'Bomb Will Be Detonated if Sarkeesian Wins Award', GDC Told

Police called in after email sent to event officials claimed: "The bomb will kill at least a dozen people and injure dozens more."

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An anonymous email sent to 25 organisers of the Game Developers Choice Awards promised that a bomb would kill "at least a dozen" attendees of the show if the feminist essayist Anita Sarkeesian won one of its awards.

Event management say the threat was sent hours before the awards show was set to commence, on March 19, where Sarkeesian was due to become the first female to be presented with the Ambassador Award.

A statement from the show's organisers, published on Kotaku, reads:

"We can confirm that approximately 25 of GDC's organizers received an anonymous email early in the morning of Wednesday, March 19th, 2014 during GDC 2014. The email stated the following: 'A bomb will be detonated at the Game Developer's Choice award ceremony tonight unless Anita Sarkeesian's Ambassador Award is revoked. We estimate the bomb will kill at least a dozen people and injure dozens more. It would be in your best interest to accept our simple request. This is not a joke. You have been warned.'"

Sarkeesian has won widespread respect from within the industry for her video essays that highlight unflattering depictions of women across a broad spectrum of games.

But her work has agitated a number of gamers, often male, who believe her claims are excessive and unwarranted. Some of these critics have repeatedly threatened Sarkeesian, often with sexual violence, since she became an influential speaker on gender issues in games.

Despite the bomb threats, Anita Sarkeesian received the GDC Ambassador Award without incident. Image: GDC Flickr
Despite the bomb threats, Anita Sarkeesian received the GDC Ambassador Award without incident. Image: GDC Flickr

When informed of the bomb threat, GDC organisers contacted the San Francisco Police Department's Explosive Ordinance Disposal Division, which sent officers and bomb-sniffing dogs to the Moscone Center, where GDC is held.

"Our EOD conducted a sweep of the premises and found nothing," SFPD spokesperson Albie Esparza told Kotaku.

After the sweep, GDC officials decided to not inform attendees of the threat, but say "additional security staff were brought in to conduct random bag checks as attendees entered the Awards."

On the night, Sarkeesian received the Ambassador Award as planned without incident.

"I decided to go on stage and accept the award anyway, but it was a nerve-wracking evening to say the least," she told Kotaku.

"Despite the seriousness of the situation, a group of obsessive cyberstalkers have started a witch hunt against me attempting to prove some sort of paranoid conspiracy theory about fabricated threats. There are ongoing investigations in multiple municipalities regarding death threats targeting me and my family."

She says that a campaign of hate against her has "further compromised my privacy and my personal safety as well as serving as a distraction to authorities during an ongoing investigation."

In August, Sarkeesian informed the FBI about a particular threat that had intimidated her to the extent that she vacated her home and slept at a friend's house.

Episode one of Sarkeesian's "Tropes vs Women" video essays is published below.

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