SXSW has removed two gaming panels from its 2016 line up following threats of on-site violence being issued towards the festival.
Looking to tackle the sexist abuse, lack of diversity and the online harrassment/threats hamstringing many gaming cliques, SXSW had lined up two panels, ‘SavePoint: A Discussion on the Gaming Community’ and ‘Level Up: Overcoming Harassment in Games’.
Level Up in particular was to address the daily struggle of women in the industry, best underlined during the Gamergate controversies which shone a light on the systematic campaigns of abuse coordinated against, in particular, game developers Zoë Quinn and Brianna Wu and vlogger critic Anita Sarkeesian.
Most notably, numerous individuals threatened rape, violence and death against feminist Sarkeesian in response to her analysis of sexist tropes in video games.
A mere week after announcing the events, SXSW has quickly cancelled them citing unspecified violent threats made against the festival. Mirroring the unsavoury sentiment which made Gamergate a stain on the industry, the sessions have been suppressed by the very toxic entities the gaming community should be discussing and rallying against.
The festival issued a statement announcing its decision to drop the much-needed discussions: “SXSW prides itself on being a big tent and a marketplace of diverse people and diverse ideas.
“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.”
Management decided that “maintaining civil and respectful dialogue within the big tent is more important than any particular session”.
Perry Jones, an organiser of the Savepoint panel told Motherboard that he is looking to remove forward with the event regardless of SXSW’s involvement.