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Brianna Wu

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Brianna Wu
Brianna Wu next to Motorcycle.jpg
Wu in 2015
Born West Virginia, United States
Nationality American
Occupation CEO of Giant Spacekat, software engineer[1][2][3]
Known for Commentary on issues related to women in gaming
Spouse(s) Frank Wu
Website www.briannawu.net

Brianna Wu (born John Walker Flynt on July 6, 1977) is a Transgendered American video game developer and computer programmer, and a notable left-wing or progressive opponent of President Trump. Wu is biologically male, but appears and lives like a woman. That means that mainstream media organs use the personal pronouns "she" and "her" to refer to Brianna Wu. He cofounded Giant Spacekat, an independent video game development studio with Amanda Warner in Boston, Massachusetts.[4] He is also a blogger and podcaster on matters relating to the video game industry,[5] and ran for Congress in 2018 and again for the 2020 elections.[6]

Career

Wu was born in West Virginia and raised in Mississippi by adoptive parents.[7] He grew up in an entrepreneurial environment; his father was a retired US Navy doctor who opened his own clinic, and his mother ran a series of small businesses.[8][9] In 2003 he enrolled at the University of Mississippi, studying journalism and political science.[citation needed] At the age of 19, he formed a small animation studio to create an animated pilot episode. The venture was unsuccessful, resulting in his withdrawal from college and a move to Washington, D.C. to work in political fundraising for several years.[8] He later returned to college to finish his degree in investigative journalism[citation needed], then worked as a journalist until he was inspired by the release of the iPhone to work as a graphical designer and create a video game. In 2008, he married Frank Wu, four-time winner of the Hugo Award for Best Fan Artist. In 2010, he co-founded the company Giant Spacekat with Amanda Stenquist Warner,[8] adding Maria Enderton as lead programmer.

Revolution 60

Brianna Wu and Giant Spacekat co-founder Amanda Warner

Wu is credited as head of development for his company Giant Spacekat's first iOS game, Revolution 60.[10] It features female protagonists, said to echo the founders of the game studio.[4] The game was demoed at Pax East in March 2013, where it was listed as one of the 10 best indie games of the conference.[11] The game, created with the Unreal Engine for a total budget of a few hundred thousand dollars, was released for iOS devices in July 2014.[10] In July 2013 Giant Spacekat ran a Kickstarter campaign to fund a PC release of the game in addition to the iOS version. The fundraiser brought in $12,728, over 250% of the original $5,000 goal.[12]

Commentator

Wu was co-host of the weekly Isometric podcast on Relay FM. The podcast was launched in May 2014 and covers the video game industry. [5] On April 18, 2016, the Isometric podcast was ended. The same hosts, including Wu, started a new podcast called Disruption on Relay FM, covering technology and culture.[13]

Runs for Congress

Wu decided immediately after the 2016 American presidential election to run for a Congressional seat in the greater Boston area, focusing in part on privacy rights and online harassment, but also on the wider Massachusetts economy. He will not be challenging Rep. Katherine Clark of the 5th District, with whom he shares a suite of advocacy concerns,[6] but rather Rep. Stephen F. Lynch of the 8th District, in an announcement he made on Twitter.[14] Wu stated, in a radio interview, that Lynch did not sufficiently represent the Democrats, citing his positions on reproductive health care and LGTB rights. Wu also came out in favor of unions and collective bargaining.[15] Wu feels that Massachusetts proportionally contributes more to the Federal government than it receives in return and wants to use it as leverage in negotiations. He hopes that the Boston Bay area can rival San Francisco Bay as a technology hub.[16] Wu plans to move to the 8th District in order to challenge the incumbent Lynch.[17]

Wu also cited opposition to U.S. President Donald Trump and failures by Congress regarding technology as reasons for shifting from game development to politics.[18]

