#SavePoint – Gamergate Gets a Panel at SXSW

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Image courtesy of The Open Gaming Society

I have to admit I was a little surprised when I saw that the #SavePoint panel had been confirmed. Gamergate, even for the internet’s bogeyman, doesn’t have it easy when it comes to organising discussions—just look at what happened at SPJ Airplay in Miami this August. Bomb threats galore.

If you are unfamiliar, which is nearly impossible if you use the internet on a daily basis, Gamergate is the over-a-year-long internet controversy about ethics in video games journalism; as well as feminism, social justice, industry corruption, ‘cyber-violence[sic], and a whole load of other crap— depending on who you ask.

So why should we care about an internet pissing match (still don’t buy The Guardian et al. misogyny narrative, sorry) that has lasted over a year getting a panel at SXSW (South by Southwest, a series of Austin-based arts and technology festivals)?

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First of all, I am in the camp that thoroughly believes our press has done itself a disservice in the way it has covered Gamergate and its various talking points, instead choosing to put bellows to the flames by discussing uncorroborated or isolated claims of harassment in the name of click bait and sensationalism. Few, if any, mainstream publications have given the hashtag movement a chance to discuss civilly its grievances, and even my playing the devil’s advocate here will probably earn me some hard-core progressive scorn (I do so hate when my ‘team’ throw me shade).

So what is the goal of this panel? In a tweeted infographic The Open Gaming Society claims that panellists Mercedes Carrera, Lynn Walsh, and Nick Robalik, will be discussing “The Gaming Community”, saying;

The goal of this panel is to discuss the current social-political climate in the gaming community, the importance of ethical integrity in gaming journalism, and the future of both the community and the industry. Our community and industry face unique and interesting challenges, and we want to bring them to the forefront of public discussion. We can’t wait to bring our community together and to have an open and honest discussion.

You can find more details about the panel, here. The Ralph Retort, a Gamergate blogger, covered the announcement.

Well isn’t that lovely. Despite all of the infighting, drama, and general clusterfuck-ery of the movement (that has led me to engage at arm’s length), this gives me a great deal of hope. A legitimate discussion of Gamergate’s grievances is going to occur, and as with SPJ Airplay, I feel more of the establishment, especially those in the fifth estate, will have to actually pay attention and discuss the issues raised instead of perpetuating internet tribalism and partisanship by just backing up their team, blinkers on.

I have a lot of worries, but also a lot of hope for this panel. I worry social justice warriors (zealous progressives), will confirm Gamergate’s claims about their regressive and censorious attitudes by trying to get the panel shut down. Consequently, I hope that the panel sticks on point and doesn’t delve into extraneous politics, or other general detritus that has clogged up the discussion of late. Frankly a serious discussion of the gaming community’s problems should not include people shouting things like “shill”, “cuck”, and “fag” at each other like some real life 8chan board.

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