This is Part 1 of a 3 part series analyzing different aspects of Brianna Wu’s actions these past few years during the rise of the GamerGate movement.
Brianna Wu is now a public figure capable of deeper scrutiny, due to the fact Wu has decided to run for House of Representatives. Initially Wu didn’t want to reveal the office that was set in sight because they didn’t want their opponent to have time to prepare, according to Wu. This was the result of the 2016 Presidential Election, which ended up with Brianna being unsatisfied with the turnout. By November 27th, just a few short weeks after Election season wrapped up, the announcement for their intent to run for office was made.
This is the same person that said “I can barely stand, I’m so nervous. I’ve never been this scared in my life,” on Election night. Wu has “fought the Alt-Right and Won,” according to the official campaign website. It’s unclear if that’s their official campaign slogan, as a now deleted tweet by them floated the idea of making it “Wu you gonna call?” instead. But to understand what exactly that means, we’ve got to look at the past situations Brianna has gotten into these past few years. If you wanted to see what Brianna Wu was up to before GamerGate started, Milo Yiannopoulos from Breitbart did an article about it, but if you would rather hear about it directly from Wu, there’s a biography on the official website.
To help set the tone of the piece, we should get some insight from people who have worked with Brianna Wu in the past. Emma Clarkson was a social media manager for Wu’s company Giant Spacekat (further verified here). She and Wu were also both involved in the Boston Festival of Indie Games preparations. Were they best friends? No. In fact, by April 2015 Wu would block Clarkson on Twitter. But Emma wasn’t regretful of that, tweeting she’d always get stuck with the work Brianna never got around to doing for BFIG. Emma would further reveal that Wu was the type of person to lie about business arrangements, claiming to fire people who’d really quit on their own accord.
“I also wouldn’t recommend appointing Brianna Wu to manage anything that requires any actual work on her behalf if you expect it to get done,” Clarkson tweeted.
If Wu thought of themselves as a warrior, Twitter would be their battlefield. Certain portions of this section will make mention of a series of Freedom of Information Act files a Twitter user by the name of @Livebeef was able to obtain from the FBI, dealing with parts of Brianna Wu’s ordeal. It’s worth noting that the files indicate the GamerGate case was facing closure in September 2015 due to a lack of actionable leads.
“Since adult women are now the largest group of gamers, I say we start harassing Gamergaters about taking over our our culture.” – Brianna Wu, October 2014.
If you were to ask a casual bystander about the most prominent thing that Wu would feature in their lives, the most common answer is how often Wu would talk about harassment. GamerGate would become aware of who Wu was on the night of October 10th, 2014. Brianna had claimed 8chan doxed them, which led to a flurry of media related articles in the following days. What you probably aren’t aware of, is the fact that Wu had been trying to gain GamerGate’s attention for quite some time beforehand. From posting a chart about alcohol consumption among adults per capita claiming GamerGate was drunk and depressed, to making a fake sock account named @brololz in order to mock Wu’s perception of what they thought GamerGate was, and going as far as to push an “Oppressed GamerGater” meme of a crying child (ended up working against Wu’s favor). Brianna Wu wanted to be part of the GamerGate discussion and encouraged other people to get involved in it themselves. Not just in a serious manner, either. Wu also coaxed others to shitpost on social media at some points.
Often overlooked is a conversation from September 2014, where Wu attacked one of the alternative websites that had popped up – goodgamers.us. “Goodgamers gives you both sides of every story: One straight male that thinks women are people, and one straight male that doesn’t,” Wu tweeted. That’s when the female Editor-in-Chief charge of the website, Stephanie Anne, decided to intervene. After informing Wu that they were indeed female and in charge of the site, the two started a Twitter chat. But things eventually went south after Stephanie offered to take it to a place with more room for nuance, and privacy. Brianna’s words became condescending. From claiming Stephanie wasn’t mature, to questioning their sources of knowledge, to asserting Wu’s own ideology was beyond their understanding. “Your lack of perspective is gonna hurt people,” Wu told Stephanie. By the end of it, Brianna regressed to flat-out insulting them.
