voice do you read things in your head with? When visualising an aggressor, are they male or female?

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  • KuchikiSentou

    Anybody can knit; anybody can be beautiful

    • Gaming Admiral