I’m going to imagine you woke up from a 10-year coma that started on December 31st 2009. Let me catch you up about the past decade in the video game world. Continue reading “The Turbulent 2010s: A Decade of Video Game Controversy”
It was the perfect storm. At the same time, we had incidents from the NBA, Blizzard Entertainment, and South Park all hitting the same controversy. The China problem. What makes this significant is the fact that 1.) it broke into the Western stream of consciousness. 2.) The censorship issues at hand hit sports, video games, and television alike. The iron fist of Xi Jinping takes no prisoners. Jinping is the leader of China. I’d call him the president but he has accumulated so many other secondary leadership titles, that they all mush together into the dictator sort of status you’d expect from an oppressive regime. Continue reading “Don’t Forget About What Happened To Blitzchung”
Writer’s Note: “Hi. What you’re about to read is a complete work of fiction and should not be taken seriously whatsoever. It’s a parody. It’s not real. The goal of the piece is my attempt at expressing the amalgamation of the various GamerGate hit pieces and narratives that have ran over the past five years. I wanted to capture not just their “reality,” but their cumulative perception of reality as well. Continue reading “A GamerGate Hit Piece”
Yesterday VG247 released an op-ed entitled “Game developers, it’s time to stop listening to the fans.” I found the piece so outrageously horrible I decided to come out of retirement from talking about video games and respond to it. GamerGate was almost five years ago and still some people have learned nothing. It’s wild to come across a repackaged “Gamers don’t have to be your audience” narrative after all this time. Continue reading “Game Developers, It’s Time To Stop Listening To VG247”
I look at Bastion the robot and I see someone who wants to get down to business. Someone that shoots first, and asks questions never. They’re cold. Calculated. Built for a purpose. Continue reading “Editorial: In Defense of Bastion”
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
Part 1 of this series talked about Brianna Wu’s battle with Twitter. They were addicted to it, but a side-effect of that was the fact people would actually say things to Wu they disagreed with. In Part 2, we analyze how Wu and the media worked together hand-in-hand to spread Brianna’s message. Whatever that might be.
“A consequence of Gamergate is the press more hesitant about discussing Giant Spacekat or the work we do. They’re literally hurt my business,” Brianna Wu said in a tweet on September 21st, 2014. By the end of that year Wu was named in Polygon’s Top 50 Admirable Gaming People of 2014, with the harassment drama that was on display over the past few months becoming inseparable from anything on a Game Developer job description basis. Brianna Wu wrote a blog post called “My Career is not about Stopping Gamergate” to try and deny that.
Before GamerGate started, Wu barely registered on the media’s radar. The occasional Gamasutra mention here and there, and a piece about Revolution 60 every so often, and a few from Polygon – but that was it. But when GamerGate arrived, Wu took that and pushed themselves into the public eye with it as much as humanly possible.
And it began on the night of October 10th with that @chatterwhiteman incident. Gameranx and Venture Beat were the first two places to cover it, doing so that very evening. By the 11th: Boston Globe, BoingBoing, Huffington Post, Niche Gamer, Recode, Polygon, and The Verge followed suit. This was the same pattern of behavior that GamerGate had come to expect after the Gamers are Dead articles released closely to one another at the end of August 2014. But this time there was more. On October 12th: Arcade Sushi, Bostinno, Bustle, Buzzfeed, CHUD, Daily Mail, and even local mainstream outlets like Boston’s FOX News affiliate picked up the story.
The Brianna Wu incident pushed GamerGate discussion beyond containment of the gaming community. Pushing out from the industry and the circle of usual outlets, to the rest of the world.
The first time most folks in GamerGate got to first see Brianna Wu on video was when they saw them on MSNBC’s The Reid Report on October 13th. It was here that Wu, along with Eric Johnson of Recode, brought GamerGate to the mainstream for the first time. This was the first instance of the movement being mentioned outside the confines of their corner of the internet, and now it was reaching the homes of a national audience. Brianna claimed sites like Giantbomb weren’t adequately covering their situation to the best of their ability, seemingly slamming gaming journalism for being too tame on the harassment angle. That same day, Patrick Klepek put out an article on the Wu Twitter incident over at Giantbomb, directly slamming the movement as something born out of “incidents of extreme harassment” and denying any assertions of unethical journalism as meritless.
But there’s more to it than the MSNBC reveal. When Brianna Wu went on TV that day, they were also skipping out on being a guest on the Milo Yiannopoulos show, Radio Nero. The reason this is relevant is due to the fact it would go against the message of reaching out and trying to have a discussion with GamerGate directly. Brianna’s intentions with their media circuit would be brought under scrutiny, as the excuses for bailing out leveled against Milo wouldn’t be taken without a grain of salt. GamerGate had grown more attached to Milo in his efforts to cover the movement, and when he made a blog post explaining the situation in detail it made him look like the more mature party. In a motion of transparency, Yiannopoulos shared the extensive list of questions he intended to ask Wu in the first place.
On October 14th, VICE connected the @chatterwhiteman tweets to Brianna as being GamerGate’s fault. In a piece titled “Does Someone Have to Actually Die Before #GamerGate Ends?,” the author mentions Wu’s incident from the evening of October 10th. They proceed to analyze the reaction from members of the movement, in addition to summarizing the events of the past few months.
GamerGate, to date, has taught us nothing. OK, maybe it’s taught us that certain men are horrible and have no shame in announcing their hatred of women to the world in the most hideous manner available to them. If GamerGate really was about ethics, Wu or Sarkeesian wouldn’t be going through what they are.
It didn’t exactly correlate the two things directly. There was harassment going on with Brianna Wu, and there was GamerGate. These two separate things were only linked together because Wu themselves said so. The same day during a HuffPost Live interview between Brianna Wu, Fredrick Brennan of 8chan, and Erik Kain, Fredrick told Brianna “8chan’s not all about you,” on air. CNN would also do a video report on the Brianna Wu situation that day. Wu had also begun to write articles about their situation themselves, whenever possible. As seen in the case of “IT HAPPENED TO ME: I’ve Been Forced Out Of My Home And Am Living In Constant Fear Because Of Relentless Death Threats From Gamergate” on XOJane. By the 20th, ten days after the @chatterwhiteman incident – Wu wrote a piece on the Washington Post asking why men weren’t rallying behind female gamers.
