Death Threats Force Dev Out of PAX East

Brianna Wu's indie studio Giant Spacekat will no longer attend games event; PAX hosts assure Police presence.

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Indie studio Giant Spacekat has announced that it will no longer attend next month's gaming convention PAX East in Boston due to threats of violence. Giant Spacekat studio head Brianna Wu, who has faced death threats before and appeared on national television to discuss online harassment, announced the news this week on the developer's website.

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She explained that while attending PAX East with a looming threat of violence is a risk she and her husband would personally take on, she "will not make that choice for the people I work with."

"After talking to them, I made the decision to prioritize 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," she explained.

Wu explained that working a show like PAX means directly interacting with potentially thousands of strangers for three straight days. She pointed out that two of the "most serious" threats against her have come from inside Massachusetts, where she lives. As a result, "That threat is something I must take seriously."

"We had a conversation as a team, and they voted," Wu added. "They do not feel comfortable with this. As their leader, I heard that and I'm going to respect it."

Also in the blog post, Wu took issue with PAX co-organizer Mike Krahulik, who found himself in hot water last year over public comments, which he has since apologized for.

"Mike Krahulik said himself that he is a bully, and I agree with that statement," she said. "The reason Giant Spacekat has continued to attend PAX has specifically been because the Enforcers and PAX staff are awesome."

Wu adds that she attempted to reach PAX organizers to voice her security concerns, but her three calls were left unanswered. She went on to say that she has no reason to believe PAX East would be anything but safe for general attendees.

"But it doesn't feel safe to us," she said, noting that she will still attend the show in a limited capacity to speak as part of panels she previously agreed to.

PAX East organizers have since released the following statement to Polygon regarding security measures for the upcoming show.

"The safety of our attendees, panelists, and exhibitors is the number one priority for PAX. To achieve this, the show:

  • Conducts bag searches for all people entering the building
  • Has Boston PD in addition to the in house Building Security on site during all hours of the show
  • Enforces the six rules of PAX at every event, since the very first PAX"

Wu ended her statement by saying she is disappointed in video games as an industry.

"I think it speaks very poorly to the state of video games when threats and harassment preclude a team of women from showing their work at one of the industry's most important events," she said.

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