Brianna Wu Tells What to Expect from the Gamergate TV Series

Brianna Wu

Plans to develop a Gamergate series for TV involving Brianna Wu were revealed by Deadline a week ago (“Fictional Gamergate Series In The Works From Mind Riot Entertainment & Video Games Developer Brianna Wu”). Now Wu has commented extensively on her vision for the series in social media.

On Twitter she discussed her aspirations for the show in an extended statement:

Do you believe stories can change the world? I do. And I think most of us who go into creative fields think so too. A question a lot of people in the US are asking ourselves is, “How the hell did our country get here?” When I watch Twitch, I often see women streamers too young to have experienced Gamergate casually mention the death threats, the Swatting, and the doxing that are just part of being a woman online in 2021.

And those are the more benign symptoms.

The Christchurch massacre was horrific, and is directly linked to 8chan. 8chan directly led to QAnon. Antivaxxers thrive because the disinformation policies I and others begged Facebook to implement were ignored.

And then you have monsters like Steve Bannon who took the Gamergate playbook and weaponized it against our country to get Trump elected. Today, he and others like him are laying groundwork for the next insurrection against the United States using that same playbook. Disinformation. Exploiting divisions. Fomenting resentment and convincing the privileged they are a victim. I feel ethically compelled to tell the story of how one domino falling led to another.

Wu acknowledges the work comes with a personal cost:

Someone is going to turn Gamergate into a series eventually. That’s just a fact, and in my short time working with Hollywood – it’s very apparent to me that without people who were there it will be TRAUMA PORN. They’ll be insensitive to victims. They’ll not understand the historical context of events. They’ll focus on salacious aspects and miss the bigger picture.

Even though it’s traumatic for me, someone that experienced these events needs to be there to steer them in the right direction.

She wants it well understood what won’t be seen in the series:

“Gamergate” IS NOT a retelling of the events of Gamergate. It’s not a bad Scream movie where a man in a Skull Mask calls a woman game developer and threatens to kill her, and she hunts him down to strike a blow for feminism. All those events are happening in the background, and it’s horrific. But the thrust of the show is about fictional characters working behind the scenes to try to address structural issues with institutions like law enforcement, social media companies, and game studios.

“Gamergate” is a story about how our institutions failed us in 2014 and what the consequences were.

I think this is the only ethical way to do a story about Gamergate. It doesn’t erase what happened to anyone, and it doesn’t presume to tell anyone else’s story. Instead, it focuses on WHAT WE CAN DO TODAY to stop the nightmare politics we are drowning in. And frankly, it’s much more interesting.

Wu turned down several previous offers to do a Gamergate project:

This is not the first time Hollywood has knocked on my door and asked me to do a series about Gamergate. It’s not even the second or the third. I have turned this project down FOUR times because it was going to be trauma porn. I said yes this time ONLY because I was given the authority to veto the many ways a project like this could go wrong. If you go back and watch my interviews during Gamergate, my message was incredibly consistent. Yes, I talked about what happened to me – but my focus was ALWAYS on addressing the structural issues of the game industry. That’s still my mission today.

Somehow, the stakes of addressing the root causes of Gamergate keep getting higher and higher. In 2014, it was the careers of women in games. In 2016, it was stopping a monster from becoming president. And in 2021, it’s stopping us from living in a permanent pandemic from the unvaccinated, who are being manipulated with disinformation.

It’s my hope that telling this story can steer us away from this disastrous course. Frankly, I would rather do other things with my career – but disinformation and online radicalization is going to kill our democracy if we don’t.

Wu also gave permission for File 770 to quote from her friend-locked remarks on Facebook:

Let me share with you the pitch and why this is a series that won’t be a train wreck like the Law and Order episode.[i]

Gamergate is NOT going to be a feminist melodrama about death threats.

It’s fiction, is going to take place in the industry, and is going to be about the efforts of an institution to stop an extremist fringe from taking it over and how it fails. KIND OF RELEVANT, RIGHT?

It’s overwhelmingly fictional characters. Some public figures get mentioned, but the characters are journalists, CEOs, developers, and law enforcement.

Because the only way to tell the truth about what happened is to make it fiction.

One of my rules in writing it is, “No stereotypes.” We’re not going to treat gamers or the game industry with disrespect. In fact, it’s going to celebrate what I love — but also note how powerless we all feel with an increasingly radical fringe in the fanbase.

To be honest, I feel a lot of pressure cowriting this. It’s my goal to represent what women in our field face, but with nuance and compassion.

You can trust me to tell a more true story about game development than has been told before.

[i] Intimidation Game | Law and Order