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Exclusive: Xbox One Stage Show Twitter Storm Kicks Off

Posted by Ken Barnes

Transphobia and giveaways?

We've already spoken about what we think about the Xbox One stage show at this year's Eurogamer Expo, but more drama kicked off on the final day of the show, with show presenter Fraser Millward being called into question regarding his treatment of one of the female contestants who took part in the show.

Laura Kate Dale tweeted the following messages (note that due to the woman being harassed mercilessly via Twitter, we have removed the actual Tweets):-

"Most embarrassing moment of Eurogamer. Pulled up on stage for XB1 thing and called male twice and "it" twice."

"That has really ruined my weekend."

"Hope someone from Microsoft sees this. Your presenter made completely dehumanised me in front of an audience. Ruined my Eurogamer."

Twitter has rallied to Miss Dale's defence, and understandably so. The stage shows have been a little close to the bone at times over the weekend, with one notable occurrence seeing clearly underage gamers taking part in a "twerking" contest in order to win a t-shirt, in front of a crowd of fans.

Ricky Mensah, Event Manager for Microsoft, apologised for any offence caused by the stage show, before introducing us to the show presenter, Fraser Millward. In a short discussion with Mr. Millward, we showed him the accusatory tweets and asked for his response to the whole situation.

Mr. Millward stated that he agreed that he referred to Miss Dale as "this person" as with all the furore of dealing with 350 or so baying fans and trying to run a stage show, he didn't instantly recognise her gender. He states that "I should have said 'this person' and then gone on to the next person and also referred to them as 'this person' so as not to cause offence, but I was thinking on my feet. I wouldn't do the same thing again."

In direct response to the following tweet, though, Mr. Millward was a little more defensive in his comments.

Laura Kate Dale: "I was 'he', 'it'. 'Thing' and 'this one'. I was on stage and they still insist 'we need a woman on stage, any women here.'"

"Staff apologised to her, but every single part of the first sentence of that tweet is made up. We called for more women so as to balance things up as there were mostly male gamers on stage, yes. There are ways of complaining in a mature way, but this is inflammatory and slanderous. 350 witnesses saw that this did not happen and that I didn't say those things. I would like to speak to her face to face to sort this out, but she's taken to Twitter and now I'm getting hundreds of tweets per minute." We asked what could have sparked these claims if this indeed did not happen, and Mr. Millward said that "I referred to her as 'this person', at which point some of the crowd laughed. I should have diffused that situation, but I think that is what's caused this to happen. I did not refer to the woman as 'thing' or 'it' at any point."

Miss Dale claims that Microsoft's security staff prevented her from speaking to Mr. Millward, which Mr. Millward claims he was not aware of.

Update #1 - 10:30 September 30th, 2013: A Microsoft spokesperson has issued the following statement: "We are aware of an incident today on the Xbox booth at the Eurogamer Expo, at which an inappropriate comment was made, and we apologise for any offence caused."

Update #2 - 22:39 September 30th, 2013: Fraser Millward has posted the following over the course of a series of tweets this evening:

I’d like to express my sadness and dismay at what has ensued following a live stage event at the weekend. No offence was intended when I referred to Laura Kate Dale as ‘this person’ after I asked the audience to applaud her and I would like to take this opportunity to apologise for any offence and hurt I may have caused. There will be no further comment or response regarding this matter. Signing off!

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User Comments (6)

Gamer83

#1

Gamer83 said:

Another utterly embarrassing situation for MS. It would be nice if somebody at that company would just show even the slightest bit of maturity and class for once. I've said before and I'll keep saying it until I see something change... the Xbox Division ever since Peter Moore, Shane Kim and J Allard left has been a total joke. Don Mattrick was terrible and Phil Spencer is a clown who should be doing nothing more than writing press releases. I was hoping the recent switch from Don Mattrick would produce some better results but it seems like it's plain old, childish behavior as usual. Instead of making any excuses or defending himself at all, this idiot should apologize because it's obvious he did something wrong to get himself in this situation to begin with. Say I'm sorry, drop it and move on. As for MS itself, being born and raised in the U.S. I know not to expect much class from big American businesses, but this is just pathetic. The execs there and other people hired to run events really do come off as a bunch of immature, classless slime compared to people like Iwata, Miyamoto, Andrew House and Shuhei Yoshida.

SuperKMxAdmin

#2

SuperKMx said:

@Gamer83 I think "this idiot should apologize because it's obvious he did something wrong to get himself in this situation to begin with" is very harsh, if I'm honest. I'm not saying that one thing happened or the other, but there doesn't seem to be a single person from the 350 or so who were watching the show who are corroborating the accuser's story at this point, but a few who say that nothing happened, and most outlets are failing to even try to speak to the accused.

I don't think this is all that cut and dried, and I feel that the way that the man is being presented by the media - his name is apparently just "Transphobe Comedian" or "Transphobe Comedian Fraser Millward" in a lot of articles - is just unfair, given that the facts are unknown. When I spoke to him shortly after this all allegedly took place, he was clearly shaken and angered by the accusations.

