Get an Xbox One!

In attempt to advertise the Xbox One, Microsoft released an online letter that was meant to encourage non-gamers to buy the new consul. It was taken down after receiving criticism for being sexist. The letter was meant to be interactive allowing an individual to customize the underlined words. However, it’s the default setting that is a little shocking for our time. The very opening of the letter caused the most uproar. “I know, I know. You’d rather knit than watch me slay zombies, but hear me out on this.” Microsoft really couldn’t come up with a better choice for its default setting than to knit? Knitting is the quintessential stereotypical female hobby. That is the first indicator that lets you know this letter is directed to a woman; in other words, that only men play video games: first problem. Keeping in mind that this letter seems to be from a man to a woman, the fact that knitting is juxtaposed with slaying zombies in this instance also implies that women have no fun while their partners have all of it: second problem. It’s not comforting to know that women are still thought of as killjoys, as is implied by the desperately-sounding letter (there are three postscripts by the end). The header itself is a little bit questionable to me as well. “We got your back” sounds a lot like Microsoft is taking the man’s side. So basically, this ad says to me, “women need to stop sucking the fun out of everything, and let their partner have an Xbox One”—not very promising for a better society. But is any of this surprising? Video games are notorious for objectifying female characters, from body shapes to the clothing they wear. Regardless, if Microsoft wants to boast more female consumers, then it can’t send out these kinds of messages.


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