The Slatest

SXSW Panels on Gamergate and Harassment Cancelled Due to Harassment, Threats of Violence

Banners hang in the atrium of the Austin Convention Center on on the eve of the opening of the 2012 South By Southwest (SXSW) interactive, film and music festival.  

Photo by Robert MacPherson/AFP/Getty Images

Last week, the interactive arm of the South by Southwest festival circuit announced it would host two panel discussion sessions on Gamergate and the state of the gaming community—SavePoint: A Discussion on the Gaming Community and Level Up: Overcoming Harassment in Games. On Monday, the Austin-based festival behemoth had a change of heart and pulled the sessions due to threats of violence.

Some conflicts are so intractable, some relationships so toxic, that proximity and conflict resolution are impossible. Such is the state (still) of Gamergate apparently and its particular toxic brand of online harassment, particularly of women. Here’s what Interactives Director Hugh Forrest had to say about the thinking behind the decision to pull the panels, posted on the SXSW website Monday.


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… 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.

For a quick refresher course on Gamergate, Slate’s David Auerbach wrote this manifesto on “How to End Gamergate” last year.