October 21st was one of the first times Wu would use the articles written about them as leverage. GamerGate’s boycott campaign against gaming media outlets had started to gain traction from advertisers, and that day Adobe had acknowledged GamerGate directly – stating that they weren’t advertising on Gawker in the first place, and would ask the website to remove their logo from mention. GamerGate had used Sam Biddle’s tweets as ammunition for their letter writing campaign to advertisers, and Adobe told GamerGate the company had an anti-bullying stance. Wu came into the picture by tweeting Adobe about GamerGate and linking them to an article the Guardian had written about Brianna’s harassment situation. Wu would later announce they were able to get in touch with Adobe, telling people to “Stay tuned,” in a tweet. The final results came a week later with a blog post from Adobe, clarifying their position on the GamerGate controversy.
On October 27th, Brianna Wu would be on the David Pakman Show. “Brianna Wu accused me of doing a hit piece attack interview on gamergate today. Interview will be posted later,” he tweeted. This set in motion how the tone of the conversation between the two took a downward turn. The interview itself was a spectacle. While it’s recommended to watch the whole thing, tensions flared up at the end of it. The next day, Milo Yiannopoulos took his turn in the David Pakman hot seat. Following the same sort of pattern as the Radio Nero incident, Milo was able to time his moves carefully in order to appear as the more mature party in the conversation.
This would be further exacerbated when Brianna Wu made these comments on November 1st:
When 8chan’s owner and head administrator Fredrick Brennan went on the same program a week later (November 5th), the headliner of the video was that he denounced Brianna Wu’s doxing and harassment. But that didn’t make a difference to Wu, personally. They’d line up an interview with Katherine Cross and Feministing called “Standing in the Firing Squad: An Interview with Brianna Wu” on the 7th. Cross was a close associate of Anita Sarkeesian, so they’d be able to push the cultural angle of the GamerGate narrative even more to the media.
“I’m so sick of news with clickbaity headlines, I’m just going to pay for the NYT.” – Brianna Wu
On December 3rd, Keith Stuart wrote a GamerGate piece over on The Guardian. While it mostly focuses on Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian, Brianna Wu’s situation is also brought up. The timeline at the end takes the effort to mention the fact Wu shared a meme some GamerGate people thought was offensive, and he describes that as a motive in the accusation that GamerGate was responsible for Brianna’s doxing. However, any mention of Brianna Wu creating a fake Twitter account in the month beforehand is absent. Al Jazeera America had a GamerGate segment on December 9th, with Wu prominently featured at the center of it.
On December 15th Georgina Young wrote a piece on TechRaptor about why Brianna Wu should take a break from Twitter. Wu would display how closely they watched what the media said about them, when they told Young they “don’t appreciate that description of me,” when Georgina called Wu controversial. To clear things up, it was revealed that Wu and Young were in touch directly, wherein Wu expressed their approval at the contents of Georgina’s article. Earlier that same day, Brianna had gotten into a Twitter fight with Oculus staff after asserting their team had a lack of diversity based on a picture they posted. Right after that, Wu attacked the Unity Asset Store Twitter account because they mentioned the fact that breasts are a part of anatomy. The next day they joined in praising Steam Greenlight for removing the video game Hatred, claiming that the games industry needed to raise their standards and look at themselves.
To understand what was going on, there’s a revealing tweet from Wu. “We CAN make any message we want. As an industry, what kind of message SHOULD we make?,” they wrote. Brianna’s plan was to go all-in on their criticism of GamerGate and the industry itself. In a now deleted tweet made a few days later they remarked “I’m a bitter to pull this much agro for the team while everyone else gets to make games.”
On January 21st 2015, Wu would shine a spotlight on a petition to revoke Adam Baldwin’s invitation to the Supernova Pop Culture Expo. Brianna would accuse Baldwin of being problematic in making geek culture open to women. “This is very straightforward: Are you comfortable with bullies in geek culture? Because @AdamBaldwin is a sexist bully. He needs to go,” Wu tweeted. “RT if you want this bully gone,” said another. Brianna would deny it was because of any past altercation between the two personally. Media sites like The Daily Dot would fan the flames.
On February 9th, Brianna Wu would do a VentureBeat interview talking about GamerGate in greater length. Its at this point in the timeline that the argument Brianna Wu is fanning the flames of GG and essentially keeping the public’s attention to it alive starts to gain traction. Certainly, it might’ve not been positive press entirely. But sparking people’s curiosity to check the situation out for themselves is undeniable.
Capitalizing on the Law and Order SVU episode that would be airing that evening (February 11th), Brianna Wu released a piece called “I’m Brianna Wu, And I’m Risking My Life Standing Up To Gamergate” on Bustle.com. Wu used the Jace Connors situation as their opening paragraph, and set it up as if that farce was on the same level as the events that would be depicted on television that evening. They proceeded to try and use all that as a means of connection to the problems of harassment in the tech industry. Out of nowhere, Brianna Wu says “I am calling on the Obama administration to arrest and prosecute Fredrick Brennan, the owner of 8chan,” at the tail end of their article. Even though Wu was previously aware that Brennan disavowed any harmful activities against them that were occurring on his site.
Brianna would use the Bustle article in their public attack on Ethan James Petty (a Ubisoft employee and a writer on the Watch Dogs video games). They made a callout tweet tagging him and Ubisoft together with a link to Wu’s article, claiming that they’d “love to talk” about why Petty doesn’t think GamerGate is a hate group. Brianna claimed Ethan’s thoughts are problematic for women, making them question if they’d want to work for Ubisoft. “I encourage @ubisoft to reach out. We’ll have a conversation re: your comments and how they’ve affected women working there,” Wu said. They’d go on to accuse Ethan of being a detriment to the company’s ability to hire talented people, calling him ignorant on the issues in the gaming industry.
