Microsoft's Xbox One. Photo: AFP
Microsoft has changed the default wording of a dynamic advertisement for its new Xbox One video game console, which suggested women would "rather knit" than watch their partner "slay zombies", following claims it was "sexist".
Microsoft put together an online letter template to help men ask their significant others for Xbox One consoles — either as a holiday gift or requesting permission to get the system for the household.
The advertisement (you can read it in full here) tries to be cute with the thinking an "explanation (and a little sucking up)" will get the woman to budge. But some see the effort as sexist and enforcing gender stereotypes. The letter, which can be personalised and shared via social media or email, lists various reasons why the console would benefit "you and me — together and apart, but mostly together."
The letter begins: "You’d rather knit than watch me slay zombies, but hear me out on this. Xbox One is actually for both of us. Seriously."
It then suggests that the console will prompt the couple to exercise more and will let the woman watch movies and chat with her sister via Skype while the man watches the game. Although the ad does a solid job of detailing its versatility, some Twitter users said the language is condescending and implies that only men play video games and women dislike when they do.
"You love movies and I love football. Well, with the Xbox One, we can love both," it reads. "We can catch your favorite team AND check out my favorite team. Just think of all this togetherness we're going to experience. It's gonna be awesome!"
A Microsoft spokesperson said the letter was "fully customisable" and that the company "meant no offense".
"But understand how the defaults could be perceived. We're making changes to the letter defaults and apologize for the oversight."
The company has since made a few changes to the text, updating phrases such as "you'd rather knit" to "you'd rather do your taxes early."
According to a recent study, nearly half of gamers are women, but they are often made to feel like the minority.
Although some Twitter users had strong reactions to the ad, others called in "clever" and "tongue in cheek".
Alright..I know this will alienate people, but I'm tired of overreactions to every little thing. The Xbox ad? Get over it. Tongue-in-cheek.— Russell Wilson (@Spikey206) November 27, 2013
Maybe not disgustingly sexist, but definitely pushing it, Microsoft. http://t.co/QNrHEVA0dC— Daniel Eden (@_dte) November 27, 2013
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With Fairfax Media