US-based game developer Brianna Wu was driven from her home over the weekend after a troll posted her address online and threatened to rape, kill and mutilate her.
The Twitter account was taken out under the name “Death to Brianna”, with the handle @chatterwhiteman.
It’s been inactivated, but Wu posted the threats made against her and her husband:
Here’s what one of the the original threats said:
I hope you enjoy your last moments alive ... You did nothing worthwhile. Your mutilated corpse will be on the front page of Jezebel tomorrow and there isn’t jack sh*t you can do about it.
In her retweet, Wu mentions #gamergate: a hashtag that acts as a rallying banner for what the Guardian describes as a “months-long, loosely held together online consumer revolt, fomented by anti-feminist reactionaries.”
The Gamergate controversy, which dates to August 2014, concerns a number of aspects of video game culture: sexism and misogyny in the community, for one, as well as questions about journalistic ethics – particularly conflicts of interest between video game journalists and developers whose seeds lie in the fact that the first video-game publications were products of the gaming companies themselves.
Wu is the third female game developer to leave her home under threats of murder since August.
That’s when Zoe Quinn, an independent developer, had her personal details doxed. She, like Wu, left her home to sleep on friends’ sofas in a storm of prank calls, threatening emails and abusive tweets.
Anita Sarkeesian, the critic behind a video series about the depiction of women in gaming, also chronicled in late August a series of threats that forced her to leave home and notify the police out of fear for her safety.
Wu’s world blew up last week after the pro-Gamergate message board 8chan got wind of critical remarks she’d posted about the Gamergate movement.
According to the gaming journal Kotaku, 8chan users reacted by mocking Wu, posting details about her husband, and ultimately publishing her personal information.
Like clockwork, the death threats poured in, she told the journal:
I was literally watching 8chan go after me in their specific chatroom for Gamergate. They posted my address, and within moments I got that death threat.
Sympathy has poured in for Wu. But so too have accusations that she’s made the whole thing up – accusations she’s scoffed at.
Others associated with Gamergate condemned the death threats but also protested Wu’s having linked them to their movement (a connection that the abusive Twitter user hadn’t made in his threats):
There’s no excusing the death threats sent to Brianna Wu. We in #gamergate have sympathy for her, despite blaming us w/out proof.
And Gamergaters have also been pointing out that they themselves have been victims of threats, including, as Kotaku reports, pro-Gamergate reporter Milo Yiannopoulos, who several weeks ago tweeted a photo of a syringe with fluid in it, presumably sent by somebody who doesn’t like his work:
No idea what's in this syringe but evidently someone wants me to find out! Arrived yesterday. Crazy. #GamerGate
Police in Arlington, Mass. confirmed to Kotaku that they’re investigating the threats.
Meanwhile, Wu isn’t cowering. She’s out working, having appeared at a panel on Sunday at New York Comic Con.
Sarkeesian, who’s been the victim of threats for years, was also at a convention – Geek Girl Con in Seattle – over the weekend, in spite of the bomb and death threats that have become practically a given:
Today marks the 3rd time I’ve gone on stage after specific death and bomb threats were issued to an event where I’m scheduled to speak.
Wu has reached out to members of Gamergate, offering to fly to wherever they are, sit down over a cup of coffee, and hash things out in a civil way.
She’s also asked journalists writing about her saga to have enough respect to “freaking contact me and ask for my opinion”, so I did.
Among other things, I wanted to know what, exactly, she plans to say to Gamergate members, and how she expects a discussion to change the tone of the discourse.
I told her that it’s hard for me to imagine that true nutbags – the kind that threaten to kill you – are open to intelligent conversation. Trolls typically aren’t.
I’m wondering how one might affect change in such a broad umbrella group as Gamergate, which covers trolls, people with rational concerns about, for example, journalistic integrity in gaming coverage, and everybody in between.
I’ll update the article if she gets the chance to respond.
In the meantime, if you have thoughts on this subject please share them below.
Image of gamer courtesy of Shutterstock.
55 comments on “Another game developer flees her home following Gamergate death threats”
I wonder if this is the result of the experiment; give people anonymity and a free for all space. Sadly, this behaviour is not limited to the gaming community and whilst the internet operates under anonymity, I don’t see this abating any time soon. The attitude of “well they did this so anything is justified” is mystifying but is what is fuelling some of this.
