South by Southwest (SXSW), the annual music, film, and interactive festival held in Austin, Texas, announced the cancellation of two panels on diversity, harassment, and the gaming community. The organizers cited threats of on-site violence against the 2016 event, but such threats aren’t uncommon when it comes to diversity in gaming.
The gaming industry has struggled with harassment long before the issue came to light in 2014 thanks to Gamergate, an Internet-driven movement that officially promotes ethics in video-game journalism but remains most notable for social-media-driven attacks towards female gamers and developers, journalists and critics of misogyny in games. The controversy deals with sexism and progressivism in the video game culture and confirmed the online community’s proclivity towards breeding hate and misogyny along with making on- and off-line threats big enough to halt much-needed discussion.
SXSW Interactive director Hugh Forrest released a statement that said:
“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”
Read the full statement here.