I follow Brianna Wu on Twitter. She came to my attention through her guest spot on Debug, and through her session at Alt Conf 2014. She went on to make the podcast Isometric, with Georgia Dow, Maddy Meyers, and Steve Lubitz. I really do love all of them, (even though I don’t play games), Johnathan Mann loves them too. She’s also appeared as one of the rotating panelists on The Incomparable podcast, for several episodes about games, women, and Star Trek. She’s there for a reason, of course, and that is because of her role as a game developer. If you have not played Revolution 60, go take a look.
Women in tech, and women in games, have been two issues (two very intertwined issues) all year long. (Not to say that there wasn’t issues before, but just that the conversation around these issues has really picked up this year.)
Adam Baldwin, the actor you probably remember from Firefly, has very strong views (views that I do not agree with). He started this whole thing called Gamer Gate. It’s been a total shitshow. Some horrible boys, and men, have gathered together in the darkest corners of the internet to engineer social campaigns against women in games under the flag of Gamer Gate. The women that have been targeted are all outspoken about the treatment of women in games as a medium, in game commentary, in games, period. I was always going to write about Gamer Gate, but I wanted to write when all the facts were on the table. It’s been a morphing, multi-headed thing, that is very difficult to talk about authoritatively because it’s not staying still. (I also don’t feel like I have a full view of the issues because while I’m totally a white guy, I am gay, and I am not a “gamer”. Nor do I have any desire to participate in any game communities because playing World of Warcraft and Halo gave me a really shitty view on that segment of humanity. It even feels a little weird to write about Brianna, but if I sit here in silence, aren’t I being a total jackass?)
Brianna Wu, along with Maddy, Georgia, and Steve, have talked about the ongoing events associated with this war on women on Isometric. There is a particularly strong, heartfelt episode that made me tear up while I listened in which Brianna detailed ways in which she was afraid.
To my absolute horror, Brianna’s address was exposed this weekend and death threats were made. She left her home and has not gone back since. She even had a panel lined up at New York Comic Con that she attended despite the threats.
I want her to be safe, above all else, and I want her to be able to express herself without fear of personal injury, or torrents of online abuse. Even before this became a threat associated with her physical address, it was one where people actively organized alternate, disposable Twitter accounts (sock puppets) to wage verbal abuse campaigns on her. Even at the heights of those online campaigns against her, she was still wading through the filth to reply to the decent people that wanted to communicate with her. She is, after all, a game developer and she does have fans.
The horrifying thing is that it is so easy to blame her for speaking up, and talking about these issues, when these threats to safety
were are being made. Even today, she tweeted that she hoped she wouldn’t be known for this bullshit, instead of game development. Sure you can say “well then stop talking about these issues” but how the hell does that make anything better? If that is your initial reaction to this news, then I encourage you to reexamine that opinion. I do not want to live in a world that prescribes silence for abuse, and threats to any other human being.