On October 10th 2014, Wu had a speech they gave to 8chan and GamerGate. “The only difference in 8chan/
#gamergate and the asshole Southern racists I grew up surrounded by is they had the balls to leave the house,” they wrote. “My message to you is to go fuck yourselves. I’m not going anywhere,” Brianna then said. Another tweet Wu made before post No. 83800 (their dox) came up – was a screenshot of post No. 83721. Brianna Wu was sitting in that 8chan thread at the time of their dox.
At 19:52:46 that evening, a post on 8chan listed Brianna Wu’s address, email, and phone number. Several minutes after that, Wu was able to jump on Twitter and share what was going on with everybody. The first thing they did is tell everyone that 8chan and GamerGate doxed them, calling it a war on women. Sharing a screenshot from the @chatterwhiteman account, they told everyone they were going to call the police. Next came a picture sharing the whole list of tweets sent to Wu from @chatterwhiteman (including those Brianna retweeted themselves). They would say “Remember, #gamergate isn’t about attacking women,” although the tweets never mentioned that once.
That was it. That was the foundation in which Brianna Wu would define themselves with for the next few years. The next few tweets would demonstrate the dual contrast by which they would present themselves. “I expect to talk to the FBI at some point today. And I’ll still be speaking at NYC Comic-Con on Sunday with @TheMarySue,” Wrote Wu. Brianna said they were scared about the tweets they had gotten, but at the same time they wanted to broadcast this message of wanting to change culture or something.
October 11th was when Brianna Wu talked with Adam Baldwin about GamerGate. While Baldwin has since deleted his side of these conversations, @spacekatgal’s side of it is still up even today. The long and short of it was Wu told Baldwin that the police were investigating the Twitter account that doxed them, and Brianna offered to have a coffee with Baldwin to discuss GamerGate in detail. He declined, due to the fact he wouldn’t be at ComicCon in New York as Wu previously believed. The back and forth between the two seemed to be cordial, up until the 14th. Brianna would then do a complete 180 degree turn in tone – “Actor @AdamBaldwin defamed my character, publicized a libelous video about me and sent an angry mob of 200k people after me,” Wu tweeted. “What is the content of your character, exactly?,” replied Baldwin. Brianna would use that reply as an attack vector against Baldwin. “This is actor @AdamBaldwin and the standards he holds himself to,” Wu said with an accompanying screencap.
- Page 65, File 1 of the GamerGate FOIA files includes an email claiming that SomethingAwful.com allegedly had a hand in doxing Brianna Wu. - Page 83 to 86, File 1 of the GamerGate FOIA files goes over the initial doxing event, and Brianna Wu's interaction with police in the aftermath.
Shortly after, TotalBiscuit would make a twitlonger outlining the proper way to deal with this sort of situation. His advice includes not egging them on, as it creates credibility to the harassers. It encourages them to push the button further. People would observe that this was addressed to Brianna Wu based on aspects of their tweets and online profile. It fit the proactive approach to GamerGate Wu would take, in comparison to what anyone else in the spotlight did at the time. “I am the most harassed target of GG,” Wu claimed on the 25th of October. But going a step further, Brianna tweeted at the end of that month they were starting a legal defense fund for women targeted by GamerGate (more about that, and the legal actions they wanted to take, were expanded on in this blog later on).
While it’s not clear whatever happened to that fund, we can see Wu wasn’t afraid to throw money around. “My parents are millionaire entrepreneurs. I think being in that class growing up affected me more than college,” Wu once claimed. As seen here at the beginning of November 2014, Brianna began making a habit of publicizing any internet trolls and their extremely negative comments. Adding a “please RT,” they’d offer $1000 to anyone who had information as to who was behind these attacks against them.
They’d go as far as to claim anyone who was a minority or female posting in support of the #GamerGate/#NotYourShield hashtag was secretly a man.