Gaming has alot of problems with misogyny, sexism, homophobia (to name a few) and the very loud voices shouting everyone down with such remarks just shows how much work there is to be done. I just don’t see how this problem can be solved. We can talk about self moderation and education but if people don’t want to listen, you can’t just push them off into a corner because of the internet.
Sorry that was waffling but I just don’t see an end to this.
What’s striking about this kind of abuse (and actually plenty of the comments made about this, the snapchat story, the celebrity photo leaks etc) is the lack of empathy.
My teacher friends tell me that one of the most powerful ways to deal with online bullying is to get the people involved to meet in person and have the bully repeat out loud what they said online. Most of the time they are embarrassed by what they said. Face to face they can see what their words do and their empathy kicks in (and this is categorically not bout victims getting thicker skins, it’s about people failing to behave in the most minimally socially acceptable ways.)
They say it takes a village to raise a child so my question is, where and by whom is a lack of empathy being tolerated?
I hear what you’re saying, and I would say to you not to stop having faith that people will do what’s right… but the realist in me who has seen what people would do to each other whether it’s in a virtual setting or in reality says stop being shocked by what they do or say… it’s what they want and thrive on, they live for the aftermath of their actions and in my opinion those actions will not change until those people reap and those like them see the consequences and not the so-called rewards of what they do.
And while I know that many of you do not agree I think this is also true of these people who hack anything they can just because they can. If LE really wanted to, they could put an effort into going after these people and if legislature tried understood it they would work to implement smarter legislation surrounding cyber crime, whatever the crime is.
If these “Gamergate” people are so sympathetic, why don’t they do something to help this effort, I wouldn’t want to be associated (knowingly) with a group that espouses terrorist threats to anyone for speaking what’s on their minds… would you?
Stop waiting on people to do the right thing because you’ll always be disappointed, but when they do the right thing, then you can smile.
They did do something to help the effort. They supported The Fine Young Capitalist which was a kick-starter that was created to show that women can develop games.
The problem is not misogynist, or homophobia but rather demagogues and yellow journalist exploiting fear of these things as a means of controlling the conversation. They will not tolerate criticism while accusing others of forming a backlash for that very reason. The powerful using their position to suppress dissent is nothing new. That’s what #GamerGate is about and that’s why they won’t quit no matter what the press says. They’ve been censored in ways that threaten the principals of a open society built on free speech and pluralism.
One common trait among people who have deeply held opinions is the desire to revoke the free speech rights of those who disagree with them. This is a very dangerous path and must be avoided at all costs.
While threats are not protected speech, this desire to fundamentally change the Internet, controlling people, suspending freedoms and liberties, is an astounding over reaction. How dare these people even consider such fascistic actions.
Wake up, people.
im unsure about all the facts but as far as i remember, quinn being doxed didnt happen at all. it came up when she claimed it on twitter without any proof (screencaps of emails, phone recordings, etc).
the harrasment towards her – according to her (again, if i remember it correctly!) – first came up on a board called wizardchan and was limited to two users, ignoring the plentitude of other users reprimanding them for it. it was then picked up by gaming journalists who have been proven to have or have had a personal relationship with her or even support her financially.
the internetaristocrat has a few informative videos about it on youtube which, though, should be viewed with a neccessary and propper amount of distance and skepticism since he doesnt come over as too objective.
apologies for my bad english – not a native speaker.
So many baby-faced terrorists hiding behind their keyboards in their Mommie’s basement.
Terrorist use violence for a political motive. The threats against this Brianna was some anonymous person complaining they thought her game sucked. No political motive there and it had nothing to do with #GamerGate.
There’s a significant difference between saying “your game sucks”, and saying “I’m going to come round to your house at and kill you”.
Even if the latter is just meant as a “joke”, it’s totally unacceptable.
These people are truly sick. Clearly they can’t deal with smart intelligent women. Which tells you all you need to know about them
…people, not just women…. people.
