Indie Dev Cancels PAX East Booth Over Security Concerns

Indie Dev Cancels PAX East Booth Over Security Concerns

Giant Spacekat, developers of space adventure game Revolution 60, announced this week they cancelled PAX East booth space due to safety concerns. The studio has since spoken with PAX organisers and responded to criticism over the fact that its head of development, Brianna Wu, still deciding to attend PAX East and appear on several panels.

In an online statement earlier this week, she said she was concerned “due to a concern that in a crowd of such a volume expected at Pax, the safety of our team can not be guaranteed.”

Wu has been feuding with members of the Gamergate movement for months and has blamed some of them for online threats of violence last fall. (Gamergate is, of course, an amorphous movement, and, as we’ve reported before, members of that same movement have condemned harassment against Wu.) She’s most recently raised alarm about an individual who appeared to sympathise with Gamergate and made videos threatening violence against her while wielding a knife. In a statement released by Giant Spacekat on Wednesday said backing off from PAX East was a group decision, based on previous threats and the idea of thousands of attendees being on the show floor at one time.

“I cannot and will not make that choice for the people I work with,” said Wu. “After talking to them, I made the decision to prioritise the safety of Giant Spacekat’s employees. Specifically, we have chosen to withdraw our presence from the Pax East 2015 Expo Hall, due to a concern that in a crowd of such a volume expected at Pax, the safety of our team can not be guaranteed.”

The company expects it won’t have to pay for the booth space, despite the late cancellation.

Wu told me she tried to contact the organisers of PAX three times prior to cancelling, specifically to discuss concerns over an attendee being able to sneak a knife into the event.

Though Giant Spacekat would no longer have booth space at PAX East, Wu still planned to show up at various panels and potentially take meetings in or around the event. This has raised questions as to Wu’s intentions. She’s been an outspoken critic of the movement and been charged by some as using harassment against her for publicity. She responded to criticisms about continuing to attend the event through another blog post on Thursday:

“She’s attending her panels anyway!”

Yes, because this is my choice. I wanted to go to PAX. Our decision to withdraw is about respecting my team’s wishes. I’ve had difficult conversations with husband if it’s worth it to put our lives at risk standing up to Gamergate. We made choice to speak up. I cannot make the choice for my team to interact with thousands of strangers a day with 46 death threats. Many are parents, one is pregnant.

“It’s a PR Stunt.”

No. This is honestly about safety. I do what I think is right. If you talk to my employees, I deeply care about my team. Also, the logic of skipping a PR event for PR escapes me.

“They couldn’t get a booth, and it’s a stunt.”

No. We’ve attended Pax East for the last two years, and were all set to go this year. Withdrawing is a huge pain for us logistically.

“Why aren’t you talking to police?”

I talk to law enforcement constantly. It’s one of the most frustrating experiences of my life trying to get arrests. Look for articles from me soon about the systematic inability of law enforcement to respond to these threats, because it’s complete BS.

In the hours after releasing a statement, PAX got in touch with Wu.

“I think if they’d talked to us earlier we could’ve made this work,” she said.

PAX didn’t respond to my request for comment, but released a brief statement to Polygon outlining the event’s code of conduct and how it prides itself on bringing together people “share what they love most, in a safe environment.”


  • I look forward to hearing from all those commenters in the Supanova post last week about how we have to hear both sides of the argument, and that both sides are responsible for harrasment.
    Which, as any grownup person who has regular contact with the opposite sex knows, its total garbage. Gamergate is a group dedicated to the stalking and harrasment of outspoken women that has no legitimate argument about anything. If they had genuine points of discussion, they wouldn’t need to attack people and act like legit sociopaths.

    Point is, gaming will become more and more democratized, and women and minorities will hopefully have a louder and louder voice. And sad, white, manchildren around the world will continue to weep into their doritoes, angry at societal changes that make everone else happy.

    • You’re totally wrong and prejudiced. That’s it. Choosing the right side does not absolve you of the definition of prejudice as you are lumping many people with a host of different cultural and political ideologies into the same group and calling all of these individuals dangerous. The “they” you refer to doesn’t exist. It’s even stated above:

      (Gamergate is, of course, an amorphous movement, and, as we’ve reported before, members of that same movement have condemned harassment against Wu.)

      I don’t need to hear two sides of this story because it’s pretty f&^king cut and dry. She was threatened with knife by a specific group of people who should probably be hunted down and taken to court. She has a legit reason to be worried and has handled it fine, wrangling in some self-promotion too (which, while gross is a staple of the business). If you’re harrassed, why not empower yourself with that rubbish? I mean, yeah, she’s going a bit overboard with her word usage but she isn’t making decisions for other people nor is she attempting to demonize attendees. I even applaud her courage by publicly using herself and not her team to show strength against these dangerous few. It’s a great display of defiance against prejudice. (and will likely sell her mediocre games too)

      However, not every person critiquing someone who happens to be a woman is whatever insult or generalisation you tried to call them, nor does it mean they aren’t for societal change, nor does it mean they’re a supporter of Gamergate. If you don’t simplify or generalise these issues, they actually become pretty clear. Wu isn’t my favourite person but this course of action puts the focus on herself and not on an imaginary group that has done nothing wrong, this group wields a knife. I don’t want this to blow up negatively because of her penchant for promotion but as it is, this is a good way to react.