Professor Thomas Whalen of Boston University commented that the South Boston 8th district is traditionally conservative and Lynch is native to the area and has strong ties to labor unions, but thinks recent years of changing dynamics could help Wu. Meanwhile, David S. Bernstein, a long-time political reporter for Boston Magazine did not think Wu had a chance of unseating Lynch.[16]

On Twitter in February 2017, Wu posted warnings about the militarization of space, along with voicing concerns over giving private space tourism companies sole access to the Moon. He wrote, "Rocks dropped from (the Moon) have power of 100s of nuclear bombs". He later deleted the tweets.[19][20]

In late October 2017, Wu used the streaming service Twitch.tv to promote his Congressional campaign. "One of the reasons Millennials feel disenfranchised is politicians don’t speak to them in ways that feel genuine," said Wu. "Twitch is one of the most important ways to engage younger people." Neither Twitch, the DNC nor the Pew Research Center were aware of anyone having done so previously. Wu was playing Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus during the stream.[21]

Wu lost to Lynch in the Democratic primary held on September 4, 2018, having received approximately 24% of the vote to Lynch's 70%.[22][23] By then, Wu's biological male status was often no longer mentioned in mainstream media reports.[24]

Second run for Congress

Wu began a second campaign for the 2020 election, again with an emphasis on progressive tech issues such as Elizabeth Warren's proposal to break up giant media companies such as Apple, Facebook and Google. He noted on a WGBH-TV panel that "For whatever reason, our Department of Justice has been more reluctant to pursue antitrust cases against companies in the last few years, certainly since the Bush years."[24] He differs from certain elements of Warren's proposal, citing privacy concerns.[25]

Wu endorses left-wing or far-left proposals like the Green New Deal, aiming to shift the United States to 100 percent "renewable energy" by 2035.[26] His retrospective piece for Marie Claire in October 2018 sums up his political philosophy: "I Ran for Congress. I Lost. I'm Persisting. Quitting Is Not an Option in the Trump Era."[27] On July 22, he was interviewed by the Crooks and Liars contributor Howie Klein.[28]

Gamergate harassment claims

In October 2014, Wu posted multiple tweets about Gamergate advocates,[29][30] ridiculing them for "fighting an apocalyptic future where women are 8 percent of programmers and not 3 percent."[31] While he was monitoring 8chan's pro-Gamergate chanboard (/gg/), anonymous users posted sensitive personal information about him, including at least one post containing his address. Subsequently, Wu began receiving multiple, specific rape and death threats including his address, causing Wu to flee his home.[32] These threats have been widely attributed to Gamergate supporters.[31][33] In December Wu received e-mails at his corporate account that contained images of mutilated dogs from people who identified as Gamergate supporters, following the recent death of his dog, Crash.[34]

Along with Anita Sarkeesian and Zoë Quinn, Wu is frequently cited by the media as one of the targets of some GamerGate supporters' alleged "harassment of women" in the gaming industry.[29][33][35][36][37] In February 2015, he said, "by attacking me so viciously, they’re helping give me the visibility to usher in the very game industry they’re terrified about."[38] He has started a legal defense fund for women targeted by Gamergate, and the Wu family is offering a $11,000 reward for information leading to the prosecution of those who have sent him death threats.[39][40][41] By February 2015 he was spending a full day a week contacting law enforcement, and was only attending events in the US with a security detail.[38] In March 2015, he said he had received 48 death threats during the previous six months.[42]

In early 2017, the Federal Bureau of Investigation closed its investigation of the matter. The FBI had identified four men who sent threats and obtained confessions from two of them. The US Attorney for the District of Massachusetts declined to prosecute, giving no specific reason. Reacting to the report, Wu stated the FBI didn't care about the investigation and that he was "livid".[43] After the 2019 Poway synagogue shooting, he said that the FBI needs special agents to monitor and, if necessary, help censor right-wing online culture (8chan in particular).[44][45]

References

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  2. Orlando, Alexandra (November 9, 2016). "Interview with Brianna Wu". First-Person Scholar. University of Waterloo Games Institute & IMMERSe. Retrieved November 26, 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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