Microsoft made waves with its debut of the Xbox One console at E3 on Monday, but one part of its demonstration has been widely criticized. At one point in the keynote presentation, an employee appeared to make a rape joke toward a female employee as an example of “friendly” trash talk.
While showcasing the upcoming “Killer Instinct,” Microsoft brought out a woman to play against a male game producer, who taunted her by saying she should “let it happen, it’ll be over soon.”
“You have a fight stick!,” she said as he continued to beat her in the game.
“You like this!” he responded.
“No, I don’t like this!” she replied.
Many in the audience laughed at the exchange, while viewers on Twitter remarked that the "trash talk" veered remarkably close to a joke about rape. Some gaming news outlets like Kotaku avoided specifically referring to the incident as a rape joke, but noted that Microsoft’s act was awkward and forced at best.
Other online reaction to Microsoft’s rape joke was decidedly negative. Jonathan Blow, designer for the hit indie game Braid, remarked that the conversation was remarkably distasteful and far too similar to a rape joke for comfort.
"Let's bring a woman on stage and joke about how she's bad at games, and say stuff like 'relax, just let it happen, it'll be over soon??’” he tweeted. “‘Relax and try to enjoy it, it'll be over soon’ is classic bad male advice to potential female rape victims.”
"I am not sure how it was not a rape joke. I mean, it was a joke (laughter from audience)," he continued. “If it wasn’t at least vaguely about rape, then what was funny about the sentence?”
In response to the controversy, a Microsoft spokesman told Kotaku that the remarks were not scripted and did not mean to convey any "ill intent."
“The comments in question during the 'Killer Instinct' demo were not scripted," he said. "The demo was meant to include friendly gameplay banter and there was there was no ill intent.”
Watch the full video of the Microsoft rape joke controversy below.
Eric Brown is an IBTimes reporter who eats far too much pizza. He is a graduate of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, and currently resides in Brooklyn.