That assumption is ridiculous. People live with women throughout their lives and do not hate them compulsively like some despicable feminists would put forth as an explanation. Rather there are bad feminists who fear monger to no end to get attention like these ladies playing victim to anonymous threats that are both common place online and not credible. Some people will do anything to gain power and we should not blindly trust those who demonstrate a tendency to play up melodrama to get power and attention. It’s bad when politicians do it and even worse when it’s unaccountable journalist pushing the public into a frenzy. That’s why #GamerGate has stood up to take on the abuses of these yellow journalists who won’t police themselves.
You perhaps missed the part of that comment where the poster referred to “these people”? Since your response seems to be that “not all people are like that”.
But then the anti-woman rant that follows suggests that perhaps you are one of “these people”.
Whatever you think the story might be, threatening to rape and kill women is never acceptable.
Adding to those threats by publishing your victim’s personal details crosses the line from “not credible/harmless troll” to “dangerous stalker who needs to be locked up”.
What “anti-woman” rant did EqualityEd give? He had a rant against “bad feminists” who he implied where simply anti-man. Granted, I don’t agree with EqualityEd’s statements, but I’m not going to put words in his mouth.
Classifying women who receive credible death-threats as “bad feminists” for having the audacity to complain about them seems pretty anti-woman to me.
I’d check on this clown as the one sending the death threats.
People make games that are outside the standard model for what are usually called games.
Gamers called them crappy games.
Makers of said games claim misogyny.
Gamer say no, the games are crappy because they are crappy.
More claims of misogyny.
Gamers tell game makers fuck off.
More claims of misogyny.
Gamers tell game makers to fuck off again.
More claims of misogyny.
Gamers tell game makers to fuck off again.
In the meantime assholes make death threats, rape threats and dox on both sides.
Media generally only print said threats on those claiming misogyny.
Gamers get pissed and rage.
Game makers claim more misogyny.
Which side are you on?
Taking sides perpetuates the descent from discussion to argument.
There are a reported 1,239,993 tweeting involving gamgergate over the last TWO MONTHS.
In the last 48 hours there have been countless articles echoing that GG is a hate group because of a single ANONYMOUS twitter attack.
The vast majority of media has taken a side. Who do gamers go to for a discussion?
We’re having one now, I’m listening.
It’s not a matter taking sides. The real issue is that there are two issues.
First, there’s the issue of gamers wanting to be heard. This is a legitimate issue, and a lot of the time, game companies want to hear them as well. But, the problem comes with the second issue:
Some gamers (humans in general) seem incapable of holding a civil discussion. Anonymity seems to foster contempt and a host of other problems. People who might be “normal” can turn into monsters.
First issue is legit; both sides want to work on it.
But, the second is not. It’s simply not acceptable to turn into an animal.
What’s really odd is that these people tend to be on the more intelligent end of the spectrum, but they act like brute beasts.
Maybe an application of the Golden Rule would help: How would I react if spoken to as I am speaking to others?
They act like brutes? Are you talking about GamerGate supporters or Anti-GamerGate supporters? If you claim GamerGate supporters have doxed/threated/did xyz, then I will say Anti-GamerGate supporters did just the same thing. Yes, kids, women, men have all been targets of threats, been doxxed, hacked, by Anti-GamerGate. The only difference is that GamerGate is shown as the “brute”, as you’ve described them, and Anti-GamerGate is seens as angels. This perception is based on media coverage. When the journalists have ties with media, its very easy to shape the story thats against them. Which accused journalist would admit that they are corrupt? If anything, as GameJournoPros has shown, they intimidate other journalists from talking about certain topics by blacklisting them. When the GameJournoPros clearly shows that major “journalists” have been all too friendly with each other in a non-professional way, there is an issue. The 14+ articles that have the same narrative published under the same day declaring “gamers are dead” is a way to take the heat off of them. It worked for the wider audience and media.
GamerGate people wanted healthy debates on the most popular sites they visited(4chan/reddit/neogaf/etc). What happened? They were banned, their topics deleted, and comments related to gamergate were deleted. They banned it on many of the major gaming site’s comments section as well. There are very few places to openly debate anymore. Media blackout happened for a week or so. Then slowly independent writers decided to speak out against the corruption and the collusion. Gaming media journalist then resumed their attack on gamers once more. This time, everyone who supported the GamerGate is now a misogynist, against equality, ISIS, etc.