February 24th is when Buzzfeed came out with a story that explained Jace Connors was kidding around, revealing to the world he was a professional troll. Gawker would follow suit in writing a similar story about them. Jezebel didn’t seem too enthusiastic to hear the story they reported on earlier that month was a hoax. It would end up being one of the few things Wu actually writes about to their Patreon supporters.
CBS News releases “Video game designer drops out of convention over death threats” on February 26th. The Boston Globe would eventually become a prominent outlet for Brianna Wu stories, covering the PAX East situation in detail, starting with one called “Brianna Wu on why Gamergate trolls won’t win” on March 4th. They ended up pushing another about it on the 8th. WGBH News (a Boston area media outlet) was able to get an interview with Amanda Warner, the other co-founder of Giant Spacekat. Boston seemed to have a likening to Wu, a Massachusetts denizen.
Inc Magazine would do a lengthy piece about GamerGate and Wu in April 2015, “Brianna Wu vs. the Troll Army”. The author of that one followed Brianna around for a month in order to get an accurate picture of them as a person for their article. “Every word of @davidwhitford’s piece is accurate. Ask him if I represent myself honestly – he did a LOT of fact checking,” Wu commented about it later on. Around the same time, Brianna and an employee of their’s would join in on a collaborative article over on Cracked.com – “5 Ways The Gaming Industry Is Way More Sexist Than You Think”. Wu would end up throwing TheRalphRetort out of their panel after they believed Ralph was instigating conflict based on their previous interactions. On the 27th Brianna said they would be “keynoting law enforcement’s National Cybercrime Conference,” but that wasn’t accurate. According to a press release from the event, Howard A. Schmidt was the person that did the keynote address.
In May 2015, Boston Magazine made a long GamerGate article and included a section about Brianna in there. On the 7th, they were a guest at a Hate Crimes in Cyberspace talk that took place over at MIT, hosted by legal scholar Danielle Citron. The National would include Wu in their Social Media Shaming video released on May 12. An abridged version highlighting Brianna’s part of the video is available here, along with an open comments section. The media tour would continue with Inspirefest 2015 – which took place in June, and Wu did a speech there about sexism in the gaming industry.
June 16th 2015. Brianna Wu would go after PC Gamer because they believed the outlet didn’t invite any women speakers for their E3 coverage. “The program doesn’t reflect the final roster that’s on stage, to be clear,” Editor-in-Chief Evan Lahti replied. Brianna Wu responded with indifference in return, accusing Lahti of bad optics and hurting women because of that webpage.
Here’s a video of AMD CEO Lisa Su, at the exact PC Gamer E3 conference Wu is talking about.
June 23rd had Wu giving a speech about Women in Tech at DevNation.
July 3rd 2015, Brianna and the media that covered them would shift their attention to the gaming industry as a whole. Blaming all of it instead of individual elements when it came to covering their harassment ordeal. But as seen in this Slashdot AMA from July 14th, the internet-at-large would still have a whole host of unanswered questions. But that doesn’t mean Brianna didn’t take the time to reply. They did that on the 22nd, picking and choosing a la carte what they wanted to talk about. “First of all, if you are “neutral” on the horrific abuse many women have suffered at the hands of Gamergate, you are a part of the problem,” Wu wrote. On July 11th, Brianna joined the Society of Professional Journalists. It’s unclear by this point if they were serious about it, or if it was done in jest to mock GamerGate’s SPJ Airplay event that would be happening in August.
July 13th. Wu would be featured in a Playboy Magazine article titled “6 Women Whipping the Video Game Industry Into Shape,” demonstrating the shift in presentation Brianna would take in the public eye. At the end of that month, CBC Ombudsman Esther Enkin would publish a response to the complaints about how GamerGate was introduced in regards to Wu’s appearance on the Q program back in February 2015 (they were also on it in October 2014 after their initial Twitter incident) , with the final verdict being that it didn’t live up to journalistic standards. William Usher wrote a whole article specifically about this, but what it boiled down according to the Ombudsman was as follows:
Given the level of controversy, to state that “GamerGate is an online movement that harasses and threatens women” is too unequivocal. CBC journalistic policy demands clarity in its use of language. I strongly suggest that when harassment of women gamers is being discussed the language should be very precise and nuanced. Like many controversial issues, both sides point to definitive ‘facts’ or narratives to prove their point. This is far too amorphous for that to be the case.
It was all about word choice and presentation. The introduction for Wu during the #BlogHer Conference on July 18th was incredibly vague and bland when it came to describing what Brianna actually did for a job. In regards to being precise and nuanced, Brianna Wu was lacking in that department by August 2015. “I have fought and bled on the front lines for WIT. I have done unpaid work all year. I have suffered unspeakable trauma,” they tweeted at the time. The failure to provide a clearer understanding to the public about what that means exactly (providing specific examples at the time of using those descriptors and so forth) – this “culture conversation” Wu was attempting to have, wouldn’t yield any tangible results in the long-term.
That divisive sort of rhetoric from Brianna is what caused GamerGate to get lost in the shuffle. The more Wu talked about GamerGate, the effect and impact of their words was progressively and gradually watered down. On the 13th of August Brianna demanded a tech blog called The Loop retract their article about Apple’s diversity statistics improving from 2014. They thought the 2015 numbers weren’t enough of an improvement to define it as progress. The author, Jim Dalrymple, politely declined and felt personally insulted by Wu’s claims. As seen here in this NBC piece from August 19th, Wu’s own story is only a part of the article. Alongside them are stories related to Reddit (well, “anti-Reddit”) and Github. Specific sorts of horror stories about harassment, lumped together into an article intended to critique issues in the broadest way imaginable. Supporting this is a piece from the 21st of August – Wu marking the first anniversary of GamerGate with an article on the Guardian. “The women that make your games are war-weary, exhausted by a cultural battle that we never asked for. We are professionals trying to do our job, screamed at by children who don’t want girls in their clubhouse,” they wrote. Wu’s shift in focus from GamerGate to the gaming industry as a whole would continue on the 26th, when they returned to Huffpost Live to do another interview about the topic. The anti-GamerGate subreddit GamerGhazi posted some notes on it. BuzzyMag.com would get a turn interviewing Brianna on the 27th.