But by the 5th, we see Wu’s behavior taken a step further. They posted a link to a Jezebel article about how 4chan was involved in the murder of a woman from Washington state. Although the situation had nothing to do with Brianna personally – “Gamergate, tell me again how my life isn’t in danger,” was their reaction.
At the end of November, and through the beginning of December 2014, Wu’s dog “Crash” suddenly fell ill. Brianna decided to tweet about GamerGate that evening and blame them for comments they saw on YouTube, telling GamerGate that harassment of her online prevented her from taking care of the dying animal. After Crash died a short time later, Brianna made the situation about GamerGate again after a troll account called @crashwu showed up. But on the other side of the coin, there’s tweets from Milo Yiannopoulos that say things like “If I were Brianna Wu’s dog I’d swallow poison willingly,” and “Imagine the poor pooch, forever trying to run out into the road or launch itself off car parks,” as talked about in this article about the ordeal. Later on, Brianna would reflect on Crash’s final hours and causing people to question the circumstances of that night. Brianna’s situation took a left turn on December 5th, when an apology letter was posted allegedly from a former GamerGater. Wu shared another email with a similar message a week later, but it turned out to be a hoax (full email).
From December 18th 2014 through mid January 2015, Wu would be dealing with an internet troll by the name of Jace Connors (they heard about Brianna for the first time on the 11th). When Wu tweeted “Was just sent a graphic video of someone with a knife threatening to murder me,” and later on blaming GamerGate for it. The truth was that someone in a Christmas livestream chat on ParkourDude91’s channel proposed the idea of giving a “fuck you to Brianna Wu,” leading Connors to rant on the topic. Both “sides” (the subreddit of GamerGhazi and Kotaku in Action) thought it was a farce at one point or another. Feel free to make up your own mind on it.
“Yo @Spacekatgal I’m going to shoot guns at you alot In real life!! FUck you!! Im the leader of gamergate!! Also please street race me.Thanks,” Jace wrote to Wu. Internet conflicts would follow Brianna into the next year. Chloe Sagal would go public about an altercation they had with Wu in early January 2015. Sagal needed financial help of some kind, and wanted Brianna’s help to raise awareness to their cause. Wu would be reluctant to do so, causing the ordeal to spiral out of control.
Jace Connors would celebrate New Years 2015 with a livestream, but the festivities were interrupted after someone reported his stream for alleged drug abuse. Connors would publicly accuse Wu of trying to sabotage him. By the 14th of January, Jace would post his plans about a “Black-Level Operation” that according to them involved getting another car, and there was potentially millions of dollars on the line.
On January 30th, Connors would post a video titled “Brianna Wu tried to assassinate me via street racing,” telling of the end results of his plans.
I nearly died in a rollover after borrowing my mother’s Prius to drive to Boston and make a video exposing Brianna Wu for her treachery in the games industry. While on the highway I was “Street Racing” by driving very quickly and challening other drivers, in order to sneak up on Wu un-noticed… Unfortinately she saw me coming and sabotaged my vehicle. As I am typing this, I am crashing at my friend Kyle’s house becuase I believe my life is in danger. I now no longer believe this was a coincidence. I am a US Retired Veteran who is also a vlogger and very interested in GamerGate and trying to root for justice, But i have been ROUTINELY Targeted by trolls from sites such as: 4chan, r/cringe, Tumblr, as well as many Feminists who ABUSIVELY falsely reported my videos for “Sexism” and nearly got my account BANNED when I tried to speak out. I am SICK and/or TIRED of this treatment and I am exposing the truth NOW.
Wu tweeted about it and called the situation “serious stuff,” but encouraged people not to use slurs like “crazy” or “nuts” when describing him. Ghazi accused GamerGate of egging him on, but Kotaku in Action believed it was just an elaborate performance piece by a long-term troll. Wu themselves would claim KiA didn’t take it seriously. But people would question if Brianna was serious about being afraid of it themselves. “has anyone ever actually harmed you, physically? No. Hence, no arrests,” tweeted a skeptic Jamie Walton. Walton would go on to address the bizarre Connors situation directly, saying “You made a game, I assist exploited children. Imo your death threats are BS. Happy to quote to media.” On February 3rd, Wu told Twitter they were getting a restraining order against Connors. The temporary order was later posted online. Tyce Andrews, a partner to Jace Connors, would post a follow-up threat video on February 7th.