I'm not going to lay my opinion on what happened on the table, but I think that when witch hunts begin, its very difficult to stop them. If it turns out that he didn't do what he's being accused of, he'll STILL always be known as "Transphobe Comic Fraser Millward" to a fair few people. If he did it then of course he deserves that.

Gamer83

#3

Gamer83 said:

@SuperKMx

While I completely get where you're coming from I have to state it's not an accident that people at MS or involved with the company keep finding themselves in some kind of embarrassing situation. This is reaching Sony 2006 levels of 'LOL' pathetic.

mahmoud

#4

mahmoud said:

gamer83, calm down. All of these "insult" and "dehumanization" actually just happened in the head of "this person".

" but every single part of the first sentence of that tweet is made up. We called for more women so as to balance things up as there were mostly male gamers on stage, yes. There are ways of complaining in a mature way, but this is inflammatory and slanderous. 350 witnesses saw that this did not happen and that I didn't say those things. "

It's right there. I use "this person", often, and it's not an insult. I use that for anyone. Women or men. There's no insult in using the words "this person".

You're over reacting. This is yet again an over reaction from the white DNC liberal and social justice warriors on the internet. No facts checking, just bait clicking for most game "journalists".

What a complete buffoonery.

SuperKMxAdmin

#5

SuperKMx said:

It seems that a lot of people on various messageboards are running with some pretty limited facts. I have registered for an account on NeoGAF in order to try and correct them, but my account has not been activated as yet. Therefore, I'll post here in the hope that they see it.

1) It was suggested by one of my bosses to not run this story until we had spoken to Eurogamer (this site is a part of the Eurogamer Network) so we could give them the chance to comment on anything that may have been seen to have been critical of their show. Also, they may have had more information about the actual facts as they were pretty thin at the time. Initially, I was in agreement, but eventually ignored this and ran the story anyway. Fortunately, the owners of this site trust my judgement (which isn't wise, if I'm honest! :)) and trust me to know what I'm doing.

Eurogamer had no knowledge of me posting this article or of me speaking to Mr. Millward, until the story was live. They have not been in contact with me at all regarding this issue. Microsoft contacted me to ask me to put the statement included in Update #1 in place, which I agreed to do. Fraser Millward has not been in contact with me. I placed the content of his apology in Update #2, in the interests of completeness.

2) Advertising is not sold on this site by Eurogamer at this time. Can you see any ads?

3) We are not affiliated with Microsoft. Look at the first link in this news story and you'll see that we're pretty much slating them for the show. We do not exist to defend Microsoft. I often take potshots at them, much to their chagrin. (Sorry, Acey! :))

4) This allegedly occurred during one of Microsoft's many live stage shows that took place over the four days. This was not a press briefing. Every hour or so, Fraser Millward would come out on stage and introduce a game demonstration (Kinect Sports Rivals, Zoo Tycoon, etc) which was presented by members of each game's development team/PR team. He would then host a competition where members of the audience were invited on stage to perform tasks in order to win t-shirts. This is where the "we need a woman, any woman" bit comes in. He would ask for volunteers, pick a few from the mostly-male audience, then try to balance things out gender-wise by asking for more women to volunteer.

5) I was there for all four days of the show, generally stood at the very next stand, which was being run by this site's sister site, Nintendo Life.

6) On the Thursday and Friday, the stage shows garnered maybe 150 people per event. On the Saturday and Sunday (which were much busier), the numbers were much higher. At the end of each show, Mr. Millward would shout "Let's give away some stuff!" and start lobbing t-shirts and lanyards into the crowd. At this point, hundreds of people RAN to the stage to try and get their hands on some freebies. There were easily 350 people there for some events. We have a photo of one of the quieter events posted at the top right of this article (I took the photo myself on the Thursday), which should indicate how many people were present..

7) One event involved making weapons out of a set of random props that were on stage (for Dead Rising 3.) I heard Mr. Millward say "I don't know what that thing is, but stand next to it" several times over the course of the four days, IN REFERENCE TO WHAT THE PERSON HAD CREATED. Entirely innocent. I don't know if this caused confusion or was taken the wrong way, but it was as clear as day to me that he was simply referring to the "weapon" that had been created. I do NOT know if Miss Dale was taking part in a Dead Rising 3 event or not. I simply don't recall. If not, then this point is entirely moot.

8) The "this person" thing came into play during the judging phase. Mr. Millward would call for the crowd to applaud each person's performance or creation, with the biggest applause crowning the winner. "Who wants this guy to win?" applause "And how about this girl?" applause "And this person?" applause "And this guy?" applause etc, etc. I heard him use the phrase "this person" on more than one occasion. Never did I hear the phrase used in a mean-spirited or offensive way.

9) I am not, and will not, say that the alleged words were or were not said. The main reason being that I don't know either way. I was stood at the very next stand (as I've mentioned) for a lot of the shows, and I have a vague recollection of someone being on stage with awesome rainbow-coloured hair. But I was paying attention to the events that were taking place on the Nintendo Life stand and only keeping half an eye on the Xbox One show on that day, as I had already covered it on the previous day and had seen all that Microsoft were showing off.