But don’t let me define what Wu’s stated goal was. Let them tell you. “It’s frustrating to have to spend my time holding the game industry to basic standards when the press is unwilling to,” Wu tweeted. Further, from a blog post on August 31st 2015:
From the beginning, I have had a single goal as a public figure in the game industry. It’s something that I think many people don’t understand when I read articles about how I want to censor all games, or ban all white men from being developers, or usher in a feminist totalitarian state. None of that is true. They have to misrepresent my position, because what I actually want is so eminently reasonable. So, here it is – my actual mission in bold:My mission objective is to raise professional standards about diversity in the game industry.
Brianna Wu would occasionally write pieces of their own on sites like Polygon. Sometimes about harassment drama or broad topics like that (as seen here in July 2014, before GamerGate even started) but also simpler things like this September 2015 piece on how you can play Metal Gear Solid 5 as a woman. But the shift in priorities becomes more prevalent. It wasn’t about video games. Rather, Wu would be in it for discussions about gender and race (sometimes) in tech/pop culture. Brianna started to make remarks about women’s roles in movies, and eventually at least one outlet took them seriously. “What would you do if you had a large platform to speak from?,” Wu asked Twitter one day. “I’m going to make all the difference I can, while I can. Sadly, enduring endless barrage of personal attacks is part of changing the world,” they said in a reply to themselves.
One of Brianna’s admitted issues was a lack of focus on their own company. Attention was drawn away from their company and game development with all the feminism related activities they filled their days with. Looking at how Brianna’s Twitter bio has changed over the past few years helps illustrate the identity crisis they were having. On the 9th of October Brianna would admit they weren’t well liked because of the fact they were “assertive” in how they interacted with others. Wu also had a problem with showing specific examples of what happened to them. An example on October 14th has Wu saying “When my dog Crash died, #gamergate sent me pictures of mutilated dogs to celebrate,” but the picture they attached is more telling. Instead of providing examples of this happening, Brianna decided to link a screenshot of the Huffington Post article about it instead. None of the links used in that piece when it’s talking about the incident directly correlate GamerGate to the tweeters. Wu said they were, but that doesn’t mean it’s true. Does this look like a mutilated dog to you? Then on October 20, Wu would return to VentureBeat for another interview with Dean Takahashi. In “For Brianna Wu, VR offers a chance to broaden gaming and escape Internet hate” we get a transcript of the conversation between the two as it took place at the GamesBeat 2015 conference (gamesindustry.biz wrote a piece in the week prior describing the main idea Wu was trying to get at). On the 27th, Wu would do a video about what they described as a lack of empathy in gaming culture.
Then came the SXSW ordeal. The media would drag this one out over the course of several months. From when the controversy first started out, to when the actual conference took place.
Huffington Post releases an article titled “Tech’s Harassment Problem Is Much Bigger Than This SXSW Catastrophe” on October 27th. A controversy had recently broken out involving two panels that were supposed to be at SXSW, each of which had taken opposite stances on GamerGate. Rather than dealing with any headaches trying to sort the ordeal out, the organizers decided to just cancel both of them. Brianna claimed it wasn’t a two sides sort of situation, calling GamerGate criminal harassers. “As I understand it, the “Open Gaming Alliance,” has been suspended from Twitter for harassing me and others. It was openly planned on KiA,” Wu tweeted. That claim would be completely false. Open Gaming Alliance is a separate organization that had nothing to do with the SXSW situation. This was where the shift in Brianna’s focus starts revealing itself. “If they don’t reverse course, they are going to turn the public perception of the conference into one that is hostile to women,” Wu said in the HuffPost article. This is when Brianna would go full on megaphone. Slamming SXSW’s organizers, Wu told people to share a story from The Daily Beast that Brianna implied was how the conference reacted behind the scenes when dealing with the situation. On the 28th, Inc. Magazine and The Boston Globe jumped in on the fervor too.
Wu came to think of the work they did as a punishment. At the end of November 2015, Brianna would appear in an Entertainment Weekly article about how an all-inclusive gaming industry is profitable. Sponsored by Hyundai. Wu would continue to attempt to dictate the direction of the gaming industry when they went after The Game Awards that year, as described in this article on MTV. “So,
@MTVNews’s @ShaunnaLMurphy wrote about women being excluded from the Game Awards. My quotes are fairly brutal,” they said about it.
The reason Wu was able to spend most of their 2015 going around on a media parade to talk about GamerGate and the issues of diversity and online harassment is because of their Patreon account. “Behind the scenes, I have helped change policies of major companies. I’ve had 100s of phone calls this year encouraging diversity,” they tweeted. That wasn’t the only thing Wu did behind the scenes. At one point, they publicly admitted to exerting pressure on the website to ban 8chan from using it. This was a result of a long and drawn out campaign over the allegation that 8chan condones child pornography. Similar to their “productive call” with Adobe in October 2014, by the end of December that year Wu had a similar telephone conversation with Patreon. This of course was after Brianna had floated the idea of encouraging people to cancel their accounts in protest and told the masses on Twitter to send messages to Patreon about the 8chan rumors. “I’ve said this before, changes to
@patreon are coming. I know unsavory people are using it, but this will not last long. Trust me,” Wu stated.
Although the purpose of the account is unclear, seemingly changing from its initial stated goal when it started on December 19th 2014. On January 7th, Brianna announced that they hired an employee to deal specifically with internet harassment. This person would handle the
@gsxoffice twitter account (identified by Wu themselves here), which hasn’t been in use for the past year by the looks of it right now. They’d refer to this account whenever they mentioned something involving Twitter related matters, like making block lists.
Hey, this is Brianna Wu. So, if you are/were one of my Patreons — please write me at [email protected] I’m more than willing to introduce you to the woman we hired. We can do a three-way call. Here are some facts. There are litrerally hundreds of journalists, venture capitalists, tech insiders, law enforcement people and other professionals that know her. In fact, the Gaurdian requested an interview with her yesterday. We’re also working on a joint piece with our ample harassment data for one of the biggest news sites in the world.
