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Brianna Wu is latest dev threatened and driven out of home

The head of development at Giant Spacekat got police involved after several disturbing threats on Twitter

Brianna Wu is the head of development at Giant Spacekat, an all-women Boston-based developer, and she's the latest to feel threatened by extreme fringes of the GamerGate crowd. After a number of awful threats against her on Twitter, Wu had no choice but to alert the authorities. The threats did show that the person correctly identified Wu and her husband's address, so Wu and the police agreed that they should flee their home for their safety.

[Warning: To see the full extent of the graphic nature of these threats, you can view a summary of the timeline here.]

Sadly, this isn't a rare occurrence. The GamerGaters also have threatened rape and death against Tropes vs Women in Games creator Anita Sarkeesian and Depression Quest developer Zoe Quinn. Detractors sometimes accuse people like Sarkeesian of fabricating the threats in an effort to advance their feminist cause, and unfortunately some have already said that Wu has somehow made up the threats to promote herself.

"I am a professional developer, and I'd like to think I'm well regarded in this field," she told Polygon. "I can think of no quicker way to destroy my career than making up a false allegation like this, getting the FBI involved and getting arrested over it. It's absurd."

Wu did confirm that she briefly returned home to "make sure nothing had been vandalized and to pick up some computer equipment," but added that she's "not planning on being home for a while." The Arlington Police Department has filed the incident with the department's Criminal Investigation Bureau. Wu has also reported the case to the FBI and a detective in Boston.

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Latest comments (32)

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 4 years ago
So... What can we say here, hmmm?

That this is awful? Shockingly so, just like the previous threats against (oddly enough just female) writers and devs.

That #gamergate is all about ethics and standards? Well, this (once again) proves that that's not entirely true, doesn't it?

That #gamergate is now a more embarassing and hateful sight than that DoA game which had boob-physics? Well, I certainly can't think of anything which has gained more negative press for the industry.

That GG'ers have absolutely no self-awareness (just like their lack of humour)? Well, if they did, they would have killed this hashtag a long time ago, and started one which wasn't tainted by abuse and hate.

It may be a roiling mass of different political and jounalistic opinions, but no-where does it say that that's a reason to continue supporting a movement that actively works against the best interests of the industry. Regardless of if you think writers enflamed the situation, or were antagonistic, I cannot see how making excuses and continually supporting a movement that is so vile serves the industry's best interests.

Care about ethics and standards? Put this tainted piece of wank to bed, and start something that doesn't allow abuse and bile.

(and this is my last comment on the controversy.)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 13th October 2014 4:52pm

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Christopher Bowen Editor in Chief, Gaming Bus4 years ago
Just some minor collateral damage in the glorious fight over Corruption In Games Journalism! Glory to the movement!

(I'm so angry at this point that I'm resorting to gallows humour and sardonic comments. Simple rage doesn't suffice anymore)
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Brianna is a determined and excellent advocate for equality and diversity in games. She's an inspiration to women wanting to take the big step of founding their own studios, she is fiercely uncompromising in her work and attempts like this to scare her away from being so outspoken and valuable are sickening. I'm really glad to see she's responded to these latest threats with defiance and determination because god knows I wouldn't have the guts to keep it up in her position.
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Show all comments (32)
Emily Knox Associate Designer, CCP Games4 years ago
I would ask anyone still willing to stand by 'GamerGate' for ethics after this, what do you actually have to gain from it?

If there are sites, writers, and game developers whose work you do not approve of and do not want to support, why can't you make that choice independently?

The term is muddy at best and we are witnessing the worst mob mentality as a result of people bandying together around it, refusing to acknowledge its disturbing flaws. Jonathan Blow made some sense of it: "If you are going to try to use the power of group cohesion, you also take the negatives that come along with this association"

I feel for Brianna and others affected by this. I can't imagine what it must be like being on the receiving end of this kind of behaviour, it's horrifying enough watching it.
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Christopher Bowen Editor in Chief, Gaming Bus4 years ago
But Emily! Those people making the threats? They're the minority! GamerGate isn't about misogyny! Or hate! It's about ~corruption~! Now, those SJWs!? THOSE people are everywhere! Permeating the entire industry! They're a scourge that must be stopped!

(I've lost real-life friends who aren't even gamers or big-time game players to the GG nonsense. They tend to be conservative Fox News-types, but they just wander in, something something fuckin' feminists, and it goes boom. I've probably lost any and all ability to be reasonable about this subject; I was so angry talking to someone yesterday my girlfriend noticed I was shaking in anger)
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 4 years ago
WTF? Leaving makes the assholes win every time. The lazy-ass police should be going after these losers through their ISP's, who SHOULD cough up full contact info because of the threats made, the person or people involved should be arrested, tried and prosecuted with some hard time for their stupidity coming down on them along with some very public shaming of THEM, not the victim for this nonsense. How is it a dam SWAT team can come down on some Call of Duty player thanks to another one of these jerks calling in a fake threat, but some game developer and her husband can't get the authorities to do what they need to do over an ACTUAL threat?

