Brianna Wu running for US Congress in 2018

Games developer and victim of hate campaign wants a place on technology subcommittee, plans to combat cyber-bullying and revenge porn

Reports have emerged that Brianna Wu, a games developer whose prominence sadly stems in part from the harassment she has received, has set her sights on a position in the US House of Representatives.

GamesBeat reports that the developer has confirmed she is very serious about her Congress ambitions, and has already her first campaign image via her Facebook page - although the campaign has yet to officially kick off as Wu is still gathering advisors.

Already on the team is sci-fi author and Boing Boing co-editor Cory Doctorow, with Wu planning to add "legal experts on cyber-bullying and revenge porn" soon. As and when she formally runs, Wu will step back from her role at her studio Giant Spacekat.

The campaign images bears the slogan: "She fought the Alt.Right and won. Now she's fighting for all of us. Fearless leadership for 2018."

"The reason I decided to run is simple: [President-elect Donald] Trump is terrifyingly now in the White House," she told GamesBeat. "I can't sit by making pleasant video game distractions for the next four years while the constitution is under assault. Hillary [Clinton] ran a brave marathon, and now it's time for women of my generation to pick up that baton and commit to public service.

"I've been called a lot of names over my career, but I've never been told I'm scared of a fight. You know just how passionate I am about women in tech. But I believe we've hit an asymptote with what activism in tech can accomplish. People are aware of the problem, but all that's getting done is window dressing. We don't need more catered women in tech lunches, we don't need speeches - we need structural bias against us to stop. And I think women in tech serving in the legislative branch is the next step forward."

Wu has said her main agenda will be "economic", hoping to keep more start-ups in her home state of Massachusetts and helping to revive the games industry in Boston that has been "devastated... with the loss of Irrational and others". She hopes to serve on the House's technology subcommittee to improve understanding of tech, invasions of privacy and more.

The developer was one of the more prominent victims amidst the wave of hate and harassment surrounding the games industry back in 2014. She was driven out of her home, with death threats prompting her to avoid major events such as PAX East. She described the hate campaign as a "literal war on women".

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Latest comments (6)

Craig Page El Presidente, Awesome Enterprises5 years ago
Did Massachusetts police ever arrest anyone who sent her threats? If not, they should ask for help from the FBI, or any law enforcement agency with the resources to figure it out.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 5 years ago
There was a period when Brianna Wu claimed to be on the run, giving a series of video interviews, while a group of people on the internet analyzed the interviews frame-by-frame claiming the videos were all made in the same place, her home. Around the same time nobody was too sure, whether or not a police report was filed or not. Then there was a story about people should stop filing police reports on her behalf because she plans to do so herself 'on Friday'. This was the established pattern at the time. Two sides, each with a well designed narrative on who was the bad guy and why you, the reader, should take sides based on hearing a story targeted at your emotional vulnerabilities. Detaching yourself and just judging facts was never an option. You never got to the truth beneath, you were never able to fully confirm or rebut either side based on hard facts. Sound familiar?

Brianna Wu's most infamous foe, Jace Connors and the Deagle Nation, turned out to be one Jan Rankowsky, who went on claiming it was all performance art. Still, the reveal of his fake persona did not stop him from taking multiple media outlets, from Gawker to the New York Post, for one last ride in the aftermath. Again, most videos and source materials at the time were rather impossible to gauge for seriousness (e.g. this one: and most of the quotes which entered circulation were accusations based on something which happened but was very hard to dig up, pin to somebody real and confirm. Take the "doxxing" event, which started with public ICANN records being posted on some forum by a user with one post. ICANN lists a phone number for this very site, what is the stance on me reposting this public information here?

This was always the deal with GamerGate on one and female game developers on the other side. You always exclusively came into contact with the highly escalated and emotionally charged situation, never with the root causes. You could take a side for sure, but not have an opinion that was based on a clear understanding of the entire situation. To this day I am not even sure when during the whole ordeal the alt.right was fought, whether Brianne Wu's dog really died and how, or what exactly happened on the Steam forums.

Post factual living at its best, take a pitch fork and join either side of the witch hunt, or go home and go extinct. So Merry Christmas to you all, and if you take offense in that statement due to not being Christian, consider that neither am I.
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Paul Jace Merchandiser 5 years ago
I would vote for her but I'm not in Massachusetts. I still wish her well in her pursuit.
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Show all comments (6)
Bonnie Patterson Narrative Designer, Writer 5 years ago
@John Owens: Oh for the love of all gods, please TRY to at least brush by the facts.

Revolution 60 was never described as a "feminist" game. It was a game with a feminist lead developer. The characters were based on a particular manga style of art but when people voiced the critique that they were too thin (although most of these were gaters just looking for an excuse to shoot at it), she actually took it on board and changed the design. Having a triangular waist isn't actually essential for a profit margin.

