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Denigrating Portrayals of Women are Common in Video Game Industry; Will Sexist Stance End?

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The video-game business has a long and troubled history of sexism and gender stereotypes. A round of scandals at multiple gaming companies offered a sad reminder that the industry has a lot more to do to fix its culture and, eventually, repair its reputation.But the situation isn't hopeless.

As a hit release from Sony shows, there is a big market for games that portray women as smart and resourceful actors rather than as pawns, victims and objects of male desire.An incident at a conference about a decade ago has become the poster child for the industry's cultural issues. “I love the fact you have a lot of very strong female characters,” a woman said to an all-male panel of developers from Activision Blizzard Inc., maker of megahits World of Warcraft and Call of Duty. “However, I was wondering if we can have some that don't look like they stepped out of a Victoria's Secret catalog.” A smattering of applause was quickly drowned out by a sea of boos.

Instead of defending her, the developers ridiculed her suggestion.Despite an outcry at the time, the industry continued to struggle with hostile attitudes toward women.

After Microsoft Corp. hosted a party five years ago with scantily clad female dancers on platforms, head of Xbox Phil Spencer was forced to apologize.

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