On February 11th 2015, Law and Order SVU had an episode that was hyped up by the media to be “GamerGate” related. What this meant to them was that the cast had to deal with a situation that involved a feminist spokesperson who associated with video games, that became the target of a group of homegrown terrorists that got their inspiration from violent gaming. To be like the fictitious “Kill Or Be Slaughtered” title, the terrorist group decided to kidnap the woman. Brianna Wu thought the episode was about them.
- Page 87 to 89, File 1 of the GamerGate FOIA files would detail the in-person interview Wu had the FBI in regards to GamerGate, 8chan's Baphomet board, and Jace Connors.
On the 13th of February, Jamie Walton made a post on Kiwi Farms about their previous encounter with Jace Connors. She confirmed he has a mental illness and is often trolled into acting like he does, confirming his personal situation after talking to the police in his area.
I would like to make it clear, as someone who is a real advocate for sexually abused children (not a pretend one online) I find Brianna’s behavior extremely offensive and to be perfectly honest, BS. No one truly in fear for their life, or experiencing post traumatic stress would actively engage with abusers, taunting them into more interaction. I’ve watched this behavior for months, and I am disgusted by it. It makes my job, assisting real victims, that much harder when she is finally found out by social media.
The money raised by my org, The Wayne Foundation (sorry, you always get the name mixed with my last name) goes towards direct victim services and is audited yearly by a third party for the sake of transparancy. I am NOT a SJW. I hate what Brianna is doing, and have posted to my private FB urging people not to support her lies. I have also tweeted to Brianna over the last few months, urging her to not take Jace seriously. I have attempted to inform her that he is mentally ill, and is being encouraged by trolls who care nothing about him or her. This has fallen on deaf ears.
On February 18th, Brianna Wu backed out of PAX East. The reason they gave at the time was GamerGate apparently made them feel unsafe.
According to their blog post:
Unfortunately, as recent media culture has shown through the depiction of harassment and assault of a female game developer on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, even the best security plans can fail. The bottom line, is that our employees, our team, are more valuable to us than table space, and we are not willing to even consider risking their safety, or privacy, in exchange for a few more eyes on Revolution 60 and our upcoming Giant Spacekittens division title, Cupcake Crisis.
On February 21st, Wu claimed a GamerGater had threatened PAX East with a Sarin gas attack. Not only were some of the tweets listed months old, but the account they had originated from was full of tweets opposing the GamerGate movement. “RT if you think #gamergate should be euthanized,” one read. To put it simply – @elotente was a troll account. But the amount of panic and fear Wu had caused over the bogus ordeal was real in itself. In the days prior, Wu put out a public request to hire some sort of security force for “throw down” purposes, to guard them during the PAX event. This attempt to stir panic continued throughout the end of February, with Wu passively sharing a bomb threat made against them as “not being in violation of Twitter’s TOS,” disregarding any sort of protocol for safety.
- Page 17 to 18, Page 31 to 32, File 2 of the GamerGate FOIA files would shed light onto the actions by law enforcement in response to the PAX bomb threats talked about by Wu. - Page 24 and 25, File 2 of the GamerGate FOIA files summarize the Jace Connors events previously mentioned above.
No threat to the public could stop Brianna Wu though.
Wu started to give talks at colleges, going to University of California Irvine sometime before March 4th. Within the discussion with students, Wu accused Giantbomb of not hiring women or black people, criticize them along with IGN and Game Informer for not covering GamerGate enough, and bring up the Jace Connors situation in addition to the Law and Order “Intimidation Game” episode. The claims leveled against gaming media outlets were not uncommon here, as Wu had made similar remarks online.
