It’s there we find the message collapse.
“If you’d asked me 10 years ago what my dream life would be, it’s EXACTLY what I do for a living now. Own my own pro gamedev studio,” Brianna Wu, May 2014.
A August 2013 Gamasutra press release would call Revolution 60 as “Heavy Rain Meets Mass Effect” in their tagline. Brianna’s husband Frank did most of the modeling work for the game. The iOS developer account for the company is also under his name, rather than Brianna’s. While it was at first an iOS title, Wu would spend a few years porting it to PC. Here’s a trailer.
A summary of the plot to the game can be seen here in this article from Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing:
“‘Rev60’ tells the story of a crack, all-female team of operatives who steal a spaceship and try to take over a malfunctioning orbital weapons platform. If they fail this mission, it will mean an all-out nuclear war (so no pressure). Spearheaded by tech feminist and Gamergate nemesis Brianna Wu, the game has simplified controls to allow people who aren’t hardcore gamers to play a game with a storyline. The original version of ‘Revolution 60’ won iMore’s 2014 iOS Action Game of the Year. The special edition has fancier sets and costumes, improved lighting, and extra scenes that deepen the characters. One choice changes everything – The fate of the world depends on your decisions!”
It’s not disclosed by Cory Doctorow that he was named in the credits section of the game (skip to 56:23 in the video). Doctorow would later go on to be an adviser on Brianna’s campaign for office.
Although Wu’s PC port Revolution 60 would finally release on September 6th, 2016, Revolution 60 had several years of delays as a result of GamerGate controversy, according to Wu. Back in April 2014, Brianna told Twitter they had just finished the last shot of the game. The idea of a sequel, titled Revolution 62, was also discussed back then. According to this one remark, Wu’s job as head of development was mostly writing scenes up and sending them to a dropbox for someone else to animate. But they’d also describe their job as steering the project’s general direction, along with legal responsibilities (for further reading, see these 1, 2, 3, 4).
The fundamental problems with Revolution 60 are best explored through GethN7 on Medium, he wrote a series of posts going into intricate detail about this aspect.
The original release date of the game was August 2014, according to their Kickstarter page. But Wu would show up responding to backer’s comments in March 2015 by responding people should “have some empathy” about what happened to Wu after the GamerGate controversy. In September 2015, Brianna would share a picture of some of the changes they made to the game as a result of “Feminism,” apparently. Then it was October 2015, after that it was January 2016 (but that would be informally pushed back too). On May 4th 2016, Brianna tweeted the game was finished and ready to submit to Steam “first thing in the morning,” but nothing came of that. Wu would continue to say Revolution 60 was done in June 2016 (when backers would start to question if it was a scam), but that July they would claim GamerGate was harassing them about releasing the game. August 2016 had one last final rush by Wu to get it out the door, but with at least one delay being made because Brianna hates Mondays. On August 24th – Wu reveals they delayed their game’s release since July 2015 because they wanted to redo the lighting in every section of it.
When it comes to the PC port – things like: framerate, audio desyncing, and model glitches were fixed from the iOS version (although some would claim they lingered regardless). But many of the glaring issues from the original still remained when it came to cutscenes and overlays. The best way to understand what Revolution 60 is as a video game is to see it being Let’s Played on YouTube.
What didn’t change is the fact that Wu would use GamerGate as a scapegoat for any negative reviews or feedback. When replying to someone who wanted their Steam keys in a timely fashion, and wanted to have a chance to play it before reviews from the public came out – Giant Spacekat wrote:
We are literally assembling the spreadsheets to send out keys as we speak. Hopefully in the next hour or so. Gamergate is going to Gamergate. We knew that going in.