Suddenly the Anti-GamerGate side is talking about “being open to debates” and how they were the ones that really wanted the dialogue and how GamerGate is ALL about death threats/rape threats/doxxing/hacking. Revisionism is very strong in the media. If you haven’t been following the news, you will surely be confused and misled about the facts. Some fringe blog site that doesn’t deal with gaming cannot and should not be a place to debate about internet wide censorship and game journalistic ethics issue.
This is how I saw the live event folding. In anycase, where exactly should the gamergate make their opinions heard and debate? Twitter is the only large scale medium right now that doesn’t actively censor them. By the way, the bans on some of those sites mentioned above still stand.
I’ll weigh in lightly as someone who has followed the commercialization of gamer journalism from the early days, and at this point has no “side” as I’m definitely no gamer in today’s market or society. I’m one of the “dead gamers” — but I was involved in this debate some 20 years ago.
> They act like brutes? Are you talking about GamerGate supporters or Anti-GamerGate supporters?
You’ve already fallen into the fallacy that caused the original problem. The “they” in this case are those who are making threats and making things personal. From how things are going, it appears that these people are following the GamerGate events, but likely aren’t closely involved on either side.
Look at it this way: you’ve got various new school and old school journalists, large multinational gaming corps, new and old school gamers, all hashing things out on public and somewhat anonymous forums. In this mix, you’ve got trolls, astroturfers, haters, and more. History shows that they don’t tend to divide easily down “sides” on any debate; there instead appears to be a certain percentage of humanity that reverts to these tactics behind a shield of anonymity once they’ve dehumanized the “other”.
So far, I personally haven’t seen any actual “anti-GamerGate” show its head, although that doesn’t mean that a few interested parties aren’t out turfing and trolling to try and destroy the movement for their own personal gain. I just haven’t seen it.
What I HAVE seen is a bunch of frustrated disenfranchised people trying to create social change in a market that has been pretty static for a very long time — so long, that a portion of who they thought their target market were have now left the market. I’ve also seen others who don’t understand this attempting to co-opt it to prove their own points and grind their own axes — this includes people on both sides of the issues.
GamerGate is not a person, and so, just like 4Chan, Occupy and Anonymous, can’t be said to have a specific agenda. It is a movement, and people have taken it in numerous directions, some healthy, some not. The problem was that anything flagged GamerGate would attract the flamers trollers and baiters like flies to honey — and you can’t get upset at forums for not wanting that sort of thing on their boards.
So there’s a few things going on here: there are a few vocal groups of gamers claiming to speak out for ALL gamers, which is obviously not the case. There are also a few gaming houses wanting to keep their control on gaming perception so they can use the same models they’ve traditionally used. There are journalists across the spectrum trying to make sense out of what’s happening, some of them working for the corporate side and some not.
So the thing NOT to do is create artificial sides. That just alienates the people who could be helping others understand your view. This goes for everyone involved in this topic.
Making things personal for others isn’t going to help, unless you make it personal in a positive way: if you’re a gamer, become a blogger with actual time invested in logical reasoned arguments. Take the time to talk to some established journalists to bounce things off them, and possibly win a few to your point of view. Sure, the issues may not get into their publications, but they’re people, and THEY have friends too. Get journalists talking about an issue, and it’ll become big news, hitting all the old-school media as well as new media. Relate to people. Help them see things your way. Treat people as people, actually taking the time to talk inside their own world views.
And yes, I’m saying that to any of you who are fostering an “us vs. them” attitude: you’ll just end up with more of “them” to fight, and less of “us” to do the fighting.
The good news? All of this can be done with the same anonymity and data security we see with the abuses, but actually creates a healthy atmosphere for debate instead of attacks. People are social animals (even if corporations aren’t); dehumanizing other people destroys that one bridge that can lead to solutions.
That was a great write up, thanks. This thread in general is a great discussion actually, rare to find in the comments section of anywhere so cudos to you guys
Wow thanks for the enlightening and educational write-up, I had no idea this was even an issue until I read this article. I wish all the stuff I get to read each day was as well thought out and presented as your contribution.
I think you missed my point. I’m not taking sides. I don’t even know which side is which.
What I’m saying is that it’s not acceptable to resort to personal attacks, physical threats, other threats, or other rude behavior. I don’t really care which “side” resorts to such tactics; in all cases it is simply wrong.
I also lamented that anonymity seems to bring out the worst in people. I’ve known people personally who have said such things anonymously (or so they thought), and then apologized in person. There’s a line that shouldn’t be crossed, regardless of whether I’m anonymous. It is better for all if all of us simply do not cross that line.
FACT: The male demographic represents the vast majority of game consumers. This whole “Gamergate” fiasco will just alienate that group, and any game developer or publisher that supports a cause that they oppose will, at the very least, feel the wrath of a boycot of their products.
… only guessing, but I think I can tell what side you’re on… although I could be wrong.
Death threats are never OK. Rape threats are never OK. It doesn’t matter if you are male or female, both or neither. It doesn’t matter if you are a misogynist or a misandrist. Or just a misanthrope in general. It is not OK.
Descending to ad hominem attacks are bad enough (not to mention a logical fallacy). Saying a game is crappy, fine. That’s an opinion.
Responding that “you’re only saying that because you hate women” is also an opinion. It may not quite follow logically, and it may be infuriating to hear, but it is still just an opinion.
Saying “fuck off” is childish and rude, and suggests you have exhausted your capacity for logical discourse. But that’s all it is. And it invites what parents often say to raging children – “go to your room and don’t come out until you can be civil.”
Threats enter the realm of criminal behavior, and are never acceptable, no matter what the provocation.
We don’t need more people telling us it’s bad to kill kittens. It’s become a tired retort by so many to condemn things we already reject as unacceptable. It’s like getting on here to say running random people down with cars is unacceptable as if there were going to be some argument there.
I don’t know who the ‘we’ you’re referring to is but I think it’s pretty clear that chcurtis was addressing his comments to the people who *do* make rape and death threats and to people who *do* use rude and childish language.
Self evidently those people do need telling.
More broadly there are plenty of people commenting on this story who are prepared to relegate or downplay those things, serious things, as somehow not important or not relevant.
For many of us, me included, those things are the issue at hand. I could care less that this happened during, alongside, in spite or or because of GamerGate.
Abuse, bullying and especially the treatment of women online are far bigger issues than GamerGate.
It’s easy enough to agree to disagree when both parties agree to disagree. But when one side has a several web sites specific to the others favored pass time berating them over the disagreement in concert it’s much tougher to swallow.
But when outside groups join in with preconceived notions and no sympathy for “nerd culture/neck beards/piss babies/baby faced terrorists” it gets worse still.
It’s reminiscent of the Salem witch trials. Its pretty hard to prove your not a witch. I wouldn’t be surprised if the “witches” has some rather choice words for detractors as well.
I think you’re misunderstanding the role of ‘outside groups’, a category into which I include myself.
I have every sympathy for nerd culture and neck beards – I’m in it and some of my closest friends are in it. The issue at hand is not whatever the subject of the disagreement is, or the fact that some people feel disenfranchised, it is the extreme manner in which the disagreement is being played out by a minority of people.
Rape threats and syringes in the mail, whether they’re sent to thin skinned individuals or thick skinned individuals, provoked or unprovoked, jokes in poor taste, trolls or honest-to-goodness threats are not OK.
Gamergate proponents have been condemning such actions from the start. Very few one outside the debate listens due to the loud constant drumbeat of “misogyny”.
I fear lots of good honest people will be railroaded before this is over. Hopefully they are as strong as they say they are.
I didn’t know what this gamergate thing is about, so I googled and read the Forbes article on it.
After that I realised that I still don’t know what gamergate was about! (apart from just being an excuse to be a moronic internet troll)
yep – issuing death threats over video games. Just imagine the intellect on that guy!
Trolls trolling tolls.
Femnazis and the misogynists are both making everyone look bad in the gaming community.
Instead of everyone criticizing the gaming journalism industry for being completely unethical and devoid of integrity, all the attention is on the trolls.
Sad. Everyone loses.
Well it’s logical for the bloggers (calling them journalists is giving them far to much credit) that lack integrity (Kotaku, Polygot, et al) to keep throwing out a red herring. They surely don’t want to lose their perks and cozy positions with developers, especially when doing so will lose you a spot at the table and blacklist you from the industry.
Want to solve GG? Address the ethical concerns outlined. That won’t happen though and instead we will be stuck with hand waving from sycophants with guilty outlets moving in lock-step pushing to create a false narrative.
