We regret to inform everyone that the panel, “#SavePoint: A Discussion on the Gaming Community”, has been cancelled by SXSW effective immediately. The event page has been removed, and our access to the session production guide has been revoked. This comes as a shock to us, but we weren’t unprepared. We’ve spoken with representatives from SXSW Gaming and they explained to us their reasoning behind the decision.
A lot has happened since we submitted the panel, and we’ve been overwhelmed with both support and disdain. However, SXSW’s team has had to bear the brunt of the backlash. They received countless emails, phone calls, tweets, and messages across all social media both praising and condemning them for #SavePoint and the Level Up panel organized by Randi Harper. SXSW explained to us that they are a very neutral organization and wanted to provide a platform for both sides to speak on and have their voices heard. “We wanted to do something interesting that hadn’t really been done before” one SXSW official said in our phone conversation earlier today. SXSW feels that both the organization and its staff have been under siege from all sides and from all parties since they announced the panels early this month. They want to encourage open discussions, but they don’t want to fuel a vicious online war between two sides who are extremely opposed to one another. We’re all very passionate about this medium and sometimes we let that passion get the best of us – and that’s on both sides of the table. This entire thing grew out of control very quickly and was more intense than anything that they have had to deal with – and they hosted a panel on Snowden just a few years prior. Once the SXSW director got involved it was a done deal. The SXSW Interactive and their Gaming teams came together and made the decision to cancel both panels.
While this is disheartening news there is a silver lining. The Open Gaming Society believes in open discussions and would like to announce our “Plan B.” We formed this plan almost immediately after we submitted the panel to SXSW. Though SXSW has cancelled the panel, we still plan to have a panel regardless. This has been a backup plan from square one and now we are forced to act on it. We will organize, fund, and host the panel ourselves. We plan to do so around the same time as SXSW to allow for the largest possible audience.
We are more than happy to hear everyone’s thoughts and opinions on this idea. We will also be speaking on Honey Badger Radio  tomorrow at 8PM Easter(7PM Central) to discuss this in further detail.
One final note to everyone, GamerGate, anti-GamerGate, and everything in-between: Don’t attack SXSW for this. They did what they felt was best for their team(s). They have a massive event to plan that literally encompasses all of downtown Austin and consists of 3 major festivals. The last thing they need is for two panels (on a major topic) to absorb all of their time and resources. I know all of you, on both sides, must be incredibly upset that this has happened, but take our honest advice; Step away from your computers/phones for a moment. Go outside and take a breather, play a video game that calms your nerves, pet your cat or dog, and spend some time thinking. Don’t let that anger and unrest plant itself in you – it will only ripen into hatred and lead you to say things you could someday regret. Let’s all be calm and civil about this. Don’t flood SXSW’s inbox with “Fuck you” emails. They have enough on their plate as it is.
We look forward to providing a platform for all gamers, regardless of political affiliation, to come and voice their opinions.
Founder and President of The Open Gaming Society