In terms of personality, they’d claim to “deliver so much surly asshole behavior” to their employees. Brianna says their company (comprised of six or so people) is so large enough that when people ask Wu questions, they don’t know because “it’s not their department anymore,” allegedly. One tweet reveals a personal reflection on their leadership abilities. They called themselves a professional in the Unreal Engine. At the end of May 2014, Brianna talked about some high school intern they brought on to help with their Revolution 60 game. Wu said they taught this girl many of the basics of game development and took them to events like PAX. Brianna released a piece in April 2013 that took a look inside the life of their team’s job. Software Engineer Maria Enderton would leave at the end of February 2015, after having worked there for 4 years. A designer named Carolyn VanEseltine lasted ten months at Giant Spacekat before parting ways with them. Amanda Warner, Giant Spacekat’s Co-founder, left in May 2016. Brianna Wu didn’t just use Giant Spacekat to make video games, but they also entertained the idea of using it as a diversity task force of some kind. “I expect GSX to have internships to teach feminist business leadership at some point,” Wu tweeted. They were subject to doing things outside the normal job description of making a game. There were also subdivisions like Giant Spacekittens – meant to ship children’s related games, along with something called Project Gogo. But it didn’t come without its challenges, apparently. “Six months at GSK, and Casey could write a BOOK about the crap women deal with in the tech industry,” Wu once tweeted.
The association of Brianna Wu’s Revolution 60 to the harassment they said they received during the GamerGate years had started as early as a week after Wu’s incident on October 10th. Allegations had surfaced that an image detailing some sort of false operation was made days before the @chatterwhiteman tweets, which Brianna had taken at face value. On November 25th 2014, Brianna announced a new project for Giant Spacekat. “GSX’s new project: Our goal is to give everyone the tools to ship their own Danganronpa,” they tweeted. The Eurogamer article they linked to said Wu was aiming to “replace Twine” with this venture. At the bottom there was a link to the accompanying blog post that was made on Brianna’s site, telling people to acquire about being hired.
Things really began to pick up after Revolution 60 had went live on Steam Greenlight. Brianna’s husband Frank took to Facebook on February 3rd, 2015 in order to convince people to upvote the game:
We outnumber the evil ones but we need to stand up and be counted, or else it’s the Democrats in 2014 all over again. As part of releasing the PC version of Rev60, we have just posted it to Steam Greenlight. If enough people upvote it, it will be approved (greenlit) on the biggest digital game distribution system (Steam). If we don’t get enough upvotes it dies and our dreams along with it. The problem is that gamergaters and all the people who hate us have been waiting for this day and immediately swarmed it and flooded the system with downvotes. We need our friends – yes, you – to stand up for us and upvote it.
February 4th. An observant Twitter user noticed an increase in bot activity in regards to Revolution 60‘s comments. Similar concerns were raised about the game’s metacritic page, due to the fact that many of the positive reviewers had only 1 review (Revolution 60) on their accounts. On the 5th, a Steam moderator by the name of FrazerJC came out to respond directly to Brianna Wu’s Revolution 60 blog post. He kept his critique strictly to the content of the project itself, and encouraged Wu to take the time to consider the constructive criticism that was being offered on the discussion page. Brianna tried to pressure FrazerJC into moderating more extremely by mentioning an article someone wrote, but Frazer insisted he was doing the best to his ability. The following day, Wu would confess to locking and deleting discussion threads personally on their Revolution 60 Steam Greenlight page.
The day after, Hatman (a prominent moderator of Kotaku in Action) would have a livestream with Brianna Wu to talk about Revolution 60. At the time it was considered a big deal that people on the two opposing sides of GamerGate would come together and have a public discussion like that. They would be on seemingly amicable terms with one another for a short time after that. February 11th had Wu setting the Revolution 60 page to private because “modding Gamergate rants wastes GSXs time,” according to a tweet. February 13th, Wu releases an article titled “Revolution 60 PC has been Greenlit – But…”
As outlined in the introduction, the haphazard development cycle of this game ended up not amounting to much in terms of product.
At the beginning of March 2015, Wu had a coffee meeting with Brad Wardell of Stardock. According to their initial tweets about it, Brianna did it because they wanted to talk business and look past GamerGate political differences. The response from Twitter was brutal. But it mostly came from people who were against GamerGate as a movement. GamerGhazi talked about it at length, leading Wu to address the negative comments sent to them about it. Brianna was disappointed by GamerGhazi in particular. At the time, some thought it was a sign Wu was more open to dialogue. But by the 6th they moved onto the next hot topic people were talking about on social media – criticizing the choice of dancers Nvidia used at their #GDC2015 party. At the end of the month, Brianna Wu joined in the public outcry against Lionhead Studios Twitter account after they posted an image in celebration of #NationalClevageDay. The company eventually folded to public pressure, and apologized for the situation. Brianna took the time to gloat. “Point out a very sexist Tweet by a major game company. They apologize and delete it,” they remarked. “The reason I am able to affect change is because I’m right,” Wu said in a follow-up.
