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SXSW cancels gaming-related panels in light of threats (update)

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Following threats of violence, SXSW Interactive has canceled two panels related to the gaming community scheduled for the 2016 conference.

"SavePoint: A Discussion on the Gaming Community" and "Level Up: Overcoming Harassment in Games" were previously approved for next March's event in Austin. Following the publication of the schedule, however, "SXSW has received numerous threats of on-site violence related to this programming," wrote Hugh Forrest, SXSW's interactive director.

According to Forrest, the decision to cancel both panels comes out of a necessity to "keep the dialogue civil and respectful" during the week-long event. "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," he continued.

The description for "Level Up" suggests the panel was to face this particular issue head-on. While it has since been removed from the website, it initially read, "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."

sxsw panel harassment

"SavePoint" is similarly gone from the panel schedule, but details regarding its proposed discussion topics remain on its organizers' website. The Open Gaming Society, a proponent of the "ethics of journalism" tenet held by many in the GamerGate movement, posted to its website that the panel would focus on "the current social-political climate of the gaming community" and "the importance of journalistic integrity in video game's media."

Panelists of "Level Up" have taken to Twitter to express their dissatisfaction with the cancelation.

Update: The Open Gaming Society shared its thoughts on the cancelation in a post on its website, as well as an intention to hold its panel as planned outside of the SXSW festival itself.