By BENÉT J. WILSON
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of running my interview with Fusion’s Latoya Peterson on her new documentary series, “Girl Gamers.” Peterson told All Digitocracy that her series was created after she “started feeling like this narrative was being forced on me, that as a woman who games, I had to have been harassed out of something.”
Soon after this interview was posted, Hugh Forrest, SXSW Interactive Director said in a statement that he 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.” wrote Forrest. But since the two sessions were announced last week, SXSW has received numerous threats of on-site violence related to this programming.
This isn’t the first time the topic of violent threats in the gaming community have come up. In August 2014, the hashtag #gamergate began trending worldwide after accusations of sexism and harassment against women in the video game development industry surfaced, along with rape and death threats.
SXSW prides itself on being a big tent and a marketplace of diverse people and diverse ideas, wrote Forrest. “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,” he continued. “Maintaining civil and respectful dialogue within the big tent is more important than any particular session.”