SXSW Festival rethink over GamerGate 'mistake'

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The organisers of the South by South West (SXSW) festival have confirmed they will run an all-day event on the theme of online harassment, after cancelling two gaming panel sessions.

One panel was about harassment in gaming, while the other was about the "integrity of gaming journalism".

The panels were cancelled following threats of violence.

Both issues have been linked to a furore that sprang out of the controversial GamerGate campaign.

GamerGate is the name of a campaign whose supporters allege that close ties between some video games journalists and those working in the gaming industry itself have given rise to conflicts of interest.

The movement became embroiled with a wider debate over claims of sexism in gaming, and gave rise to violent threats being posted online.

However, GamerGate supporters say they themselves were among the victims of abuse.

The festival hopes the new event will bring together representatives from both panels - but some say they have security concerns over the presence of GamerGate supporters.

Organisers of the Level Up: Overcoming Harassment in Games panel are concerned about a single event hosting representatives of rival factions.

Randi Harper said she would not confirm her attendance.

"While we fully support GamerGate being a part of SXSW Gaming, adding them to the summit creates a safety concern for many of the people who are currently scheduled to be participating," she said.

The organisers of SXSW have been criticised for cancelling the original events and have admitted that their decision was "a mistake".

"By cancelling two sessions we sent an unintended message that SXSW not only tolerates online harassment but condones it, and for that we are truly sorry," wrote Hugh Forest, interactive festival director.

"It is clear that online harassment is a problem that requires more than two panel discussions to address."

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