This article was updated to include a second apology and statement from Vertagear. Click here to jump to the response.
Gaming chair manufacturer Vertagear apologized today after sharing a sexist meme on Twitter. The image, which shows a "Male" streamer's feed primarily focused on the game and a "Female" streamer's feed primarily focused on the streamer, advances the sexist narrative that women who stream games are doing so only to earn attention, and not because they're interested in the games they play. The message was removed after quickly drawing criticism as misogynistic.
Hey if any streamers are giving this sexist company free advertising by sitting in their chairs might wanna remove the Vertagear logo. pic.twitter.com/QnkjJCiavjJuly 19, 2021
"Discrimination and bias are the opposite of what we want to create," Vertagear says, "and they completely jeopardize the values we stand for. Unfortunately, we were slow to see the mistakes being made and have hurt many people with a recent Tweet that we made. We take full responsibility for the pain that it has caused to members of our community. We will make things right and set ourselves as a better example for others."
The tweet followed other recent offensive messages about women (opens in new tab), which still remain on the company's Twitter account at time of publication. A similar meme, posted on June 28, portrays women and men's attitudes to gaming as different, with the caption "Has a gamer PC. Uses it only for Facebook," beside the image of a woman.
A new guideline and further measures have been put in place to avoid a repeat of the offensive tweet, Vertagear says. "While we still hope to keep things entertaining for our fans, we'll try our best to be more sensitive to the type of content that can cause pain and agony to different groups of people," Vertagear said in its statement (opens in new tab). "Every aspect of the way we generate content in the future will be reviewed."
The initial apology from the company fell short of explicitly decrying sexist behaviour against women in gaming, but a second apology, seen below, mentions the issue more clearly.
Already a common issue online, you would expect gaming companies to steer clear of such inappropriate imagery and the much larger, dangerous, and inaccurate concepts they represent. After all, what sort of message does this send to Vertagear's customers that identify as women?
We are neither pic.twitter.com/NNaX6Vfa5qJune 29, 2021
These events sadly act as another reminder that offensive, rightfully outdated concepts are not only still in the general gaming consciousness, but seen by some as an opportunity to earn likes and shares. Either Vertagear doesn't understand its role in propagating these ideas with low effort, unassuming memes or didn't care until it got caught.
Vertagear responds again
In a second response late on Monday, Vertagear apologized further for the incident, acknowledging the previous offending messages while noting that the person who made the posts in question is no longer with the company. The full statement from Vertagear reads:
On July 18th, 2021, we made a distasteful & offensive post on Twitter. While it was never in our intention to come off as sexist, nor do we in any way condone these types of thoughts and behaviors, it was an unacceptable mistake.
Unfortunately, over the years, our social media content has on multiple occasions included similar language and themes, which is a pattern we are certainly not proud of and need to rectify immediately to be more respectful of not only the gaming community, but everyone.
These types of actions will not be tolerated moving forward. Effective today, the individual responsible for these posts will no longer be with the company. We have taken the time to reflect on the situation, and are restructuring the way business is conducted here at Vertagear, starting with immediately increasing the level of gender diversity in all facets of company operations, including oversight of all social media content.
Vertagear strives to create a more inclusive platform, work environment and social media presence and will be instituting several additional protocols moving forward to ensure that these new standards are upheld.
We hope you accept our sincerest apology, to the entire community and everyone who was offended by these posts. While we cannot take back our actions, we can and will do everything within our power to change for the better.