Continuing their critique of video games, on April 16th Wu had some remarks about Xenoblade Chronicles. “if there’s coincidentally no woman in your game until several hours in, it’s not a coincidence. It’s unconscious sexism,” they tweeted.
On May 12th, Wu tweeted a phone number belonging to Valve and Steam claiming they were trying to get Gamergate credit card fraud prosecuted,” and tried to get people to RT them as a means of applying public pressure for Valve to do whatever it was they wanted at the time. Brianna would apply the same technique to a separate situation a few days later. “If you are a pro in the game industry, you should know Denis Dyack is violating your privacy and sending screen caps to Gamergate,” Wu tweeted on May 14th. “Wow, so many people sending me messages about this Brianna Wu accusation. I really hope people are not taking this seriously. For the record: I have not done this and cannot image a motive to even do this. Frankly, I am busy with more important things then taking screen caps of facebook,” Dyack replied.
By May 24th, Wu approached discussion online with the sense that they knew what gamers wanted. One time towards the end of May, Brianna took a picture of their game collection, and made a series of tweets color-coding it based on criteria like the number that had female protagonists, black protagonists, games with transgender characters, and games with murder and destroying. The problem Wu didn’t realize was, they were interpreting their own collection as an example of the entire collection of games out there. That was the mindset Brianna had in their writing style. As you can see here later on by July 24th, when Wu shared their thoughts on Metal Gear Solid V and transgender representation with VICE.
September 1st 2015, Brianna writes a piece on The Mary Sue claiming that Samus is a transgender woman. “JUST ACCEPT IT, IT’S CANNON,” Wu tweeted. The basis for this was one line from an interview Brianna found. People against GamerGate, such as Izzy Galvez, commented on Wu’s Samus article by calling it “troll bait” in a tweet. When the gaming community criticized Wu’s assertion, they responded by saying the gaming community was transphobic. “I need you to understand, your unconscious bias against transgender people is killing them. It killed my friend Evelyn, who was only 19,” tweeted Wu. The following day, the co-author of the article had some remarks in response to the public’s critiques. “I don’t care about canon, I don’t care about authorial intent, I demand queer representation and I will subvert and take away your spaces,” they tweeted. Brianna would write a follow-up article about the responses they had gotten – blaming the gaming community and claiming they didn’t understand transgender related issues. Wu would continue to deal with this discussion for the next few days. A week later (on the 7th), Jef Rouner of the Houston Press wrote a piece decrying the pushback against “Samus is trans” as gamer entitlement.
When it comes to Wu’s technical qualifications, they stated the following on September 9th. “When it comes to understanding the limitations of Apple’s tools, and the complexities of using Unity/Unreal with it? I AM AN EXPERT, okay?”
At the end of September 2015, we’d see how Wu was changing in the eyes of the game development community. Derek Smart’s feud with Star Citizen had taken a public turn at the time, and Brianna joined in the dogpiling of him. They’d tell a story of how Wu first met Smart, describing him as someone who: started fights, told Brianna how to run their company, and that he was allegedly “ruining Facebook for everyone,” according to them. But Derek had a lot to say in reply to that. “She’s a liar. But u already knew that. I have the entire FB posts of the only two discussions I ever had with her and how they ended. She was another “woman in games” I was supporting through her issues with harassment. I tend not function well in an echo chamber. So between Oct/14 and June/15, we were blocked (I kicked her out of my feed for radical ideology) from each other,” he said. “Thing with these people is that as soon as you stop agreeing with their radical bullshit, you are the enemy. Then they pile on. The fallacy these people have is that the number of followers you have, the more influence you have over your ideology. It’s bullshit. Unfortunately, as with politics & religion, once you have your own curated mob, you wield some influence over a narrative,” Derek said, trying to describe Wu as the person they had become.
On November 11th 2015, Wu wrote “From sex symbol to icon: How Crystal Dynamics saved Lara Croft” on Polygon.
“YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT THE FUCK YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT” – Brianna Wu responding to someone’s criticism about their game.