Brianna would attempt to over-dramatize moments of these college talks. For example, on March 26th – Wu tweeted “Just encountered a furious Gamergater at that tried to hijack my YSU presentation. Police had to get involved. Expect video to go viral.” Brianna would go on to claim they were worried the person had a bomb in their backpack. A recording of the talk at YSU and the supposed incident was uploaded by April. It currently has 3325 views. Nobody took what Brianna said seriously. On April 8th, Brianna and Frank would make a joint appearance to discuss “Gamergate harassment” in a video. At one point, Brianna read the @chatterwhiteman threats aloud. To which Frank would crack a joke at in response, causing the two to stop and laugh at everything. Brianna and Frank didn’t take the threats seriously either.
On May 20th, Wu would come public with another spectacle. In a piece on the Mary Sue titled “Gamergate Death Threat Is a Slam Dunk for Prosecutors. Will They Act?,” Wu shared a Soundcloud recording of a message that came from Columbus, Ohio. “I’m coming to your fucking house right now. I will slit your throat you stupid little fucking whore. I’m coming, and you’d better be fucking ready for me,” the caller stated. Wu would spend the rest of the piece chastising the lack of “immediate response” (by whatever standard of measurement Wu was using) from the Columbus Ohio district’s prosecuting attorney, Ron O’Brien.
On the 22nd, Columbus Biz Insider revealed to the public Wu never contacted O’Brien before their The Mary Sue piece went up.
Unless your name is Brianna Wu, please stop calling Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien. The Boston video game developer plans to do just that on Friday.Since Wednesday, concerned people have been calling and emailing the prosecutor’s office in response to an online essay by Wu saying O’Brien had not acted on explicit rape and death threats originating from the 614 area code. However, no criminal complaint had been filed in Columbus or with the county, O’Brien told me via email. Wu had never contacted him, and the office had received no recordings or phone number to investigate.
Same day, Wu announced on Twitter they were successful in getting in touch with someone from Columbus. Telling their own Twitter followers to stop swarming them – “You can stop calling his office,” Wu tweeted.
- Page 38 to 41, File 2 of the GamerGate FOIA files talk about the voicemail threat situation. - Page 52 to 75, File 2 of the GamerGate FOIA files detail the interactions Brianna Wu had with law enforcement, as they grew impatient with the progress to their case.
May 28th is when the world found out Brianna’s GamerGate situation first crossed paths with politics. In “House Tells DOJ to Take Gamergate-Style Online Threats Seriously” from Jezebel, Anna Merlan says Massachusetts Congresswoman Katherine Clark was interested in focusing more legal effort on dealing with the issues of threats online. “Since first launching her effort in March, Clark’s office tell us that she’s met with developers Brianna Wu and Zoe Quinn, and worked with domestic violence organizations to convene a Congressional briefing on the issue,” the article said. This statement is verified by a picture posted on Clark’s Twitter account, showing the two having a discussion in her office.
On July 12, Wu was removed as a moderator of GamerGhazi. They previously acquired the position at the end of 2014 in order to participate in the GamerGate discussions related to them, but as time went on tensions began to flare between Wu and the moderators. The final blow came after the Reddit Revolt over Ellen Pao in July 2015, in which Wu came to blame GamerGhazi as being an involved party in the debacle.
October 13th 2015, Wu was worried that Twitter layoffs would have people on the Trust & Safety team being fired. This would apparently remain a big deal for Wu, as they’re seen bringing the subject up again in the weeks that followed. Deciding to tweet at CEO @jack directly – Brianna claimed that accounts they reported had a 15% suspension rate now, compared to the 90% they had before Jack’s return. “Right now, my office is compiling statistics of Twitter’s inability to respond to harassment to send to media. You need to address this ASAP,” Wu tweeted. Brianna had a habit of sharing screenshots of the reports they sent to Twitter, claiming all the accounts they reported were harassing them.
