SXSW Controversy About Gaming Panels

South by Southwest (SXSW) is taking heat for a decision to cancel two panels in the March conference. The panels were about GamerGate, which is, according to The New York Times, "a loosely connected online movement that coalesced to counteract criticism of sexism in video games and game culture." SXSW explained the decision on its website: 

SXSW cancellation

As a result, BuzzFeed, Vox, and other companies have withdrawn their participation in the conference. 

In response, conference organizers wrote this brief message on the SXSW website: 

We want the SXSW community to know that we hear and understand your frustrations and concerns about the recent cancellation of two SXSW Gaming panels.

The safety of our speakers, participants and staff is always our top priority. We are working with local law enforcement to assess the various threats received regarding these sessions.

Moving forward, we are also evaluating several programming solutions as we continue to plan for an event that will be safe, meaningful and enjoyable for all involved.

We will provide more information soon.

Discussion Starters: 

  • What's your view of the controversy? How do you interpret SXSW's decision? Did the organization do the right thing by cancelling the panels? 
  • How well did the organization handle these two communications? What are the key messages you take from each?