For the past few weeks, the game industry has been in a tumultuous state. Once again, the industry has been scrutinized by the general public over claims that video games cause violence, despite numerous studies stating that they do not. Now, Square Enix has canceled a series of upcoming Starwing Paradox tournaments, after death threats were made against the game's management team.
Tournaments in Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagoya, and Fukuoka were all affected by the cancellations. Square Enix released a statement regarding the incident, stating that it was necessary to cancel the tournaments as a precautionary method. The cancellation follows numerous threats and other violent incidents in Japan. 35 people lost their lives in one such incident when an arsonist set fire to Kyoto Animation. Square Enix had also been threatened with a repeat of that, though Japanese Police later arrested the man that made the threat.
These threats have not been unique to Japan. Recently in San Francisco, Twitch employees were forced to work from home after someone made threats of a mass shooting just days after two back to back mass shootings in the United States. Twitch taking the threat seriously was the correct move, though it's frightening to see hatred becoming emboldened on such a massive scale. It's hard to say whether or not the issue can be solved, as it boils down to people hiding under the veil of internet anonymity.
The reaction to these threats has been mixed so far. On one hand, there's a been a large number of people removed from the video game industry blaming it for the rise in violence, despite overwhelming evidence that doesn't support that conclusion. On the other, #VideoGamesAreNotTheProblem became a trending topic on Social Media in the wake of the shootings, as thousands of people joined together to refute the allegations. These threats, however, do not help the case, and it seems likely that those blaming games for violence will continue to do so, as they have done since the 90s.
Square Enix did apologize to those that were affected by the cancellation, though it's hard to argue that it wasn't a good move on their part. There's a chance that it was simply an internet troll making empty threats, but the possibilities of what could have happened if they moved forward with the tournaments aren't worth the risk. It's very disappointing that this is the case, but, hopefully, Square Enix will be able to put on a different tournament in the future.