On January 2nd 2016, Wu chose to ring in the New Year by writing an open letter to GamerGate. Brianna called them hypocrites, while at the same time asking them questions as to why they still chose to interact with them. The letter goes on to claim discrediting GamerGate wasn’t their main objective anymore, and acknowledging the vicious cycle of activity that started whenever Wu posted an example of harassment and blaming GamerGate for it. “I have no wish to continue to be the Batman to your Joker,” Wu wrote. That line would be a reference to a series of tweets Wu made back in late 2014 where Brianna compared their own GamerGate situation to what Batman had to deal with. On February 8th, Brianna would tweet something that revealed their open letter to be empty words. In a series of tweets, Brianna claimed their company keeps an eye on GamerGate for what they claim to be risk assessment. “When you’re in Gamergate, you fundamentally lose your ability to assess reality. What I mean is the issues they are angry about aren’t real,” they wrote. It was also here that the presumed association between white supremacy and GamerGate was starting to be used.
When it came to harassment, there was just more of the same from Brianna in 2016. To go over every last bit of it would be like playing a broken record. But when Revolution 60 was prepping for release during that summer some interesting developments took place.
It all started on July 2nd when Brianna announced “I’m going to be streaming
#Revolution60 straight from Steam a bit this morning! Link to come soon!,” on Twitter. You can actually watch the stream for yourself over here on YouTube, along with a copy of the chat that was happening alongside it. Chat logs come in handy, given that Wu would tweet about some of the things that were said.
Every few days, Gamergate tells me they are raping Crash’s corpse. In comment sections, twitch, Twitter, email – you name it. Why am I targeted TO THIS DAY by Gamergate? Because I spoke out about criminal harassment of women while the men in gamedev did NOTHING. I want you to know, you may have moved on. But for me, I am still getting harassed in extreme ways daily. It makes my job hard to enjoy. Every system failed us. Law enforcement, Twitter, the game press, the male leaders in our fields, EVERYTHING. And it is still failing us.
What did Wu provide as proof? A screenshot of that Twitch chat, sharing the words of a user named Goobergator. The user claimed they were indeed “digging up Crash’s corpse and raping it,” but saying that GamerGate as a movement was responsible for that is a stretch. It would take Brianna ten minutes to actually ban that user, whereas other folks like GethN7 lasted under a minute.
Brianna’s Twitter continued to be full of shouting at the media, like this tweet from July 12th.
On July 21st Wu’s relationship with Twitter when it came to reporting harassment was on the rocks. “I’m pretty livid right now. I’m frustrated at Twitter’s complete inability to respond to harassment reports,” they wrote. Brianna would claim there were people who made Twitter accounts for the sole purpose of harassing them, as well anyone Wu interacted with. Addressing Twitter directly – “the women that use your platform have been patient for YEARS. GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER. You suck at your job,” Brianna said. On the 26th, Wu returned to lament once more about their ordeal. Another batch of reports they sent in came back negative, causing Brianna to claim Twitter doesn’t deserve any women on their platform at all.
It’s not my job to fix Twitter. – Brianna Wu
On the 7th of December 2016, Brianna would write a piece trying to connect GamerGate to the Pizzagate ordeal. Wu would connect a man firing a rifle in the Comet Ping Pong pizza shop as somehow being similar to the tweets and communications they received online back in October 2014. Using GamerGate as a springboard for discussing current events and a wide variety of big-picture topics was something Brianna had done often. By December 21st, Wu would associate their harassment ordeal with their congress campaign. “If I’m elected to congress, do you think the @FBI will finally do something about the endless threats on my life?,” they tweeted.
At the time of writing (January 8th 2017), Brianna Wu is still tweeting about people harassing them on Twitter.
What’s the bottom line? The bottom line is Brianna Wu understood the trash talk people send to each other online, and didn’t take it seriously until GamerGate started.
Pictured above is what Wu said in March 2014. Before GamerGate they had the same stance about Women in Tech generally, in regards to harassment related issues. But they clearly demonstrated a distinction between online banter and serious problems. “if I called the cops every time I got a threat? They wouldn’t respond the time I’ll REALLY need them to,” Brianna wrote in a Twitter conversation discussing the topic.
