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Game developer Brianna Wu flees home after death threats, Mass. police investigating

Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Game developer Brianna Wu, head of development at Boston-based Giant Spacekat, fled her home after receiving a series of specific, violent threats directed at her and her family on Twitter last night. Police confirmed they are actively investigating the threats.

The harassment of Wu is the third such high profile event in the past three months involving a woman in games being the target of relentless harassment and death and rape threats. In August, Depression Quest developer Zoe Quinn was subjected to threats and harassment, as was Tropes vs Women in Games creator Anita Sarkeesian.

Wu was targeted after tweeting a series of images critical of those who identify with the GamerGate campaign. After tweeting that members of the 8chan message board — a refuge for former 4chan posters — and GamerGate supporters had posted her personal information online, Wu republished a series of disturbing stream of tweets that contained violent threats and her home address.

"And, here's the part of the night where I call the police," Wu tweeted alongside a disturbingly violent anti-feminist message directed at her. (A good timeline of the events on Twitter are collected at We Hunted The Mammoth.)

Capt. Richard Flynn, investigations commander with the Arlington Police Department, confirmed with Polygon that the incident is now under investigation with the department's Criminal Investigation Bureau. Polygon requested a copy of the police report, but our request was declined.

In an email to Polygon, Wu said she's also been in contact with the FBI and a detective in Boston regarding the harassment. Polygon has contacted the FBI for details on an investigation of the threats.

In the wake of last night's threats, Wu said she and her husband have left their home for "somewhere safe." Wu told Polygon she returned home today to "make sure nothing had been vandalized and to pick up some computer equipment," but said, "I'm not planning on being home for a while."

The attack on Wu has continued through today, she said. "Giant Spacekat's financial accounts are currently being targeted by hackers," she tweeted on Saturday afternoon.

Wu also responded to accusations that harassment toward her was fabricated as part of publicity or self-promotion.

"I am a professional developer, and I'd like to think I'm well regarded in this field," she told Polygon. "I can think of no quicker way to destroy my career than making up a false allegation like this, getting the FBI involved and getting arrested over it. It's absurd."

Earlier this year, Polygon published an editorial from Wu in which she outlined the rampant harassment that women in games regularly endure.

"[P]eople think men and women receive the same harassment online," she wrote at the time. "They do not. I'm not writing this piece to evoke your sympathy. I'm writing to share with you what prominent, successful women in the industry experience, in their own words."

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