Look, I was willing to entertain the outside chance you were legit — even though the odds were astronomical this was Gamergate. But give me a break, this is the adult world. I wasn’t born yesterday. Or, as we said in Mississippi growing up, I didn’t fall off the turnip truck. If you’re legit, write us, we’ll check your name against our records — and have a phone call with the person you think doesn’t exist. But you’re not legit.
From January to March 2016, the big thing going on for Brianna Wu was the SXSW conference.
On the 26th of January, Wu said “Like the Game Awards, #sxsw only nominated white men for YouTube work. This isn’t about diversity, it’s about bias,” in a tweet. The accompanying picture they posted showed the finalists for the #SXSWGamingAwards Most Entertaining Online Personality category. While Brianna claimed it was only white men who were nominated, two of the people in the picture (Markiplier and Joe Vargas) were not that. Vargas himself would reply to Wu by clarifying to them they were a “proud Hispanic,” seemingly surprised that didn’t qualify as diverse anymore.
During this time, Wu continues with speaking engagements. One such occasion was on BBC Three’s “The Dark Side Of Gaming – The Females Fighting Back” (aired February 17th 2016) where they had a segment. Brianna showed up for the Gaymer X conference on March 1st to speak at the Gaming While Trans panel.
Brad Glasgow would make a series of tweets (archive of the chain) reporting on what was being said at Wu’s panel as it was happening on March 12th 2016. The morning of the show, Wu would panic at the notion that Milo of Breitbart was possibly given press credentials for the event. Brianna took the opportunity to slam GamerGate’s deepfreeze.it website, claiming it went disproportionately after female journalists (proven false). Next Wu claimed someone impersonated them in order to get their college records. Then Wu asserted GamerGate went after their veterinarian when their dog was dying (actually Brianna themselves had publicly attacked their Vet on Twitter at the time). On a more positive note, Brianna Wu talked about how Twitter was working hard to address harassment. The sentiments weren’t shared with Wu’s opinions on Facebook and Reddit, however. According to Glasgow, Brianna had Spacekat studios take matters into their own hands. In what was described as an “experiment,” they posted (presumably) negative comments on YouTube in order to gauge if they would be removed. Wu proposed a rather broad solution to harassment – asking that social media websites submit themselves to the authority of an independent auditor, and making changes based on what they think is necessary. Brianna rounded off the panel by demanding Kotaku in Action’s subreddit and 8chan be shut down permanently. This is a stance that Wu would later apply to their thoughts 4chan as well. The same day, The Daily Dot did a spotlight feature on what Wu’s conference at SXSW was about. Eventually, thenextweb.com came out with one as well. It was praised as being more even-handed in their take on the situation.
On the 13th, we’d come to find out that not everyone on Brianna’s side of the aisle were pleased with their behavior. Randi Harper would make a series of remarks about the SXSW conference, indicating they believed Wu was incapable of finding solutions to the problems they alluded to when they spoke at events. “I wanted to back out the second I found out the Godzilla of feminism was going to be there because I knew I was going to get stomped on,” Harper wrote. This sentiment would not be a one-time thing, as Randi would continue to distance themselves from Brianna in the months to come.
Continuing their media tour, Wu would surface in a CNN Money preview video on March 16th for their “The Internet Ruined My Life” episode on SyFy. The official website for the SyFy show had “Brianna sends a tweet supporting women’s rights in the gaming industry and wakes up to thousands of gamers calling for her death,” when describing Wu’s situation. The episode itself was basically a rehash of what’s been said already, but over-dramatized with actors and edited with special effects to give it a TV sort of feel. They’d specifically associate Jace Connors and Tyce Andrews as being somehow connected to the GamerGate movement, despite the fact Wu themselves previously acknowledged it being a hoax. According to Brianna, they did it to get their story out there. But there would be skeptics as a result. One of the ways Brianna decided to address concerns was with a thumbs-down emoji. Multiple times.
It boiled down to 10 minutes. Many things I said didn’t make it. Also, here’s another false assumption you are making. When you do reality show, the producer is asking you questions. In this case, they asked me what I was feeling that moment. That day, it was a strange interview because if I spoke for more that three sentences, producer would stop me. Eventually, I assumed I was narrating a reenactment. So, I stuck to just saying what I felt at the time.
At the end of the month, Brianna tweeted they were a part of a book called “Women in Tech,” which was essentially a compilation of stories (funded by Kickstarter), with Wu’s included. This wasn’t a complete surprise out of left field for most folks, as there was an effort to make people aware of it beforehand (including a February 2015 Reddit AMA that got removed because the OP asked for upvotes on Twitter).
The transition from game developer to self-proclaimed diversity spokesperson was complete. The internet didn’t “ruin” Brianna Wu’s life. They used that doxing incident as a stepping stone for themselves. On April 2nd, Wu tweeted “With elections coming up, I’ll be heading to DC on Monday for several meetings with policy makers.” This was the same person who only a few years prior was primarily a game developer. Here they were traveling around to colleges on April 15th talking about social and cultural issues.
The Winnipeg Free Press did an interview with Wu in May 2016, when they were there for the Spur Winnipeg 2016 conference. But that began to not matter to Brianna anymore. “Geek culture is the one that’s turned into a supervillian, not Captain America. When did we become the bullies?” Wu lamented at the end of that month. They talked about the cultural victory Geeks had accomplished in the last few decades. “We became the bully stereotypes our heroes fought against. It’s disgusting. Another thing we blasted in the 90s was religious right, declaring culture blasphemous. It’s not the religious right anymore. It’s us,” they added.
In July 2016, Wu had involvement in another book – titled Women in Game Development: Breaking the Glass Level-Cap, with a chapter dedicated to them in particular. Kotaku wrote an article about it. But by then, Brianna’s attention had turned to political matters.