Everything changed with GamerGate, though. There’s indications of what their priorities were with that as well.
“Obscurity is a far bigger threat to creatives than theft,” – Brianna Wu April 2014.
This is what Brianna defined as harassment in December 2014 – “Unleashing swarms of people to yell at people critical of Gamergate IS A FORM OF HARASSMENT – even when it doesn’t involve death threats,” they tweeted. As seen in the Woman in Action media report that analyzed accounts of Twitter harassment, only 12% of them were connected to GamerGate. But Wu was good at making mountains out of molehills. But then in April 2016, Wu would admit to engaging in the type of harassing behavior they had spent the past few years accusing other people of doing. “it really does seem that people will readily accept harassment as long as the right people are doing it,” tweeted Matt Myers. “I agree with this. I stopped sending swarms after people because I realized it was using the same tactic,” replied Wu.
This double standard is best exemplified in how they treated people like Richard Lewis and Totalbiscuit. Lewis was an adviser on the 2015 The Game Awards esports selection panel jury, and Wu took offense at the fact that only one of the overall members was a woman. According to the discussion had on a podcast going on at the time, Brianna may have had a hand in people dropping out of the jury. Slamming Lewis directly, Wu made the assertion that having a Breitbart person on the panel was holding back women in general.
Brianna Wu displays a tendency of publicly shaming and ostracizing people she was at odds with. They themselves would admit to the behavior. “Public pressure is a critical part of changing a culture,” Brianna once tweeted. With Totalbiscuit’s case: At the end of November 2014, the term “PC Master Race” first came under fire from the politically correct on Twitter. Totalbiscuit and Wu would be fairly divided on the issue. Tensions would continue through the New Year after an incident involving TB retweeting a charity stream would get him roped back into the GamerGate feud.
“I am very much fucking done with pretending that Brianna Wu has anything worthwhile to say and is not a colossal attention-seeking hypocrite,” they wrote.
When David Gallant wrote an article criticizing Totalbiscuit and trying to start #ZeroBiscuit as a movement (see: For the Sake of the Industry: No More TotalBiscuit, released 01/25/15), TB’s response would acknowledge Brianna as well.
The idea that I’m friends with Milo when in reality I’ve communicated less with him than bloody Brianna Wu. We could not be further apart on the political spectrum. The idea that I harassed Wu when she in fact harassed me with accusations of “transphobia” not to mention her ridiculous freak-out when I had the audacity to suggest that hey actually, games aren’t full of violent rape it’s a taboo subject that is barely ever referred to much less actually depicted in games.
The next day, Brianna would try and fuel the fire by camping out in the article’s comment section and waiting for some good dirt on TB to come in, so they could take it to Twitter. Wu would go on to deny ever hearing about TotalBiscuit before GamerGate started, but it was later discovered that Brianna had reached out to him back in July 2014 to try and arrange a press copy of Revolution 60 for review on his YouTube channel. Firing back at Wu, TotalBiscuit responded by admitting he was prejudice against “Bratz dolls with PS1 level texture work,” in a subtweet. The incident would come up again later in 2015. At a panel with Patrick Klepek, Wu would talk about John Bain specifically. “You know, like TotalBiscuit, he’s someone who’s very popular in this realm. He’s transphobic, and sexist, and horrible as someone can be, and he has a massive audience. So there’s just… No awareness that this is important. And… I mean, what I do to address it is I put political pressure on him.” At the Grace Hopper Celebration Conference that took place in October of that year, Wu would use that Totalbiscuit tweet mentioned earlier as an example of targeted harassment in their presentation. “One of the most disheartening things about #GHC15 was hearing firsthand from about 30 women keeping a low profile career to avoid #gamergate,” Brianna wrote afterward. However, Wu would get some of their other presentation facts wrong. They shared three pictures of different gaming press outlets (IGN, Giantbomb, and Game Informer) and their staff members, to try and make a point about a lack of woman editors. But when some of the ladies over at IGN got wind of this, they stepped in to correct Brianna for leaving them absent.
