It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was one of those times when the three gremlins in a trenchcoat controlling the E3 Twitter account tweeted something so insulting and ridiculous that all you can do is screenshot it and wait for it to be deleted.
At 11:37 a.m. ET this morning, the E3 Twitter account, which has over two million followers and is presumably controlled by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), a video game industry lobbying group, tweeted out “Great list of games women gamers are playing—any of your favorites make the cut?” It also linked to a recently published list over on Parade’s website of “25 Online Games That Women Enjoy.”
“Girls love gaming just as much as men,” it begins—ah yes, the two genders: girls and men—before going on to cite statistics from the ESA that nearly half of everyone who plays games are women. It continued, “While online games have no gender attached to them and many women enjoy everything from a puzzle quest to a sports match or fight-oriented game, there are some games that female players tend to gravitate toward.”
It was a fine list which included games like Sayonara Wild Hearts, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Overwatch, and Spelunky. You know. Woman games. It might have been better received if a good chunk of the list didn’t seem weighted toward reinforcing stereotypes that women, that well-known monolithic clique, would rather shuffle jewels or go dancing than blow off demons’ heads with a shotgun. “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend,” begins the entry for Bejeweled Classic. “Am I right ladies?”
It took the E3 tweet a little over an hour to pick up steam, at which point it was quickly ratioed. I don’t know the final count but at some point there were at least 6.9 thousand cumulative retweets and quote-tweets, a little over four times the number of likes. Nice.
At some point after that the tweet was deleted and E3 apologized. “We messed up,” the video game expo wrote. “We are taking down the post and apologize for perpetuating a harmful stereotype. We will do better.”
The original list of games for women was also taken down, or at least hidden in some way. A link for it embedded in a separate Parade list of “26 Best Games To Play With Friends For Fun While Social Distancing” (also a fine list) simply redirects back to the social distancing listicle.
The ESA did not immediately respond to a request for comment about who has been leading E3’s early 2010s-style Twitter presence. E3’s not-E3 appears to be going not-well.
Update - 9:51 p.m. ET, 8/19/20: A spokesperson for the ESA responded to Kotaku with the following statement:
We posted a story that does not reflect what we believe and know to be true—that women and girls make, play and excel in games of all genres. Video games are for everyone, as the unequivocal voice of the gaming community reminds us all.