As for the sexy clothes, there is one out of four characters in "sexy" clothes, the rest are jumpsuits, and that particular character's attire is very thoroughly and poignantly explained in the storyline - the character is very badly damaged, to say the least.

You've obviously never actually met the woman or played the game. Just stop taking other people's words for stuff or assuming you know and go to the source.

You said it was up to developers to make their own choices based on the arguments, but you ALWAYS come out with absolute frothing hatred for anyone making those arguments.

Remember your rant about Anita Sarkeesian? But you hadn't seen the videos and had only Gamergate's "facts" about her business, based on which you were happy to call fraud - yet you had never looked into it yourself.

You say discrimination should be allowed based on individual preference, but you've never looked into the knock-on effects that causes.

You *keep* saying that maternity pay biases small companies against hiring women, even right after I pointed out that THEY DON'T PAY FOR MATERNITY LEAVE.

You said there should be matching paternity leave when THERE ALREADY IS.

You said that the problem with pooled parental leave was that women take it, when if you'd actually checked why men don't take paternity leave, those that don't say they won't take time off for such a small portion of their salary.

But then you did say that you don't believe in science because scientists make up statistics in order to socially engineer. So basically, facts don't matter?

Or maybe it's just that all these "reasons", just like those of the standard issue Gamergater, are made up, to try and legitimise attacks on women and minority developers. Some men just got used to deference from "lower status" groups and absolutely cannot handle them critiquing anything they like - believe me, you run into them often enough as a woman; a guy can make an insulting joke to them, but if a woman does the same she had better duck fast or get a broken jaw. Some just want to keep the power and privilege they think they're entitled to. And there are plenty who are just bitter because one woman didn't give them what they wanted - after all, the MRA are pretty heavily involved.

And thank Hera for all the men who aren't even remotely like that. All the men, all the developers and all the gamers you don't get to claim to speak for.

You keep pushing this whole "The only winners are..." line. Threats in a nice suit. Better knuckle down and tow the line, get back in the kitchen, or we will take more!

Did you think we didn't know we'd face punishment for speaking up? We learn that on the frigging playground - that there are those who think they're better and if they're also bigger than us then they don't have to listen. They can sit in their ivory towers and completely ignore that they are forcing other people en masse into poverty, or prison, or oh look, now you can be shot for calling for help while black. Do you think we'd be taking risks if the status quo was actually, in any regard, OK?

Go look up the stuff you don't know and stop assuming that a pair of testicles makes you an expert. Stop bloody slandering people you know NOTHING AT ALL about.

The friendzone is that-a-way.

Sorry James et al, but I just couldn't hold it in any more.

Edited 4 times. Last edit by Bonnie Patterson on 22nd December 2016 8:41pm

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Bonnie Patterson Narrative Designer, Writer 5 years ago
Science: the collation and correlation of a body of knowledge in accordance with the scientific method. Empirical data has always been at the core of that, so I'm afraid that modern psychology, sociology, even "management science" actually are science.

As for the manipulation of statistics, when data is manipulated like that, if you read the original paper, you can actually tell. It's actually really obvious as you can review the questions asked in surveys and the methodology used, though you seldom see manipulation in legitimate journals because it's just as obvious to the peer review panel who then don't publish. Anything that does get missed tends to be pointed out in the letters page of the next issue or answered in full length papers published subsequently. Bad practice - unscientific methods, deliberately biased samples, skewed questions and so forth can also get people struck off by the relevant professional society.

Your statement about science to which I was referring is this one. I remembered it as "scientists" where you actually said "academics". Though the study we were discussing was actually a peer-reviewed publication by scientists from an academic institution.

"Academics in this field have a vested interest. They aren't impartial because they're believers in social engineering. They want to justify what they are doing but it's just wrong. Their thinking is wrong and their solutions are wrong."

But look, about Brianna Wu, along with any other feminists you're worried about.... Please, just go and take a look at the things they have said in the context they said them. No, Brianna does not like Trump. Yes, she is very angry about having spent most of the last 2 years under the kind of attacks that are vicious and very, very depressing.

(The reason she came under attack in the first place wasn't because of a critique of games or a critique of male-associated behaviours. It was because she said she wouldn't be employing someone she knew had been threatening or harassing her friends. )

And she's a very reasonable, kind and honest person. When she receives valid criticism, she fixes it.

She doesn't by any measure deserve the hate she gets.
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Bonnie Patterson Narrative Designer, Writer 5 years ago
@John Owens: Ah, political polls are a whole different ballgame they're generally run by private companies like Gallup, the media and the parties themselves, so I have zero idea what goes on there.

There was a chap though - I can't remember his name but he's a statistician from the US and he runs a site called FiveThirtyEight, and if I'm remembering right, he maintains a list of the various polling companies and critiques their methodologies, so you might find that interesting. I remember him as being pretty neutral (it's mostly about the numbers, how they were obtained and what they mean) but you may view it differently. Still, you'll probably find it interesting.
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