Towards the end of 2015, Wu would undermine the legitimacy of their own situation when they decided to compare doxing and death threats to Star Wars spoilers. This led someone to ask Brianna why they didn’t just block GamerGate using a mass-block list of accounts that had been gathered up associated with the movement. Their response?
At the start of 2016, Brianna would confess to retweeting controversial things people said to them in order to send an angry mob after that individual. They went as far as admitting to being a part of the outrage culture problem in the first place. “Let’s be honest about the motivation of callout culture. It’s revenge. They offended you, and now you’re going to hurt them publicly,” they once said. Unlike Zoe Quinn or Anita Sarkeesian, who were much more cautious with what they said online – Wu went all out. They’d had: gone to the media and demanded jail time for death threats, offering large sums of cash for anyone who could prosecute people who harassed them, and conflated GamerGate criticism of them as being the same as harassment.
“One of the most terrifying consequences of Gamergate is I’m a permanent target to be hunted for entertainment, like a Twitter reality show,” Wu still wondered despite all of that. But Brianna didn’t seem to mind the fact the media kept encouraging them by writing articles about tweets.
Having a big and ambiguous boogeyman worked to Wu’s advantage. They could simultaneously blame them for any unflattering Wikipedia edits without any evidence, and then complain that GamerGate was detrimental to them getting any game development work done. One week, Brianna could claim that GamerGate was like the KKK and nobody cared about them. The next? Expect people’s sympathies every time they mention getting a death threat and talking to police, telling the world they don’t want drama. According to Wu, GamerGate could be responsible for pretty much anything.
Brianna wasn’t afraid to call GamerGate a witch-hunt. They painted them as a group of pirates that would hurt Revolution 60‘s sales. GamerGate was so sort of an omniscient mob to Wu, and they wanted to be some sort of martyr to the public. They’d claim they were exhausted from GamerGate nonstop. I would be too, if I thought they were capable of hijacking awards shows and kidnapping my dogs. Wu thought GamerGate was capable of running large spam networks/hijacking twitter accounts and buying ads with them.
The claims of being exhausted when it came to GamerGate seem strange when you consider the fact Brianna Wu had the KotakuInAction subreddit bookmarked on their computer.
Just said to my @blogher liaison, “Things are much better! I haven’t had a death threat for almost a month.” Then realized that’s FUBAR. – Brianna Wu, July 2015.
It’s recommended people deal with death threats privately and to not publicize it. But since GamerGate started, Wu would announce they received: 43 threats in 4 months, 49 threats in 6 months, 83 threats in the last 8 months, 106 threats in 6 months, 108 threats in the past 9 months, 150 threats in the past year, then 200. 1000 harassment reports to Twitter. It was all about the numbers.
All spurred on because Brianna wanted to be the most public figure possible. “You HAVE to be on Twitter. Do you think I would stay if I had a choice?,” Wu tweeted in early February 2016. They claimed to be tired of the internet fighting, but continued to engage in it. “Too many people learned wrong lesson from Gamergate. There are not bad targets. There are bad tactics,” Wu tweeted in the Summer of 2016. It also serves as the closest thing to an inner reflection by Wu that we’ll ever get. Brianna Wu doesn’t have a sense of personal morality, but they do have an idea of what other people in society expect out of someone. It’s about personal image. Whatever maintains the narrative they’ve built around themselves at the time is what they tend to do, collateral damage is considered acceptable to them if necessary to achieving the overall goal.
“@Doakington @BroTeamPill Don’t you have anything better to do than harass me? I just want to make games. If you don’t like it, ignore it,” Wu claimed in September 2016.
If you look at the media efforts that came forth after their dox on October 10th 2014, one would see that Brianna had more on their mind then video games. To put it another way – not only do we need to see what happened to Brianna Wu, we need to start again from the beginning and explore what they did as well.