Hear me moan,
South by Southwest (SXSW) is a collection of festivals and conferences focussing on film, music and interactive media that takes place every year in Austin, Texas. It keeps growing in size and popularity, which means there a lot of eyes looking at SXSW. Needless to say, an event dedicated to the media and the arts is the best platform for videogames.
Or so I thought…
A few months ago SXSW announced there would be two videogame panels at SXSW 2016 – “SavePoint: A Discussion on the Gaming Community” and “Level Up: Overcoming Harassment in Games”. On 26th October SXSW regretfully announced both of the panels had been cancelled due to on-site threats of violence.
SXSW cancels panels
According to SXSW, the panels have been met with hostility and for the safety of staff and the attendees the panels have been cancelled. SXSW are not going to put anyone in harm’s way over some gaming discussions.
As far as I can tell it’s not clear who is making these threats. Nobody has been accused and nobody has come forward. They have been described as ‘on-site threats’ so I’m assuming it is either protestors or employees. It doesn’t sound like anyone has made any noise about this situation online.
Then I found out it’s related to GamerGate.
If there’s one thing I’m not qualified to talk about it’s GamerGate. I’m not a female (the beard gives it away) working in the games industry, nor am I a respected video games journalist with a loud enough voice to defend those in harm’s way. I’m not a troll either – I have trollish features, a bit like Eamonn Holmes, but a troll I am not.
Eamonn Holmes Troll
The crevices of the internet that I frequently inhabit haven’t been privy to GamerGate, but if I was to summarise what GamerGate is I’d say it’s an online movement which champions equality for women in the games industry, coupled with abolishing the violent threats perpetrated by trolls towards those women – and that’s over-simplifying it.
I digress – this isn’t about GamerGate. This is about SXSW cancelling gaming panels that received violent threats because of GamerGate, which is unfair for everyone who wants to tackle harassment in the work place and who has no connections to the online movement – like me.
These two panels meant a lot more than GamerGate. They were designed to tackle serious issues in this industry and they are issues that need addressing at some point; whether you give a shit about GamerGate or not you should definitely give four tonnes of elephant dung about the ethics and any ramifications disregarding those ethics may have. The panels weren’t just about the treatment of women in the industry – they were also about journalists excepting bribes.
By cancelling the panels SXSW have inadvertently picked a side. They were harassed to cancel the panels that were about tackling harassment. A little ironic, don’t you think? This might have been a great opportunity for SXSW to show their support but alas, action has been taken and SXSW must reap what they have sewn.
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