Last weekend's office holiday party at Gameloft Montreal featured one giant circus performance, complete with acrobats, stilts, and... topless women, according to a few sources.
This made at least one attendee rather uncomfortable.
I first heard about the party last week, after seeing a tweet by Montreal-based game designer Michel McBride-Charpentier:
It seems that there were at least a couple of eyebrow-raising Christmas parties in the Montreal scene. While we haven't heard much more about the Warner Brothers one, I've gotten in touch with one attendee at the Gameloft party, who spoke to me under condition of anonymity. According to that attendee, there were several women wearing nothing but g-strings and body paint that "looked like armor with [their] boobs showing."
"When they were done, the girls basically went through the crowd, partying, I guess, with people," the attendee told me. "They were taking poses so people could get pictures of them, and they were 'dancing.' (I'm putting [quotes] because to me it was clear those girls got paid to make their boobs bounce around.) They were jumping around, and when they saw each other, they would make sexy poses and dance together, almost grinding each other."
GameLoft is the popular developer/publisher of many top mobile games, including Modern Combat and My Little Pony. While we didn't attend the party and haven't seen images from it, we have asked the company for their side of the story. We'll let you know when we hear back.
Update: Gameloft has responded to our request for comment, telling us that they expelled the topless women from the party.
According to the attendee, some people at the party made comments about how inappropriate it was. Some attendees danced with the topless women. Others tried to ignore them.
"I have to say I really was not very comfortable with the situation," the attendee said. "I did not feel [like Gameloft respected] the female employees there. I feel they were not taken into consideration at all. I could not believe that this idea was given AND approved by someone."
"When a company encourages these kinds of things, how are we supposed to tell men in the company that women working with them are serious, intelligent people?"
The attendee went on. "I also felt that it was inappropriate. You know, if the social committee organised an activity to a strip club, it would be weird but at least you would know where you're going. The holiday party, you go there thinking of having a nice time with the people you work with, and you end up with naked girls around you, that is the last thing I was expecting and I felt it was imposed on me.
"I feel quite sad about this, because I know that companies struggle to have girls working for them, at least they say so ... but this kind of behavior makes me feel that it's not really true. That they do not really want it that much. I feel that if a company that does that tries to hire me, I will probably decline their offer since to them women are still objects that are only good to look at. I am pretty sure some girls/women would think about it twice if they heard about something like this."
In a male-dominated industry like gaming, where females still often feel uncomfortable or out-of-place because of their gender, situations like this can just make things worse.
"I think it's already pretty hard to be taken seriously as a female in this industry," the attendee said. "A teacher used to tell me, 'As a man in the video game industry, you have respect until you lose it. As a woman in the video game industry, you have no respect until you gain it.' When a company encourages these kinds of things, how are we supposed to tell men in the company that women working with them are serious, intelligent people? How are we supposed to tell our players that the girls playing with them are not only good to look at?
"On top of that, as a human being (male or female) I think it is just inappropriate. It is a holiday party, at work. There are some things that are acceptable in a work environment and some that are not. This is not acceptable. The company would not accept pictures of naked women on the walls, why would it accept naked women at a Christmas party? You would not see these kinds of things in any other holiday party, in another industry!
"Overall, I was uncomfortable, but also pretty [annoyed] that some money was actually spent on that, when it could've been on something that everyone could enjoy (more food? magicians? I don't know, something else!)"
Image: Andjelka Simic/Shutterstock