February 18 2016 is when Brianna took a jab at Sonic the Hedgehog’s Twitter account for making a joke. “We actually identify as an attack helicopter. Check your privilege,” the tweet from Sonic said. Wu interpreted it to mean something transphobic, going on to quote stats about the suicide rate of transgender people. While Sonic’s tweet didn’t include the word “sexually” in their initial exchange, Brianna would claim there was a connection between that and a meme from 4chan. “To be honest, a kid running a Twitter account I can forgive. The transphobic backlash by gamers for noticing is terrible,” Brianna said after they personally brought more attention to the tweet in the first place.
In March 2016, the political criticisms Wu would raise on Twitter had a clash with the game development aspect of their life. When Brianna saw Panzermadels: Tank Dating Simulator had released on the Steam store, they said “More anti-feminist filth from game industry. Tank-dating simulators objectify tanks, reducing them to sexual objects,” in a tweet. The development team over at DEVGRU-P caught wind of this and interpreted it as a badge of honor, adding it as a featured review on their Steam page. On the 18th, Wu would insert themselves into an incident that took place at GDC. “Extremely disappointed @Microsoft and @Xbox hired women wearing these outfits to perform at @gdc. PLEASE RT,” a flustered Brianna tweeted. Wu claimed Microsoft had done this before, and throw GamesBeat under the bus as well for being guilty of doing that. When someone asked why they should care, Brianna replied with a swath of media outlets that wrote about the ordeal.
At the end of the month and through the beginning of April, Brianna would go after Nintendo for the Alison Rapp scandal. It’s here we see a mix of everything that’s been mentioned so far in this piece: Wu would blame GamerGate for the incident, Wu would imply they had inner connections to Nintendo that gave them insider information, Wu would make it about them, Wu would say every woman in the industry is automatically terrified (and throw in a tangentially related anecdote to make it seem believable), and finally propose something extreme only to backpedal shortly after. Months later, Brianna would be reminded of their previous commitment to boycott Nintendo after they came out praising the Switch console. “I can’t reconcile it. But ultimately, this is my career field – and every company has done extremely sexist things,” Wu wrote.
So what’s the point of everything Wu has tried to do these past few years if they can’t hold themselves to their own commitments?
In October 2016, Wu would be involved in a piece dealing with VR. In “She’s been sexually assaulted 3 times–once in virtual reality” on CNNMoney, they’d further push the notion that regulation was necessary on video game violence. “No one wants to see the government regulate the game industry. But the truth is, VR is such a powerful experience, your brain feels like it’s real,” Brianna actually claimed.
The truth is Wu’s words have no meaning. It didn’t matter to Brianna, just as long as they got a nod in the media out of it. But over the course of GamerGate – Zoe Quinn and Randi Harper were revealed to be more against Brianna Wu than anyone realized at the time. This was revealed via a set of chatlog leaks from the Crash Override group Quinn had made.
But it’s better to let Randi explain it themselves.
On a final note, Wu is lying about TheRalphRetort’s involvement in “publishing maps of” their house. Ralph reprinted an article that was first posted by @Fart2Continue on Medium, but quickly taken down by their administrators. Brianna themselves referenced that version in their Twitter thread calling the article “terrifying,” while taking the time to blur out pictures from Google Maps. If you want to read the actual piece, it’s somewhere on Encyclopedia Dramatica. “Hotel room or friend’s couch doesn’t make a great photo/video backdrop. We went to my GSX office which has my $5000 workstation and posters,” Wu admitted a day later.
Was the direct approach taken in the article bizarre? Probably. But the piece took great care to erase any visible address listing wherever required. Brianna omits any mention of the fact that their initial statements to the media caused confusion as to what exactly happened that evening, and by December 2014 it was a question that people were talking about, even before that Medium article went up.
Wu further distorts the situation on their Patreon page.
Later that day, I have a well-known stalker that posts disturbing levels of information about my house, my car, my pets, my neighborhood. So, I waste hours documenting this for law enforcement. Later, this person emails me to say he’s gone through my husband’s blog and has more private information from there.
Here’s the email that Brianna is referencing.
That’s all there is to it.
Part 1 – Brianna Wu’s Twitter Problem
Part 2 – Brianna Wu’s Media Parade