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Brianna Wu addresses gender divides

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Game designer advocates for more female representation in video game industry

​National Agenda 2017 welcomed guest speaker Brianna Wu on September 6.

Article by the Center for Political Communication, September 13, 2017.

Event Review: Watch the video. Listen to the podcast. Read the transcript. Media Review: Read about it in UDaily and The Review. Watch the STN49 candid interview.

To kick off this fall’s “As We Stand | Divided” speaker series, the University of Delaware welcomed engineer and video game designer Brianna Wu, who addressed the issue of gender divides in America. Wu told a packed audience about her efforts to advocate for the rights of other female professionals in the male-dominated gaming industry.

UD’s Center for Political Communication hosts its annual National Agenda speaker series to promote civil and constructive dialogue about current issues affecting today’s political landscape in America. This year’s series explores the many divides that exist in the United States, including gender, geographic, religious, partisan, and cultural.

Brianna Wu spoke about the objectification of women in video games, which has been an issue for a long time. “For the most of the last 30 years of gaming history, women, very generally speaking, have been the over-sexualized damsel in distress or the reward." When Wu established GSX, an independent video game studio in Boston, she set out to create strong female characters. “I wanted women to be able to be the heroes the same way men were the heroes.” Her studio’s most recent release is Revolution 60: Special Edition.

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Wu calls for a new generation of political leaders

Brianna Wu with Lindsay Hoffman

Game designer Brianna Wu discussed gender divides in the video game industry as part of UD's fall 2017 National Agenda speaker series, "As We Stand, Divided."

In 2014, Wu became a target of cyber bullies after she criticized alt-right members of the Gamergate movement on social media. Gamergate is a controversial movement centered on the inclusion of women in video games, with women gamers and game makers confronting men who are uncomfortable with allowing women into their territory. Wu received “extremely terrifying, specific death threats” and countless obscene remarks aimed at her via social media, which ultimately forced her to flee her home. One Tweet read, “I hope you enjoy your last moments alive on this earth. You did nothing worthwhile with your life.” Her story was fictionalized in the media, including in an episode of Law & Order: SVU and on The Sci-Fi Channel.

Now a 2018 Democratic candidate for U.S. Congress in Massachusetts, District 8, Wu said that the Democratic Party is “in ruins.” Recalling when Republicans took over Congress in 1994, she said, “I remember at the moment thinking my God, I have never seen government this divided ever … but the truth is that has just been the norm for over 20 years now.”

Explaining why she is running for Congress, Wu said, “I think that it’s time for a new generation of leaders to step up, to do the right thing, to get engaged in the process… and to stand up and make our voice heard.”

“We’re out there, we’re angry, and we’re running for office,” she said. “And not just women—we need more people of color running for office too. We need all different kinds of perspectives.”

With nationally known speakers, the National Agenda program encourages students, staff, faculty, and community members to join the conversation. CPC Associate Director Dr. Lindsay Hoffman moderates the series. She also teaches Communication and Political Science. National Agenda is made possible by generous support from the University of Delaware's Office of the Provost. To view previous National Agenda presentations, please visit the University of Delaware National Agenda YouTube Channel.

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