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IGDA approved 'all entertainment and related promotion' for controversial GDC party, YetiZen CEO says (update)

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The International Game Developers Association approved "all entertainment and related promotion" for a controversial GDC 2013 party, according to a post from Sana Choudary, CEO of party co-host and organizer YetiZen.

IGDA became the subject of criticism following a GDC 2013 party, which featured scantily clad women, who some believed to be hired dancers. IGDA members, including game designer Brenda Romero, resigned in response.

Choudary's statement includes a screenshot of an email apparently from IGDA's executive director Kate Edwards, in which she approved the attire.

"If the final outfit is like this, I think it's fine; it's modest enough without the midriff showing, etc," Edwards' email reads.

The screenshot does not offer context on the attire that Edwards approved, and she later issued an official apology, writing that the controversial activities did not "agree with our core values as an organization."

"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," Edwards said on Thursday.

Choudary writes that YetiZen did not hire dancers, but rather "gamer-models."

"YetiZen did not hire dancers," an excerpt from her post reads. "We hired avid gamers, who happened to be models, to discuss gaming with the invited guests. The YetiZen team (myself, my co-founder, and our resident artist) were invited by the rappers, along with our gamer-models, to dance for a few minutes on stage."

Choudary's statement also contains information about YetiZen and biographical information, included to demonstrate her "commitment to making great games and providing equal opportunity to game creators of all genders."

"I am the founder and CEO of YetiZen," she wrote. "I'm also an immigrant from Kuwait and Pakistan, a female games industry executive, and an avid supporter of female success in all areas of business and life. I'm familiar with fighting for my voice to be heard."

We've reached out to Kate Edwards for her response and will update this story as more information becomes available.

Update: IGDA executive director Kate Edwards told Polygon that the organization did not see or approve all of the costumes worn at the party.

"The IGDA was a co-presenter of the YetiZen party Tuesday evening at GDC," Edwards wrote. "Yes, we approved some of the costumes. We did not see the costumes of the stilt walkers. We did not know that any of the performers would be doing things on a stage.

"We agree that some of the performers at the party engaged in activities that were not appropriate. We apologize for that. The IGDA does not intentionally condone activities that objectify or demean women or any other group of people. One of the core values of the organization is encouraging inclusion and diversity. That certainly means we would not want anyone attending an IGDA-sanctioned event to be uncomfortable in any way with what activity was going on."

Update 2: Choudary's original post said that Brenda Romero, the designer who resigned in the wake of the party, had previously threatened to "destroy" the organization. An amended version of Choudary's statement now reads, "After our party last year Brenda Romero personally called us and threatened to Personally call all of YetiZen's mentors, advisors, and investors and tell them to quit their support of YetiZen." Eds. note: [Eds: As of publication, the capitalization and emphasis appears in the original document.]

Romero told Polygon that she spoke with a representative at YetiZen, which prompted the change.

"I never threatened to 'destroy YetiZen.' Note that in the year since, I have done nothing which would even suggest that statement is true. In my statement noting my resignation from the IGDA, I said nothing about YetiZen. It is the IGDA who, in my mind, violated their code of conduct. My issue was with the IGDA and the IGDA alone.

"I have no vendetta against YetiZen, of course."

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