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IGDA apologizes for dancers at GDC party, hopes to reconcile with resigned members

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The International Game Developers Association apologized today for the female dancers at its Game Developers Conference party last night, and said that it hopes that the IGDA members who resigned will return.

"Both the costumes and activities witnessed at the party — we apologize and agree," said Kate Edwards, IGDA executive director, during the organization's annual meeting today. "It doesn't agree with our core values as an organization."

The IGDA has come under fire for the party, which it co-hosted with startup accelerator YetiZen, because of the scantily clad female dancers who performed there, as reported by a Forbes contributor. In the wake of the report, two IGDA board members, including noted game designer Brenda Romero, and leaders of two other groups affiliated with the organization — the Chicago chapter of the IGDA, and Women in Games Boston — said today that they have cut ties with it.

"We regret the reactions they've given us. We do hope they continue to work with the IGDA; we'd hate to lose their participation, but they react how they want to react," Edwards told Polygon in a Q&A following the meeting. "It's their decision but we hope they continue to work with us in the future."

Asked about reconciling with Romero and the other people who have resigned or distanced themselves from the IGDA, Edwards said, "We are open to it. We do need them now more than ever."

"It doesn't agree with our core values as an organization"

Edwards added, "Basically, what we need is participation and dialogue. We would love to have people members of our organization to speak up on our things — speak up, give us advice on these things. We need to know what we can do to do a better job in the future."

Edwards also explained how the event was planned. According to Edwards, YetiZen approached the IGDA to do the party, and she said the IGDA agreed "mainly because we were provided oversight." However, said Edwards, "We did not see the costumes of the stilt walkers during the party; we didn't know any of the performers would be doing anything on the stage or brought on the stage; we didn't even know the models would be at the party, necessarily."

According to the description of the party on the IGDA website, the party performers were "all vetted by the IGDA."

"Unfortunately not all content at the party was passed by us," said Edwards, "and [YetiZen] also agreed to follow the IGDA code of conduct." The IGDA's Code of Ethics can be found on its website.

In the future, said Edwards, the IGDA needs to find sponsors and not co-host with other organizations that may have differing views on what's appropriate for an IGDA event. Edwards added that in this case, "We had a sponsor lined up with a soft commitment that backed out at the last minute and left us in a situation."

"We realize we make mistakes sometimes; we want to make sure all our programs and activities are inclusive and professional."

Alexa Ray Corriea and Megan Farokhmanesh contributed to this report.

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