These claims of misogyny come from the feminists to discredit critics. It’s feminists versus free thinking people who don’t adhere to their bigoted and manipulative dogma.
Do you seriously believe that “feminists” are the ones who are making threats of rape and murder against themselves?
Or do you think that threats of rape and murder aimed at women don’t count as misogyny?
So, gamers get criticized. No reason for us to issue death threats. Or are we really that shallow? Maybe the “feminists” as you call them made up the threats. Even so, instead of ignoring what could be a serious issue you should say that you view the threats as completely inappropriate and then go on to say but I disagree with the “feminists” for these reasons.
As for “free thinking.” I would say you are not “free thinking” unless you agree that the “feminists” have the right to think as they do.
Also, the word bigot is an interesting word. It usually means that the person who is using the word is also a bigot. Completely intolerant of the other person. I think a lot of us are bigoted on some level and probably shouldn’t use the word to describe another because really we are also describing ourselves. That is, unless we say that the other person has a right to think as they do.
The counterpart of misogynist is misandrist. I have some criticisms of the feminist movement but I hate the term ‘feminazi” which was invented or at least popularized by Rush Limbaugh and has two false implications (no matter what you may have intended):
1. that all feminists are bad.
2. that the bad parts of the feminist movement are in any real way comparable to the evil of Nazism.
“I told her that it’s hard for me to imagine that true nutbags – the kind that threaten to kill you – are open to intelligent conversation. Trolls typically aren’t.”…
Be careful Lisa, those true “nutbags and trolls” may be reading this…
Thanks for the warning. That’s always in the back of my mind when I write about …. um…. people who choose to engage in less than gracious manners.
Are you open to the possibility that the gamergate community is angry at the stereotyping of gamers?
Have you followed any of the #gamergate dicussions on twitter?
Have you read any pro gamergate articles?
Did you see the MSNBC interview on gamer gate?
What are your sources for information about gamergate? It would seem you’re getting them from the very media that has been painting them in an inaccurate light for the last 2 months. I would suggest expanding outside of sites like Kotaku and Polygon and getting both sides of the story.
By the way, something for all to remember: in all US states, it is a crime to threaten someone. It does not matter if I actually intended to harm them. The only thing that matters is if they felt threatened.
It’s called “assault”. Many people falsely believe that it’s “assault and battery” if I beat someone up. If I actually make harmful contact, it’s battery (only). It’s assault if I threaten and the other party feels threatened. It’s assault and battery if I both threaten and make contact.
I don’t know if it is a crime to assault someone across state lines (in the US). But, if it is, it’s probably a federal crime. Will I get caught if I do it? I’m not sure, but I don’t think I want to find out the hard way.
I don’t get it. Can someone explain to me exactly why female game developers being targeted and what group is targeting them???
The trolls target these women because it get the biggest result. Just look at today’s news feeds. Some jackass is feeling pretty powerful right about now. And gamergate is taking the brunt of the heat.
Where is the evidence that her harassers are from 8chan?
How do you know they aren’t from SA?
Oh, right. Woman say stuff. Man Listen. Man Believe.
If GamerGate is so sexist then why was Phil Fish so heavily involved?
Because it isn’t about “women” it is about “scumbags” like Phil and Zoe and Brianna. Just look at how Brianna hogged the spotlight and scoffed whenever Frederick spoke on HuffPo. She is as big of a troll as anyone she claims is harassing her.
Brianna Wu and Quinn and Sarkeesian and Alexander and company hide their aggro behind a feminine label. Fish just embraces it. Wu has spent the day taunting hotwheels, tagging gamers and talking trash, then claiming her twitter was “hacked” and she is a victim and blah blah. uh huh, heard all of this before.
And quite frankly. People say mean things on the Internet. Grow up. Stop being cowardly. Wu claims she isn’t going to let “them” win, well when she fled in terror whoever triggered her already won.
If you can’t see the difference between people saying mean things, and people posting your address and other personal information along with threats of rape and murder, then your parents obviously failed to raise you as a decent human being.
“Empathy” is clearly not a word in your vocabulary.
“I told her that it’s hard for me to imagine that true nutbags – the kind that threaten to kill you – are open to intelligent conversation. Trolls typically aren’t.”
I agree with you Lisa.