Meanwhile, the clowns who do this just fist pump on some message board somewhere and move onto the next target. This just makes me sick and want to stay the hell off the internet because it's become filled with entitled losers, automatic sell-outs to the highest bidder who call themselves "journalists" (or don't do so because they're just in it for the payola) and people who don't even play games they shit on, but sure can raise a stink at a moment's notice over trivial bullshit. Bleh.
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Tom Keresztes Programmer 4 years ago
I just wonder of why these threats where immediately associated GamerGate as an entity. As far as i know, there is no such organization with a list of members.

Its probably a random nutcase. Probably a twitter kid, posting her address. Hopefully.

As a side note, her game's characters look exactly like the stereotype described by Sarkeesian.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 4 years ago
@Tom: One doesn't NEED to be a card-carrying member of any group (hate or otherwise) to carry their message. This stuff was around before GG even existed as a "thing". I haven't even followed it much other than wasting a half hour a few weeks back and it annoyed me because I had better things to do like play some games I needed to catch up on.
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Emily Knox Associate Designer, CCP Games4 years ago
I just wonder of why these threats where immediately associated GamerGate as an entity.
@Tom They are associated with GamerGate because after posting about GamerGate on Twitter, she received threats of death and rape, had her home address leaked and people tried to hack into the financial accounts of her company.
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Brook Davidson Artist / 3D design 4 years ago
Comments like that I believe should be policed. That is terrible and those people need to be taught a lesson that you can't just say whatever you want on the internet and expect there to be no consciences. Threatening someone to that extent is a crime even on the net. I sometimes wonder what on earth is wrong with some people.
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Christopher Bowen Editor in Chief, Gaming Bus4 years ago
I find it funny that it's far easier to get the police to send a SWAT team after someone over a fake report than it is to send the police after someone who is legitimately threatening rape.
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Benjamin Seeberger Writer/Translator 4 years ago
If you went up to someone and threatened them with rape or assault, you would have just cause with the police. The same needs to happen online. People need to be held accountable for what they say, whether that's offline or online. Breaking into someone's financials is jail-time, and threat of assault should be considered to the same degree of seriousness as any other kind of threat given in word.
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Paul Jace Merchandiser 4 years ago
I agree with Greg who basically said what I was going to say. Why aren't these people ever caught? Is it that difficult to trace their ISP's? They need to be hunted, captured, brought to justice and made an example of(with their sentencing) so that others will stop following in their idiotic footsteps.
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Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany4 years ago
Can't say anything that hasn't been said. Aside from asking when those dirt bags will begin to hit jail like any other person making threats.
Spanish "internet crime division" (rough translation) would have them located and on custody in a mater of days, I don't think the rest of the security forces in the would would have problems either. Unless they believe that this is "just kid's stuff relating video-games.
Well... a person was driven out of his home in fear, I would say the game is over already.
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Jma Programmer, Crytek4 years ago
@Andreas I think that's a bit of a False Balance argument. I disagree this is about "sides" but to follow your comment, what have the extremists on the non-GG side done to make them equal to the ones sending death/rape threats and posting you private info online?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jma on 14th October 2014 10:19am

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Andrew Watson Tools Programmer 4 years ago
Sorry if this comes across as controversial, but if someone received death threats on twitter, why are they publicly announcing that they're leaving their home? To me that seems like the opposite of what you'd want to do, because now the harasser has even more incentive to track you down or rob your house or something. Leaving your home should be something you do silently if you actually want to stay safe.
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Rafa Ferrer Localisation Manager, Red Comet Media4 years ago
@Andrew - That's what I always think when I see these news (wow, how depressing I just referred to these as something frequent). I would probably leave home too, but I don't think I would announce it because a) harassers will view it as a victory they can repeat with other victims and b) it can make my empty home a target for vandalism.
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I believe the standard thing that happens when you've had to flee for your safety is some police officers stay in your house while you're away, in case anyone does show up.

It's rather sad that I'm aware of this, frankly, but this is not the first or third but the fifth time I've read about a prominent woman having threats made against her life this year :/
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Christopher Garratty Associate Counsel, Activision Blizzard4 years ago
In my personal opinion, I would be more inclined to think that GamerGate had a legitimate grievance if they went after big players like media networks, the platform holders and the big publishers who theoretically have the power, the funds and the reach to meaningfully manipulate game press coverage. (This is not to say that I think that anyone in this industry manipulates anything, I'm merely talking hypothetically, these groups could do it if they wanted to).

As it is, I only ever hear/read about how individual (mostly female) developers or very small (mostly female led) indies are manipulating the industry to get coverage of their comparatively shoe-string budget games or are being chased out of their homes by death threats. These people tend to live off of their last success. Profits from one game have to be split between developing the next game and trying to keep a roof over their head. They don't exactly have the sort of money to throw around back rooms in manilla envelopes to get good review scores, nor do they have the clout to threaten to withhold their next game from a certain publication unless demands are met, and as for "feminine wiles" being employed, well, I know that the industry was stereotyped as bedroom dwelling virgins in the past, but I thought we were past that now.

