King's Gaming Ladies event canceled following targeted online harassment campaign

King's Gaming Ladies event canceled following targeted online harassment campaign
Gaming Ladies event banner, overlaid with a post describing a troll's intent to disrupt the event. Gaming Ladies/Facebook
Gaming Ladies event banner, overlaid with a post describing a troll's intent to disrupt the event. Gaming Ladies/Facebook

The game development company King — makers of Candy Crush Saga — planned to host a women-only developers conference and networking event, but a targeted harassment campaign organized by internet trolls apparently forced its organizers to cancel it.

Source: Segunda Edición Gaming Ladies/Facebook

The event, called Gaming Ladies, was intended to create a safe space for female game developers, a demographic that's woefully underrepresented in the gaming world. In response, a small, vitriolic group plotted on the forum ForoCoches (an invite-only car forum that's basically a Spanish-language 4chan) to pretend to be transgender women in order to gain access to the conference and disrupt it.

An online forum post describing a targeted harassment campaign against the Gaming Ladies event blissy/Twitter

"I’m proposing that we begin planning the trolling of the event that will occur in Barcelona and is only open for women, with the excuse being that they [women] want to feel safe and protected," wrote Edgar16v — a ForoCoches administrator, according to his bio — in a post we translated from Spanish. "The idea I have consists of dressing up as a chick and saying we are transgender."

"We need to plant the seeds [of this protest] by spreading information about the event, finding possible costumes and starting a Telegram group," the post continued. A screenshot of Edgar16v's post was posted on the forum NeoGAF and spread around Twitter.

As with many acts of online trolling, it's unclear whether the organizers planned on actually following through with the stunt. According to Edgar16v's bio, he's in Valencia, Spain, which is about four hours from Barcelona by car.

Still, in the wake of these posts about disrupting the event, the organizer of Gaming Ladies said she was forced to cancel it entirely.

"Given the pressure I've received today, [the company] King Barcelona has expressed to me that they are obligated to cancel the event," she wrote. "Now more than ever it's clear there is a very real demand by girls for spaces that are not mixed [gender]."

Here's the full statement from Gaming Ladies, translated into English:

Given the pressure I've received today, [the company] King Barcelona has expressed to me that they are obligated to cancel the event. Above all, I give thanks to King for trusting in me and giving me the option and space to realize the Gaming Ladies event. This is not a permanent cancellation [of Gaming Ladies events]. Now more than ever it's clear there is a very real demand by girls for spaces that are not mixed [gender] and we will not give up on this front. After all the bullying we've received there is no question that we need events like these. We will try to do this again in some way whether it be with the support of King (who has stated they would try again), or another venue that comes up. Thank you for all the support. If there is any news [related to there being another meetup] I will communicate them from my account & @Gaming_Ladies_.

Here is the original statement in Spanish, as it was distributed through the Gaming Ladies Twitter account:

After canceling the event, Forocoches user Edgar16v updated the original post that originally announced plans for the protest, claiming victory against a cause he called "unjust."

"Technically I have gotten an event that many would categorize as unjust to be canceled and in that sense this is a win," Edgar16v said.

Mic has reached out to King Barcelona and the Gaming Ladies team and will update with any response.

More gaming news and events

Check out the latest from Mic, like this essay about the sinister, subtle evils lurking in rural America that Far Cry 5 shouldn’t ignore. Also, be sure to read our review of Tekken 7, an article about D.Va’s influence on one Overwatch player’s ideas about femininity and an analysis of gaming’s racist habit of darkening villains’ skin tones.