August 25th 2016. “I love that Clinton’s attack ad specifically names the alt-right, which includes Gamergate,” Wu tweeted. The first time the US presidential elections and Brianna Wu really started to come together was on September 4th. A campaign account for Hillary Clinton tweeted a bustle.com piece Wu had written in response to a recent speech Hillary gave in Nevada at that time. The main message of the speech was Hillary telling voters about Donald Trump’s campaign chief Steve Bannon and Breitbart. Wu would make the assertion that GamerGate is connected to the alt-right and white supremacy, linking Ben Garrison cartoons as evidence. On September 6th, Brianna would link to a piece from this very website when they first heard news of Ethan Ralph’s arrest. “I intend to call prosecutor’s office today – and give the background on Ralph and what he’s done to women. He should not be given leniency,” Wu said. They intended to increase the odds of Ralph getting a harsher sentence. Brianna even offered up their email as a tips line, for anyone who could help corroborate evidence against Ralph’s case. Wu penned their own article about it for The Daily Dot.
It also ended up on the Washington Post on September 9th:
Ralph was also accused of “doxxing” game designer Brianna Wu — publishing documents containing her personal information online. Wu fled her home in 2014 after receiving death threats. “After he published the information . . . the posts [were] truly terrifying,” Wu said in an interview. “It puts so much information out there in one place, it puts a target on my back.” She added: “I think he attacks women in the gaming industry because it’s trying to fill some hole in his heart.” Ralph denied wrongdoing. As some on social media criticized Ralph for his arrest, Ralph described it as “a personal issue that I got myself into.” He said he hoped his case wouldn’t be turned into “an alt-right or a Gamergate issue,” but thought it inevitable.
Just did an interview where I was asked how it feels be one of the most prominent figures for women in tech. You know how it REALLY feels? Like I didn’t ask for this fight. It fight was brought to me. I’m not doing anything but asking to be treated like a human being by gamedev
Their words have no meaning. Back then, Brianna had acquired the same media resources as they did when responding to GamerGate. One time, Wu wrote an April 2014 piece on The Mary Sue responding to GitHub’s internal investigation into harassment allegations made against them. Here’s how Brianna got the ball rolling on making that one happen. Wu spent time making the media connections they’d utilize after GamerGate started up. They showed an overall sense of awareness as to what they thought gaming journalism was as well. Brianna also did panels about sexism in the gaming industry back then, as well as try to get people fired.
“Obscurity is a far bigger threat to creatives than theft,” Wu tweeted in April 2014. Brianna focused their interests on people they thought were important (measured by Twitter followers). They’d want a social media website where journalists and celebrities had priority. If you were a nobody, you’d be treated with indifference, mocking, and ridicule. Wu could point out something about someone’s religion and make fun of them about it, but when tables are turned? Brianna abhors the behavior they themselves are guilty of.
But the catalyst that sustained Brianna’s platform was their views on political topics. “I don’t usually discuss right/left politics, because I think women’s equality should be an non-partisan issue,” they tweeted at somebody. Brianna reminded Twitter that they were making a video game from time to time, mostly when it came to sharing tweets of harassment. Wu would claim they worked to get a chance to release articles for media outlets (like with Glenn Fleishman and Macworld), but the truth is also Brianna was able to do that based on connections.
“I’m a progressive that likes to get stuff done,” they said.
Brianna Wu is someone that thinks: men can hurt women’s rights unintentionally, that sexism is a male behavior problem, in structural sexism, that straight white men are in a position of power and privilege, and that white supremacy and violent misogyny are related to each other. According to Wu, issues of feminism and race were intertwined. Brianna believes it’s important that white people stay clear of black related issues. That wouldn’t stop Wu from trying to relate to that whenever they could, however. When Justice Anton Scalia died, Brianna celebrated the fact he would no longer be a judge and made it about themselves. “I think Scalia was terrible. One of the worst judges in history of SCOTUS for my rights. Just a nightmare,” Wu tweeted.
By the time the 2016 Elections came around, Wu (and others) took what they did to GamerGate and applied it to Bernie Sanders. “You were an asshole,” Brianna said at one point during an evening Twitter discussion with one of his supporters. Calling them BernieBros, what it boils down to is they’d accuse his supporters of harassment. The reason for this ire was most likely due to Brianna tending to be a Hillary supporter. “I expect her to be the nominee and will enthusiastically vote for her,” they had said. Although to be fair, Wu flip-flopped a bit on the topic. But they weren’t afraid of mocking people who liked Bernie Sanders, certainly. Brianna counted Sanders out before the nominations were finalized, claim Glenn Greenwald harassed them for being pro-Clinton, and by the end of July they had pretty much folded into Hillary’s corner. Election postmortem, Wu confessed they were wrong about Hillary’s chances and believed Bernie would’ve won against Trump.
It all came to a head the week of Election Day on November 8th. Brianna had somehow acquired press credentials from Bustle, and was able to go to the actual event the Clinton campaign was intending to have that evening. They even wrote an article to help rally people to vote, while still having the time to try and associate GamerGate with Donald Trump. When the Election results started to go in Trump’s favor, Wu turned on a dime and went from optimistic to concerned. “I can barely stand, I’m so nervous. I’ve never been this scared in my life,” Brianna tweeted. They quickly alluded to a worst case scenario where people under Obamacare and transgenders would die under a Trump administration, according to them. As Clinton supporter emotions turned bleak that evening, Brianna said sexual assault was now being normalized.
“Now that sexual assault has been normalized in America, women in your life expect it to happen to them and to their friends” – Brianna Wu, November 10th 2016.
“Here she is, the first woman accepting the presidency – showing unequivocally that America denounces the hatred and xenophobia of Trump,” Brianna tweeted on the 9th, after the Election results had come in. Wu said they were crying in public with a Muslim woman as they were checking out the hotel. On Twitter, they told LGBT people their best option was to abandon their friends and family and leave “Red States” as quick as possible. The state of grieving didn’t stop Brianna from talking to the media, however. When they turned their profile picture black as a response to the results from the previous night, mic.com wrote about it.
“I spoke with
@BuzzFeed today about possibly running for office in Massachusetts in the aftermath of Trump,” Wu wrote on November 10th. Coming full circle – Brianna told Buzzfeed they were planning on running for office. They described Wu as a victim of GamerGate, and described Brianna’s initial platform as something focused on diversity and bringing jobs to tech sectors.