As such, the GG "movement" (for want of a better term) just look like a bunch of bullies picking on the more vulnerable members of the industry. Maybe the GG name was misappropriated by extremists who keep grabbing the headlines, but if that is the case, do what NFC payment provider Isis Wallet did, be sensible and change the name rather than continue bleating about how you aren't that GG, you're the good GG.
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Emily Knox Associate Designer, CCP Games4 years ago
so if you post an opinion about GamesIndustry.biz and I or someone else here does something awful like that then its GI associated too.
@Andrew No. If I posted an opinion about GI biz and received death threats I wouldn't have any reasoning to connect the two together. Unfortunately you may notice there's been a pattern of people criticising GamerGate and then receiving death threats.
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Craig Burkey Software Engineer 4 years ago
It's disgusting, there is no justifying harassment, intimidation or threats.
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Maged Hamdy Studying Computer Science, Rochester Institute of Technology4 years ago
Wait a minute, did you just delete my comment? I was just talking about how gamers have been doxxed as well, and this is awful but there is a whole lot of other doxxing that's not talked about. What?

EDIT: If this is found in violation of the rules, please do email me.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Maged Hamdy on 14th October 2014 2:20pm

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Maged Hamdy Studying Computer Science, Rochester Institute of Technology4 years ago
I mean, they're proving me right. I AM muslim, and this reminds me exactly of what happened in the last 13 years.

Again, I am not pro-GG. I am neutral, but I can sympathize with not having a voice.

@Christopher Garraty:

I don't think they're after small time developers. I think it's more that bloggers are not willing to talk about bloggers being accused of doing unethical things. I'd do that too if my reputation is on the line, and it would be in my best interest to attack the character of my accusers. See: Ad Hominem

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Maged Hamdy on 14th October 2014 2:24pm

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Christopher Bowen Editor in Chief, Gaming Bus4 years ago
Shorter Andreas comment: "#notallgaters"

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Christopher Bowen on 14th October 2014 4:31pm

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David Canela Game & Audio Designer 4 years ago
@Christopher, re swatting vs. harrassment
it's sad,sure, but the only relevant factor here is anonymity. your post could be misinterpreted as there being some underlying injustice in the system.

online anonymity...maybe we need to rethink whether and when it's really worth it. definitely a tough question...

Edited 1 times. Last edit by David Canela on 14th October 2014 5:50pm

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Christopher Bowen Editor in Chief, Gaming Bus4 years ago
Well, let me make it abundantly clear that there is literally no justice in a system where the guy threatening to kill Brianna Wu's family is able to walk free but I can search Youtube for game streamers having swat teams beat the shit out of them for no other reason than "lulz".
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David Canela Game & Audio Designer 4 years ago
you can swat people if you know their address. has nothing to do with any system, unless you mean twitter's anonymous signing-up system...

edit: actually, I guess the two are related because like issuing threats, swatting is facilitated by the caller's anonymity...

Edited 1 times. Last edit by David Canela on 14th October 2014 7:38pm

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Otakar Schon Technology editor, Economia4 years ago
Please, explain to me how can actions of few internet trolls, criminals even, can be generalized across whole core gamer demographics?

Doing that is 1, not fair, 2, biased, 3, based on a political agenda instead of objectivity

I consider myself a core gamer, i write about tehcnology, review games as well. I dont agree with the way male gamers being bashed for the fact that they have male fantasies and want to enjoy them in games rated as 18+, M or even AO, but that doesnt make me supporter of anyone who is behaving like a prick or in this case like a bully and criminal. Being ProGamergate simply doesnt mean being a women hater, bully or stalker.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 4 years ago
@ Otakar (and, actually, everyone. :) )

This is well worth reading. Short, but smart.

http://www.amusementarcade.org/2014/10/02/a-letter-to-some-dude-on-gamergate/

(and *that's* my final comment on the matter. :p )

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 14th October 2014 7:36pm

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Christopher Bowen Editor in Chief, Gaming Bus4 years ago
@Otakar - at this point? Being pro-gamergate, after everything that's happened, absolutely makes you those things. It does. There is so much baggage there that everyone under that umbrella is tainted. No exceptions. Don't like it? Tough shit. Stop running devs out of their homes. Stop hiding behind the guy who created 8chan because he's disabled and makes an effective shield. If you associate with that movement, and are still "pro" that movement after all of this, you deserve a permanent, non-removable scarlet letter. I'm done with the debate. I just want to destroy everything these people touch.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 4 years ago
Or: if you jump on the caboose of that bandwagon and don't see it's the train to hell, you're in for a wild ride.

Don't join this club. Look at the ENTIRETY of what they represent, not just pick and choose the causes you dislike about the current state of parts of this industry. This whole gg nonsense has spiraled out of control and is going to hurt a LOT of people before it's all over.
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Brook Davidson Artist / 3D design 4 years ago
Personally, I am on neither side of this. I have my own views on the matter. Those views are both sides are guilty.
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