  • Just not buying what she’s selling. If she was genuinely worried about her safety, she wouldn’t be going at all. To disregard the police like that, is horrendously short sighted and narrow minded as well. Seriously facepalmed so many times reading her statement.

    • The company is withdrawing the booth because of the majority of employees feared for their safety. A member of the company still intends to go anyway, to show that she won’t be intimidated. What is your problem with that?

      And I don’t know how you can go from “law enforcement can’t respond to these threats” to “she disregards the police utterly”.

    • Honestly I can somewhat understand that line of thinking from personal experience. Most of the time police cannot act unless in *extreme* circumstances and it’s usually *after* the act. Heck even when a crime happens most of the time the police can’t do much. The most you can do is report the incident and the police start a log. If your extremely lucky they may eventually catch the person. Hell my home has been broken in 3 times already and as of today no one has been caught for it. And yes we lock our doors and have a house alarm blah blah blah.

      Anonymous threats compounds that even further. Because essentially police have *no-one* to focus on and the most they can do is “log” the event. Hence I can “understand” her antipathy to going to police.

      As for the rest of the stuff she said? *shrugs* I’m going to wash my hands on that and step back. Everyone already has had their opinion on Wu and on what’s going on. So tossing in my own 2cents would just add to the already increasing crap storm anyway… and I have other things to do. Such as play games! =P

      • I’ve been robbed too, my house was broken into, a lot of stuff stolen including uni work which will affect my teaching portfolio as well as my sons gear unfortunately :\ and most of the time the police are indeed a reactionary service. I keep hearing people say ‘they should stop the crime before it happens’, yet, you can’t. It’s up to an individual not to commit a crime, not the cops, they provide a presence, the individual decides to act etc.

        But like yourself, I have an opinion and it’s not going to really add to anything I just think she’s being sensationalist and overreactionary, possibly using it to garner herself a bit of publicity as well, even if that wasn’t the intent, that’s the result and she’s not exactly doing anything to avoid that fact.

    • Seems like more worried about the teams safety, not her own.
      Getting in trouble because of nut cases is one thing, getting OTHER people hurt because of nutcases is another thing

    • Yeah, I don’t buy it either. She says this:

      Also, the logic of skipping a PR event for PR escapes me.

      She’s not that stupid and she knows what she’s doing. At PAX she’s one of thousands of booths all vying for public attention. Pulling this bullshit, she’s being talked about exclusively. This ongoing drama has had her name in the public lexicon far more than any other dev trying to get their work noticed. Who would have even heard of the name Brianna Wu if it weren’t for the Gamergate controversy? I think she noticed that a while ago and has kept it as a card to be played at times like this.

  • If she really gets 46 death threats a day, that’s bonkers (although I guess it could be the same person again and again).

  • PAX Aus happened after the whole GamerGate shitstorm began. It was talked about between devs, media, and the public. There was no harassment, no screaming matches, no fights. Everything at the event was a celebration of both sides collective love of games of all types.

    It sounds like Wu requested specialized treatment, which would have been seen as unreasonable or against policy. $20 says she requested personalized security for her and her team through the whole event with authority to remove anyone who “causes trouble” (aka disagrees with her) at the event.

    In PAX’s defense though, it’s near impossible to get organizers attention at the best of times. Chances are her requests/emails got buried under the thousands they receive every week.

    • PAX Aus happened after the whole GamerGate shitstorm began. It was talked about between devs, media, and the public. There was no harassment, no screaming matches, no fights. Everything at the event was a celebration of both sides collective love of games of all types.

      The thing is, is that generally aussies are less likely to do stupid things with weapons when upset.

  • …but how is Revolution 60 coming along? Looks good so far. Anyone been lucky enough to get a hands-on preview?

  • I dont understand why any decent organisation would want anything to do with her. She has been caught out several times doing things like making fake profiles and sending threats to herself so she can play the victim. The best one was on the Steam forums where she harassed herself but forgot to log out of her own account.. Shes a proven fraud and agitator. Even if youre on the feminist side of the whole Gamergate thing shes making a mockery of you.

    • You know what I love about this whole GG drama?

      It has pretty much shown you can’t really “prove” anything anymore thanks to the beauty of the internet where anyone can make anything up to prove or disprove their side of the story. The whole “prove it” line has been rendered meaningless because even *if* someone did throw out some “research/digging up” to either prove or disprove a point I can assure you almost 99% of the time your either going to get someone saying “but X has disproved/proved this” or just flat out not believe what ever you’ve “researched” under the premise of “bias” if you should ever attempt to use that information in a discussion to “the other side”. The irony being it’s probably already your own predisposed bias that’s dictating what you choose to believe or disbelieve. It really just becomes a matter of opinion vs opnion.

      So no I’m not going to ask for “proof” of what you said since it’s a redundant excercise =P

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