Home / Technology / Bits Blog: SXSW Cancels Gamer Panels After Threats

Bits Blog: SXSW Cancels Gamer Panels After Threats

SXSW Interactive, the annual technology event in Austin, Tex., decided on Monday to cancel two panel discussions on game culture that prompted threats of violence against the conference.

In a blog post, Hugh Forrest, director of SXSW Interactive, said that the event organizers made the decision to cancel the two sessions after receiving “numerous threats of on-site violence related to this programming” in the week since the panels were announced.

The panels that were scheduled for the conference, which is being held next March, were titled “SavePoint: A Discussion on the Gaming Community” and “Level Up: Overcoming Harassment in Games.” Both appear to have been dedicated to exploring issues that have polarized the gaming community since last year, when an online movement known by the Twitter hashtag #GamerGate first formed.

GamerGate supporters have railed against what they view as politically correct critics of games and their allies in the press. Some people who have attacked games for sexism, including Anita Sarkeesian, a feminist culture critic, have been the targets of online harassment and have had to cancel speaking engagements because of threats at the events.

Neither of the listings for the panels at SXSW explicitly mention GamerGate. The description for the “Level Up” panel said that it would include “experts on online harassment in gaming and geek culture, how to combat it, how to design against it, and how to create online communities that are moving away from harassment.”

The “SavePoint” panel, meanwhile, was to “focus heavily on discussions regarding the current social/political landscape in the gaming community, the journalistic integrity of gaming’s journalists, and the ever-changing gaming community, video game development, and their future.”

While listings for the panels have been removed from SXSW’s online catalog, copies are accessible here and here.

In his blog post, Mr. Forrest said the conference “prides itself on being a big tent and a marketplace of diverse people and diverse ideas.”

“However, preserving the sanctity of the big tent at SXSW Interactive necessitates that we keep the dialogue civil and respectful,” he added. “If people cannot agree, disagree and embrace new ways of thinking in a safe and secure place that is free of online and offline harassment, then this marketplace of ideas is inevitably compromised.”


NYT > Technology

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *