I normally don’t post about GamerGate on here. I leave that almost exclusively to my Twitter account, which is also why I’m not as active on Tumblr as I once was: I put more focus on dealing with GamerGate. However, some things have happened that require me to post here.
I strongly urge not going to or supporting SXSW. Or at least, not SXSW Interactive.
I don’t expect everyone reading this to know or understand GamerGate or what’s going on, so here’s the gist of things.
GamerGate started as an abuse campaign against Zoe Quinn under the excuse of “ethics in games journalism”. They conjured up false claims about sex for favorable game reviews, and over time, they’ve attacked anyone else who either won’t let them bully others or who they see as “deserving” in some way. Their targets are always feminists, usually women, and usually ones with a promising career either currently or ahead of them. They make false claims about their targets to “justify” their attacks, claiming pedophilia, bestiality, etc in hopes of ruining reputations and lives.
The second link above explains how a panel SXSW accepted is tied to GamerGate.
The first one is far more important, and the reason I’m making this post: SXSW canceled Randi Harper’s panel. Here’s what the panel was going to be about.
The panel was going to be about overcoming harassment in games. SXSW canceled it due to threats of violence, after having accepted the GamerGate one.
They’re permitting a group that has doxxed, SWATed, hacked and harassed many people to have a presence at SXSW, while kicking out a panel headed by people that group has attacked, a panel focused on dealing with those attacks. They’re essentially saying that all it takes is a false veneer of good intent (”ethics in games journalism”) and threats of harm for SXSW to reward abusers and punish abuse victims.
I’m not demanding anyone reading this to take an action they don’t feel comfortable with doing. I absolutely encourage doing searches, looking around, discovering things for yourselves to decide if you’re making the right decision. But I needed to make this post in light of everything currently happening.
If there are any important updates, I’ll reblog to add them.
I mentioned I’d reblog for any important updates. I have important updates.
This is the statement SXSW put out. It’s also archived here, if the archive becomes necessary: https://archive.is/NBXId .
They canceled the GamerGate panel, which is good. But, they also canceled the harassment panel. And their “logic” for this is that they wanted both panels for “an exchange of ideas”. We’re already seeing awfulness out of SXSW when they equate one panel that’s a cover for an abuse campaign and another panel that’s about stopping abuse as “two sides” of a debate.
SXSW has sent a message that if a mob threatens violence, it can get a panel shut down that’s about how to deal with the kind of behavior you’d see in a mob that threatens violence.
Here are news articles written so far on this issue.
These are new details about the situation.
I highly suggest reading all of it. SXSW is disgusting, and at the absolute bare minimum, has proven it is not safe to attend. If threats of violence are enough to make SXSW cancel panels rather than beef up security, that means they’re completely incapable of keeping their convention safe.
Yet another update!
SXSW’s decision caused a lot of blowback. BuzzFeed and Vox Media/The Verge threatened to withdraw from SXSW if the panels aren’t reinstated, and Representative Katherine Clark sent a letter to SXSW urging them that it’s important not to silence the discussion of dealing with online harassment that those threatening violence sought in making their threats.
There were also tons of articles chastising the decision at Washington Post, Salon, Slate and many others.
SXSW since put out this announcement saying they understand the frustration and are looking into options: http://www.sxsw.com/interactive/news/2015/safety-top-priority-and-so-your-voice . One site, re/code, is saying they heard from exclusive sources that SXSW is considering a day devoted to the issue of combating online harassment as an answer and apology: http://recode.net/2015/10/27/exclusive-after-gamergate-misstep-sxsw-weighing-an-all-day-forum-on-online-harassment/ .
Hopefully, everything taking place comes to a good conclusion. A day dedicated to combating online harassment sounds like a good one to me, it’s increasingly becoming one of the most important issues in online and tech culture.
Another update. There’s both good news and bad news.
SXSW is bringing back both panels they canceled, and even dedicating an entire day to an online harassment summit.
A summit on online harassment is a great idea, and clearly needed given SXSW’s incredibly poor handling of the situation.
However, there are two problems. 1) SXSW is including the GamerGate panel as part of the summit, and 2) they didn’t even speak with the panelists of Level Up, the panel about online harassment, about SXSW including the GamerGate panel in the summit.
SXSW announced the Level Up panel’s return, but because SXSW isn’t actually addressing the panel’s safety concerns or conferring with them about these things, whether or not the panelists actually go ahead with the panel is up in the air.
Meanwhile, this is an archive of what the GamerGate panel was about.
None of the GG panel was about online harassment. They claim it’s about “the social/political landscape of gaming”, “integrity of gaming journalists”, and other video game topics, but not one bit of that is about online harassment. There is literally no good, logical reason whatsoever for that panel to be part of the online harassment summit.
At this point, I’m hard-pressed not to think the worst about SXSW. Either they’re grossly incompetent, trying to exploit the situation for attention, deliberately trying to make things worse for the Level Up panelists, or the organizers just don’t care at all about anyone or anything other than themselves. Not even the conference they run.
Even in the nicest, most accommodating view of GamerGate, it doesn’t take more than one second’s glance to look at the GG panel’s purpose and think “Okay, we’ll bring it back, but it needs to be a different day since it doesn’t fit the summit at all.”