During Microsoft‘s live demonstration of Killer Instinct at E3, Torin Rettig used video game banter when playing against Ashton “Vulcan” Williams, that some deemed potentially offensive or off-color. He used phrases such as, “Here we go,” “Just let it happen,” and “It’ll be over soon.”
While most gamers would recognize this as merely a competitive exchange, there was a minority that found his phrases referenced offensive “rape jokes.” From the overall response by the audience, most of the live viewers found the comments relatively entertaining.
Microsoft made this reply to the accusations:
“Yesterday, during the Xbox E3 briefing, one of our employees made an off the cuff and inappropriate comment while demoing ‘Killer Instinct’ with another employee. This comment was offensive and we apologize. At Microsoft, being open and respectful with others is central to our code of conduct and our values. Bullying and harassment of any kind is not condoned and is taken very seriously. We remain committed to make gaming fun for everyone, and in that effort, we must lead by example.”
While the literal act of rape is something that is truly disgusting, and should never be joked about, the term is used, or referenced, quite frequently in the online gaming world, but is meant to describe “owning” an opponent. This term, or similar ones, are used by both genders online and the idea that misogyny is running rampant in the gaming world is rather inaccurate, as female gamers often use just as offensive terms as male gamers.
When confronted with how she felt about the exchange, Williams commented, “The demo included friendly ad-libbed banter and there was no ill intent. Torin and I are friends.” As as member of Clan PMS, Williams adheres to their zero tolerance policy on the use or reference to the word “rape.”
Whether or not this exchange was inappropriate is still open for debate, but we have to remember that this was a demonstration of an extremely violent video game, for an audience of gamers. The context of the situation needs to be understood, and video game players tend to have a higher tolerance for what might be considered offensive content. If you have an opinion about this event, or Microsoft‘s response, feel free to discuss below.