Before this post blows up with hate mail and trash, let’s be clear. I’m a male, mid 20’s and I am disgusted with the amount of hate in this world toward women developers. In a world where we merit Indie developers for creating the next big thing or changing the way we think about gaming, we’re blocking out millions of capable minds in some self-righteous crusade against women – and for what?
For the uninitiated, GamerGate is a perplexing term. Used in and out of context, GamerGate is an issue within our privacy-stripped world in which harassment has become a standard element of gaming in the modern era. Most frequently targeted toward women, the GamerGate movement spawned out of threats to give female game developer Zoe Quinn “…a crippling injury that’s never going to fully heal … a good solid injury to the knees.” Using Twitter as an outreach, Zoe began the use of #GamerGate to express her feelings about this harassment and those who had been affected quickly caught on.
As of today, one woman in particular has received 45 death threats in total, a woman by the name of Brianna Wu. having developed the iOS title “Revolution 60”, Wu is just like any other budding developer, looking to make her way in this world. As a member of a small development team, there’s no particular reason why she should be targeted for merit or hate mail, but as a woman she has been targeted an inordinate amount of times and with significant and serious intent. Again, I must be clear when I say “inordinate.” There is no acceptable amount of times in which a gamer, developer or human being should be singled out with death threats or threats of physical harm. Ms. Wu should not have to fear for her life or personal well being simply because she makes video games for a living. She is developing entertainment, people.
Given her most recent threat, we as a community need to step up and cooperate to squash out these issues. Released on YouTube, a man recently masked up for video footage of his detailed plot to murder Brianna Wu. With full and real intent, the released video wasn’t the end to his pursuit as he crashed his vehicle on the way to finding Ms. Wu. Later documentation of the event suggested he had both weapons and an accomplice available, but not on his person – rather through a presumed willing Skype contact. Whether by an act of God, guilt or human chance he returned home from his car crash to post a second threatening video for Ms. Wu, leaving her fearing for her life in a very real way.
Writing on the events of her cumulative 45 threats, Brianna Wu took to blogging site “Bustle” to let it all out.
“I’m doing everything I can to save my life except be silent. As a friend recently told me, ‘It’s a very dangerous time to be a woman with an opinion’. The stakes couldn’t be higher. Do we fight this battle now, or do men get to be the only ones shaping our future?”
“During the reign of terror of Gamergate, I have had hundreds of conversations with other women,” she added. “We’re exhausted, we’re terrified we’ll be next, we’re all thinking of quitting. I have a folder on my hard drive with letters from dozens and dozens of women who’ve abandoned their dream of becoming game developers due to Gamergate, some as young as 12.
“Many of the most serious harassers have committed criminal acts — doxxing us, repeatedly threatening to murder women and attempting to blackmail me and other women. Yet they keep creating new accounts and coming back to harass us.
“There have been no prosecutions for the hundreds of death threats that have been sent to Zoe Quinn, Anita Sarkeesian, or myself. I am calling on law enforcement, specifically the FBI, to step it up. This will not stop until you show the public that there are consequences to these illegal acts.
“Invariably, by speaking up, I’ll experience a new round of threats and harassment. The people doing this see themselves as noble warriors, not criminals. I’ll probably get more rape and death threats. I’ll be told I’m being dramatic. For pointing out the game media’s silence, behind closed doors these people will tell themselves what amazing allies to women they feel they are, and nothing will be done.”
Furthermore, Brianna has been very vocal on Twitter with the following Tweets in the last few days, and it’s extremely disheartening to hear that our community could stoop this low.
This person sent a video outlining his plan to kill me tonight. Hope Massachusetts Law Enforcement will act quickly. pic.twitter.com/eV5JVOqVc9
— Brianna Wu (@Spacekatgal) February 8, 2015
If I die from one of the 45 death threats I've gotten, don't let it be in vain. Hold these institutions accountable. Wake them up.
— Brianna Wu (@Spacekatgal) February 10, 2015
You see, when I receive a threat against my personal well being or the well being of my livelihood, I don’t typically think anything of it. Whether this is because of the persistence of the culture, because I’m a man, or the nature of internet anonymity, I’m not sure. Certainly with the widening of technology and availability to find anyone with enough searching on Google or Bing, this culture needs to move toward peace. You’ve seen what it can do, and we need to move fast. We don’t need to live in fear anymore – let’s change the culture and save a life.
After all, we’re just playing a game, right?