Brianna Wu’s intention in running for Public Office is to pass the sort of legislation they had vied for during the GamerGate years.
That’s it for Part 2. In Part 3, we examine Revolution 60, and how the things mentioned here and in Part 1 play a role in how Wu responded to development of their game, and within topics surrounding the gaming industry as a whole.
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.
Imagine a Pokemon game with an abundant amount of content. Going to a whole new region, Pokemon Prism was set to let you travel around the Naljo region, with new cities and environments to explore. Much like how the classic Gold and Silver games let you go back to Kanto, Prism was a rom-hack that would revisit the other game made by the same creator, going to Pokemon Brown‘s Rijon region. Continue reading “Pokemon Prism Project Shutdown by Nintendo”
As is custom, most gaming journalists normally write up some sort of list of their top favorite games. Mine here is a list of games I kept an eye on, or enjoyed particularly. Feel free to agree or disagree to your heart’s content in the comments section.
Enter the Gungeon
A shiny gem of an indie title from Dodge Roll Games, that managed to win my heart over early on in the year. You the player take on the role of one out of four possible adventurers, and fight your way through five levels of the Gungeon dungeon. A massive randomly generated labyrinth filled with bullet-like henchmen and monsters that are all ready to take you down. Your performance for clearing the rooms on a floor gives you a money reward, and other possible goodies. Finding better weapons and items (or buying them from the shops that show up), is critical to your success. Every last inch of the game is filled with a Saturday morning cartoon sense of character that sets just the right tone for everything involved. The objective of the game is to forge a bullet to the past, where-in the player gets a chance to travel back in time to a pivotal moment in a particular character’s life, to fix the wrongs and regrets of their past. Gungeon stepped the awesome up even further by filling the game to the brim with unlockable secrets and tricks you can encounter and pull off. See a crack in the wall? Blow that sucker open to find some hidden treasure stashed away. Find a glitched out loot chest? It’s no accident. The developers put that in intentionally, for Gungeoneers seeking an unprecedented level of challenge culminating with a face off against two bosses at once.
Enter the Gungeon proved how indies can still pack a punch.
Pokemon Go/Pokemon Sun and Moon
This year was a celebration of Pokémon’s 20th Anniversary. Nintendo, Niantic, and the Pokemon Company breathed new life and interest into their classic Pokemon franchise, giving us two different types of gameplay experiences that brought new twists and turns to the series.
When Pokemon Go came out in July for iOS and Android devices, there was a massive wave of excitement for the potential of the concept. Players finally had a chance to travel around the real world and capture Pokemon via an augmented reality sort of setup. It shot up to the top of the App Store charts because of the fact it was every Pokemon lover’s dream come true. The development team at Niantic didn’t expect that, and their servers faced a consistent level of overload and outages for the first couple of months. On top of that, Pokemon Go related accidents began to pop up, leading Niantic to add warnings and other changes to the game to curtail chances of injury in the future. Altogether, coupled with the slow response to fixing the Pokemon tracking feature, turned a lot of that initial playerbase off. But Pokemon Go came back for a second wind towards the end of this year when they added holiday related updates to the game for a limited time, as well as bringing in some second generation pokemon.
That second wind in Pokemon Go was just in time for Pokemon Sun and Moon‘s debut. During most of this year, the news and reveal coverage for the new adventure in the tropical region of Alola dominated Nintendo’s news feeds. This game location did away with the classic approach and formula that the previous six generations followed. Instead, the player takes on the island challenge, where they must travel to the lairs of the Kahunas and Totem Pokemon and pass whatever tests they are tasked with. Along the way they meet new Pokemon exclusive to the area – in addition to familiar faces from the Kanto region who’ve adapted to the warmer climate of Alola. The bad guys came in the obvious form of Team Skull, a group of scandalous thugs that weren’t exactly the brightest bulbs in the box. But it turned out they were under the control of the Aether Foundation, whose motives weren’t as clear. Together, they made for an original and riveting story that’ll stand out for years.
Pokemon Go/Pokemon Sun and Moon proved they haven’t run out of ideas yet.
Bethesda had to raise the bar they set for themselves in the first place with the original Dishonored. How could the team take the premise and find some way of improving on that? The result was Dishonored 2 – a game where Emily Kaldwin and Corvo find themselves ousted from Dunwall after a coup by the evil witch Delilah ends up with her usurping control. Traveling to the shores of Karnaca, the player’s mission in the sequel was to hunt down the conspirators that schemed with her. The original Dishonored wasn’t a lengthy title, but the levels themselves were packed with options and opportunities for the player to explore as they saw fit. The second game kicked things up a notch by offering new powers (in the case of Emily Kaldwin), the ability to spend cash at Black Market shops mid-mission, and a more complex and fleshed out combat system that was better at telling the player what’s going on. What made Dishonored 2 go the extra mile to impress was the creativity in two of the levels: the Clockwork Mansion kept gamers on their toes as they had to outsmart Kirin Jindosh who was building a robot army, and Stiltons Manor had the player get to the bottom of the otherworldly corrupt magic that gripped the area by jumping back and forth between the past (the night where Stilton fell to insanity) and present. Overall, the sequel didn’t lose the spirit of wonder and steampunk fantasy that the original introduced people to.
Dishonored 2 proved Bethesda can make lightning strike twice.
Final Fantasy XV/The Last Guardian
These two games managed to finally come out in 2016, after they both underwent a nearly decade-long process of development at their respective studios. The final products in themselves might have some flaws as a result of that, but the rare and unusual cases of how these titles finally came to launch were enough of a spectacle to capture attention. People are mostly just happy the games came out at all.