10) I personally do not think that it is ethically right for a game journalist to be onstage trying to win t-shirts and hoodies from game publishers at a public event. It would make me feel uncomfortable to be onstage in this manner - as if I was doing something wrong - but maybe that's just me. Neither do I think it was correct for the accuser to threaten to pull any Xbox One coverage that she was potentially going to write, solely based on this alleged event. As a journalist, you have a service to provide to your audience, and threatening to refuse to cover a very large part of the gaming industry over this just smacked of an attempt to get Microsoft to come forward and try to make things right, one way or another.

11) I feel that the way the LGBT press has covered this is absolutely shameful. I (and all who write for this site) fully support equality for all, and anyone that has been wronged or dehumanized in the way that is being claimed has my full support. This is highlighted in my first knee-jerk reaction to the event, where I assured Miss Dale that I would personally ensure that Microsoft were made aware of the alleged offence. For the record, I did exactly that. I am as good as my word.

But, whatever happened to being innocent until proven guilty? The article that I have written is the ONLY one that I have seen where Mr. Millward is represented in any way. Every other article just assumes that the accuser is right, and then hangs the comedian out to dry, regardless of proof or evidence. Surely wrongly calling someone a transphobe in front of the world via social media and websites is as offensive as dehumanizing someone in front of a live crowd of 350? Equality should mean equality, not favouring one side instead of the other, just because they're a part of "your group."

And how about the bullying? Miss Dale has received some absolutely vile messages via Twitter and other means that are nothing but abhorrent communications chicken-pecked out by the worst kind of people. Everyone is incredibly quick to jump to her defence when this happens (and rightly so) - but what about Mr. Millward?

When I spoke to him, he didn't paint the picture of a man who had just been brought to task for publicly outing his truly transphobic beliefs. He was shell-shocked, clearly upset and angered that someone would accuse him of what they had accused him of. He showed me his cellphone for about 10 seconds, as I watched tweet after tweet arrive, attacking him for what he had done, despite the fact that nobody had any proof further than the word of the accuser. A quick search on Twitter this morning shows that this continues, albeit to a lesser extent. If it's wrong to bully someone into submission for their personal beliefs and actions regarding their own body and identity, why is it not wrong to bully someone without necessarily knowing anything about them or whether or not they have behaved in the way that one person says they have? Surely, bullying is wrong across the board? You can't say that you support a "no hate" society and then go around being hateful to people, just because they possibly, potentially, might have, maybe committed what is essentially career suicide and publicly attacked one of your own group, or a group that you support. There's always the chance that the accused is innocent, don't you know?

The last thing Mr. Millward asked me as he headed back to the backstage area, was: "Does this happen at every gaming event, or have I just been unlucky?" If Mr. Millward decides to never work with a game publisher again (which is likely - I know I wouldn't want to do it, guilty or innocent) and is guilty, then good riddance to him. If he is innocent, then the industry has just helped to make another person look down on it.

12) We reached out to Miss Dale on the day of the alleged offence via Twitter, hoping to catch up with her in person at the show so that we could speak to her and possibly even arrange a meeting between herself and Mr. Millward, where I would have gladly served as the mediator and record-keeper. Mr. Millward was fully responsive to this, and said that he'd would have liked to meet her face to face in order to sort things out. At the time of this posting (a full two days after the event) we have yet to receive any response from Miss Dale, so it was not possible to do this.

13) We removed the direct Twitter links to Miss Dale's original Tweets, as it was highlighted to us that they could have been enabling idiots who were reaching Miss Dale's Twitter account and posting their venomous bile. This was never my intention. I felt that embedding the actual Tweets would enable people to see what had been said, without fear of clumsy typos or miscommunications by myself. I should have known what "teh Internets" is like after all these years, and if my posting her Tweets has caused the wolves to come to her door, so to speak, then I unreservedly apologise to Miss Dale for this.

14) I had never met Fraser Millward nor Laura Kate Dale prior to this event, nor prior to the brief meeting I had with Mr. Millward regarding the allegations. With no offence intended to Mr. Millward, I hadn't heard of him prior to reading Miss Dale's "Name and Shame" (her words, not mine) Tweet.

15) Fraser Millward is not an employee of Microsoft. He is a comedian and actor who was hired to present their stage show at the Eurogamer Expo.

Hopefully, some of the facts contained in this rant-like comment help to clear some things up. :)

Please note that this comment post is the opinion of me and me alone, and not that of my employer or of this site as a whole.

methadonna

#6

methadonna said:

Kudos on the most rational, balanced, sane reporting that I have seen regarding this incident. As far as your comment above, I agree with everything you've said. It sucks how people are so quick to pick up their pitchforks and mob up to e-crucify someone without making any attempt to verify a suspect's guilt. While much of the press' focus has been on the harassment that Laura suffered since this incident became public, it's nice to see you sticking up for Millward, who does not deserve to be trolled to death over accusations that were mostly untrue. Laura has since recanted her claims that she was called "it" or "thing," but as far as the internet is concerned, Millward will always be associated with transphobia.

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