Brianna Wu Email Correspondence
It is notable for being the first known case of Brianna Wu openly admitting that she never graduated college.
In this email exchange, a user named Joana Voadora (Portuguese for "John Flynt") contacts Brianna Wu via email (during her infamous Twitter hiatus), and attempts to have a discussion with her about her constantly putting down development platforms that aren't Unreal Engine, including RPG Maker, Game Maker, Flash, and so on (Wu is known to have called such development tools "toys"). Joana brings up that these have been used to create a number of wildly successful titles and that putting down such development tools is not conducive to supporting women in the industry. Joana calls upon Wu to apologize, and politely thanks her for her time.
What would follow would be one of the most bizarre responses ever seen in the chronicling of Brianna Wu by the Kiwi Farms. Brianna leads off by, rather than discussing the issue, launching into a long-winded tirade about how hard being Brianna Wu is, and she immediately goes into a lengthy treatise about GamerGate, despite it having absolutely nothing to do with the topic at hand. She then complains about the ideological pummeling she received from her fellow GamerGate opponents for daring to defend capitalism, before claiming she's a Businesswoman and that she pays people money to produce content. She then proceeds to prattle on about how oppressed she is, before going on about how the letter Joana sent her makes her want to quit working entirely. She then says she will get into the details of why she calls such development tools toys - and never does so, claiming that they're great to learn on but not something you can pay your rent on - especially ironic given that the games Joana mentioned - Hotline Miami, Undertale, LISA, OFF, and Spelunky - have all been critical and commercial successes - whereas Brianna's own Revolution 60 has been a complete failure. She blames her parents for her not completing college, and admits, for the first time in any written piece of media we've seen from Wu thus far, that she never graduated college.
This exchange enshrines a lot of what we've seen from Brianna Wu so far - her culture of professional victimhood, her willingness to sell out anyone for her own agenda, and her tendency to grandstand - but it's the curious placing the blame on her parents - the ones who financed her failed animation studio, got her involved with politics, and ultimately helped get her into rehab for her Ambien addiction - that she blames for being the reason she could not graduate. In this, Wu establishes that anything less than complete capitulation - even from her Parents - is treated as yet one more example of how oppressed she is. By all accounts, Wu ditched her parents after they stopped coddling her and treated them as persona non grata thereafter.
Joana Voadora Email Transcript
Hi, I sent this e-mail to you a few weeks back but I don't think you ever got it. I must have used the wrong address to do so. I hope resending you this again won't bother you.
Here is my message, unedited:
Please excuse me if this is the wrong channel to contact you. I know you have Twitter but I don't use it, and frankly I don't think it's the best medium for what I would like to ask of you.
First, let me contextualize what I need you to hear:
How can these game engines be considered "toys"? They can and are to many people their first door into game developing and the video game industry. Plenty of great games have arised from such "toy" engines: Hotline Miami, Undertale, LISA, OFF, Spelunky, Yume Nikki, etc. And three of them were released recently, so it's not like they are a fad from the 90s or 2000s.
In fact, a friend of mine is making her own game on her own, and I root for her to achieve that one day. Can you imagine how upset she would feel that her game could be considered a "toy" game just because of its engine?
I understand that you are an important figure in the tech industry, especially in relation to women and other minorities and their necessary inclusion in it.
So I ask you to please apologize for this. It can be disempowering to women out there such as my friend to hear such things. I know it was just a comment on the side, but it is like you said, "death by 1000 cuts", correct? I am sure you of all people don't want to keep participating in this cycle of unintentional bigotry.
In fact, if you are willing to do so, it would be very interesting to see you try working with such engines during your free time, after you ship Revolution 60. (By the way, while I may not particularly like you all the time, I think your game is awesome! Stoked for the PC release!) You are a software engineer and you once said you were "the leading expert on Unreal Engine" so I don't believe learning how to use these other engines would particularly be difficult for you.
I am sorry for my strong wording on this. I don't mean to offend you or place doubts on your professionalism and experience in such matters. I am just upset, really. And sorry again for possibly using the wrong channels to send you this message. Are there any other private ways I can reach you? I just don't really like Twitter, to be honest.
Thanks for listening and have a good day,
Brianna Wu Response Mail Transcript
While I can appreciate the spirit in which this was sent, I want you to consider a different perspective than your friend. I want you to consider what it’s like to be Brianna Wu.
The constant harassment of Gamergate has become a part of my life that no one seems to really care about anymore. Last week, I was doxed to more than 15,000 people. There’s no press, it’s a just a normal part of being a woman in a field I used to love. It’s affected my happiness and my health deeply.
I need to tell you, what’s currently damage me just as much is people that supposedly have my same values insisting I agree with them on everything, and harassing me if I don’t. While your letter isn’t harassment, it’s part of this demand for ideological purity that is tremendously draining to me. Two weeks ago, I said something vaguely positive about capitalism while simultaneously critiquing it, and was bullied for two days left by a rabid leftist mob..
This kind of mob punishment of anyone deemed ideologically impure isn’t a good trait for the right, and it’s not good for the left.
The left owns academia. The left owns youth culture. But the left has an uphill battle in corporate institutions in tech where the power and policy is currently set. I’m not a rebel indie dev living off crowdfunded support, or an academic producing feminist media. I’m a businesswoman that secures capital and pays people money to produce creative content. That may not be your dream, but it’s mine - and we deeply need women like me building companies and working to improve these institutions.
I have fought tooth and nail inside these institutions, in battles that really only cost me career, sanity and access. I can point to many direct policy changes I helped shape. These are things I am positioned to do that other feminists can’t - because they don’t work here.
But today, I worked a 12 hour day, and I’m getting a second email from you demanding a response to a sin you perceive.
I am tired, Joana. I’m burnt. And this letter just makes me want to quit because what is the fucking point?
I’ve never met Jason, the man in that Tweet you’re angry about. But he’s someone I deeply treasure in my life. He’s a positive presence, and someone with a kind word. From my perspective, I was having a private conversation with a friend, and you and demanding I atone for that opinion.
I want to share what I mean by calling it a toy.
I was homeless after my parents disowned me. I’ve never finished college actually, because with three classes left, they left me without any ability to eat, bathe or clothe myself. I was living out of my car for over a month.
The one reason I was able to get a foothold and not die were the tech skills I had developed. I’m 38 now. I think I toured 20 colleges last year, and students often ask me what they should study. From that experience, I think it’s important to develop tech skills with wide commercial applications.
Those engines are great to learn on - but they are not time investments that you will be able to pay your rent with. That is the comment I was making to my friend and not to the public. Do you really require a pound of flesh for this today?
I do not belong to you. Brianna Wu