The Last Guardian started in 2007, with Team Ico hot on the heels of success with Shadow of the Colossus. Originally slated as a PS3 title, the release date was pushed further and further back. Years went by, and finally the game was released on PS4 at the start of December. Similar to that and 2001’s Ico, The Last Guardian is a third-person game that uses minimal words in their story, but a heavier focus on physical interaction between characters for more of an emotional impact. Controlling a young boy, the player befriends a large beast named Trico – and the two come to depend on each other for survival as they try and escape the castle ruins. You have to take care of Trico and lead him where you want him to go by catching his attention with food and other environmental items. Since the boy’s physical capacity is limited, he needs Trico to access unreachable areas. Also he shoots lightning from his tail. Which is pretty cool, you gotta admit. But the lightning is useful for puzzle solving. The downside to The Last Guardian was the fact that gameplay mechanics also get more attention, as an effect of the minimalist approach taken elsewhere. The ideal outcome is that the story would play out smoothly, but in this case there were issues with: camera angles, FPS drops and performance related quirks. These were remainders of the gaming era of the past, with some of the aesthetic stuck in the Playstation 2 and 3 eras.
Final Fantasy XV began as Final Fantasy Versus XIII in 2006, a PS3 exclusive spin-off sort of title tentatively planned to release with the upcoming line-up of Final Fantasy XIII games Square Enix had going on at the time. But by 2012, the development shifted to a new generation of consoles, and changes were made to the engine and much of the story and content, resulting in the Final Fantasy XV re-branding. So was the Xbox One/PS4 title with one hell of a history to it any good in the end? Indeed! The story centers around a prince named Noctis, whose life is uprooted after Niflheim invades his lands, steals a powerful ancient crystal, and impedes his efforts to get married. Ousted from his posh life, Noctis and his three companions have to travel the four corners of their world and set things right once more. It’s a journey to recover ancient weapons and relics, filled with betrayal and epic battles against Daemon forces, and awesome car rides (and car flights) across an expansive map. Critics made remarks about how the story felt disjointed at times, but it seems like Square Enix was aware of that given the CGI film Kingsglaive and Brotherhood animated cartoon series they made alongside the game itself. What made up for it was stunning and impressive views, combat mechanics that weren’t a pain in the ass, and an emotionally powerful soundtrack from Yoko Shimomura.
Final Fantasy XV had good gameplay overall, but story was lacking in places. Whereas it was vice versa with The Last Guardian. They both proved that we shouldn’t write off a game in development hell, even if it takes a decade.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Blood and Wine
CD Projekt Red released an expansion to Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and it had enough to offer players in this one last go-around to qualify as a standalone title’s worth of content. In the base game alone, players were likely to experience at least 100 hours worth of content if they explored the map a bit. The tale of Geralt’s search for Ciri took him around Velen, Novigrad, and the Skellige Islands. Where he met an angry Baron looking for his wife and daughter, viking royalty who wanted the rite of passage to inherit the throne, witches and temptresses who vied for magical artifacts – and a war between nations, with Geralt walking along the lines of the divisive world. And that was just the base game. Blood and Wine takes place a few years after that, in the land of Toussaint. The Duchess hires Geralt to investigate the murders of two knights, and finding the monster itself is just the beginning of the journey. The story dives deep into the strange political intrigue of vampires, where our hero must unravel the obfuscation to ensure Toussaint doesn’t fall in chaos. But Blood and Wine continued the precedent set by the base game, where an epic amount of attention to the small details was a priority. The impressive graphics have a chance to show themselves off as you explore the countryside, even moreso if you take the time to embark on any of the hefty degree of side quests. The choices you make in the story have more of a lasting meaning in the end, and don’t sell you short on the outcomes.
Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Blood and Wine sealed CD Projekt’s place as a game development studio powerhouse from start to finish.
This won Game of the Year at the 2016 Game Awards show with Geoff Keighley, and for many a good reason. Overwatch is the first time in recent memory Blizzard Entertainment did something that didn’t follow the same universes they established previously. On top of that, it was a competitive hero shooter that set the standard for any that would come after it. Being a multiplayer centric sort of game, Blizzard had to think outside the box to deliver on story elements. With the help of animated shorts and other media, a more clear picture of the colorful world of Overwatch is painted. 23 characters to pick from, each of them with their own personality and set of weapons/powers. But part of the game itself is understanding the right place for your abilities, as they’re made with the purpose of doing the best at counteracting particular characters on the opposing team. The amount of fan art Overwatch inspired this year has been insane. Overwatch is able to maintain people’s interest with their carefully crafted loot box system which gives players the chance to unlock new emotes, sprays, character intros, and other neat cosmetic stuff to deck out their character with. When someone reached level 1000 in the game , it was a newsworthy occasion of how dedicated people can get when playing Overwatch. Blizzard stepped things up a notch when they added limited-time holiday events to the regular line-up of games people could play. Not only do all the characters get an array of festive unlockables, but players get the chance to experience seasonal occasions on a unique map tailored for it.
Overwatch proved Blizzard Entertainment was capable of trying something completely new, and doing it well.
The Escapist Magazine is having a charity livestream event this Friday. John Markley, Liz Finnegan, Ian Cheong, and the rest of the Escapist plus guests will be raising money via Extra Life to support the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Over the past few years, I’ve come to know and be friends with most of the people involved with the gig, so I thought I’d take the time to introduce you to each of them – based on the experiences and memories I’ve had with them all. Continue reading “Why You Should Watch The Escapist Charity Livestream”
A few days ago when news broke that TmarTn and ProSyndicate were behind the CS:GO Lotto website, making several videos of themselves gaming their own system as a form of advertisement, it shocked the YouTube community. People like TotalBiscuit and Boogie2988 expressed their disappointment at how unethical their conduct was, how these men of influence could deceive children into a get rich quick scheme. Continue reading “PsiSyndicate And The Anatomy of A YouTube Deal”
[Disclaimer: The contents of this article contained herein are for informational purposes only. It does not wholly attribute any criminal activity nor unlawful conduct to any particular individual mentioned in the piece.]
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You’re the founder of a successful Indie video game studio. You and your partner sold it to a venture capital firm, raising the stakes of your enterprise. One day you find out that a website published rumors from frustrated employees. By the next day, you’re pressured to step aside from your dream project. You tried to continue to work with the company you built, but then again employees come out and publicly denounce you on the record months later. Continue reading “Investigation: A Video Game Studio From Florida”