The ever-popular South by Southwest convention was planning a panel for next year called "Level Up: Overcoming Harassment in Games," which was described as:
A panel from 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 panel will dive into data around abuse in larger gaming communities. One of our panelists will talk about about ways to actually develop the social aspects of games - including UI decisions and how they can influence accuracy and usage of reporting abuse. Another will dive into UX design choices to stymy harassment in social media spaces.
Sounds like a positive idea, right? Well, not if you yourself are a harasser - excuse me, I mean proponent of ethics in game journalism - which is what appears to have prompted a bunch of people to send threats of violence to SXSW, causing them to cancel the panel. From Randi Harper, who was scheduled to be on the panel along with Katherine Cross and Caroline Sinders, on Twitter:
Cross and Sinders' Twitter accounts also confirmed the cancellation. SWSW has yet to officially comment.
When you're finished detaching your face from your palm, consider letting SXSW know that this kind of response actually indicates an even greater need for such a panel, not a reason to cancel it.
And don't read the comments.
UPDATE: SXSW has issued a statement about the cancellation, indicating that they have also canceled a planned GamerGate panel:
On Monday, October 26, SXSW Interactive made the call to cancel two sessions for the 2016 event: "SavePoint: A Discussion on the Gaming Community" and "Level Up: Overcoming Harassment in Games." We had hoped that hosting these two discussions in March 2016 in Austin would lead to a valuable exchange of ideas on this very important topic.
However, in the seven days since announcing these two sessions, SXSW has received numerous threats of on-site violence related to this programming.
SXSW 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. If people can not 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.
Over the years, we are proud of the healthy community of digital innovators that has formed around SXSW. On occasions such as this one, this community necessitates strong management to survive. Maintaining civil and respectful dialogue within the big tent is more important than any particular session.
-- Hugh Forrest
SXSW Interactive Director