According to Game Politics’ website, game designer Brianna Wu has announced that she is setting up a legal defense fund for women who have been harassed online during the course of the recent and ongoing Gamergate discussion. Announcing this via Tumblr, Wu says “the fund will pay lawyers to find cases on libel and defamation and prosecute them in civil court. These cases might be mine, or they might be other women targeted by Gamergate. It will be cases the legal team feels they can win.”
So far, Wu’s only published game has been Revolution 60, an iOS-only title that was intended to combat what the developer sees as a testosterone-fueled industry.
Wu also commented with the following:
“Sadly, fighting back is all these bullies understand. I’m in the process of making sure the fund complies with our legal and tax structure. My suggestion to anyone in Gamergate is to think very carefully about saying something libelous or defamatory about the women you target.”
There is no doubt a metric crap-ton of harassment aimed at women in gaming but rarely do I see any of it sporting the #GamerGate hashtag. I asked Wu via email if the fund was specifically for harassment by GamerGate or more for the type of harassment associated with GamerGate.
“I suppose it would be for the harassment associated with Gamergate,” she said. “Again, I am not a lawyer—so any thing I say here would be speculation. My goal is to make the industry a safer place for women to work.”
No word on whether she will extend this to male developers who have been harassed just as hard. Brad Wardell, who is still continually harassed about a false, dismissed case of sexual harassment from his past, is frequently bullied online by people who claim to be against such harassment. Denis Dyack, too, was infamously harassed.
This might not matter, since someone who understands the law recently posted a response to this elsewhere, and I post their comment here to put a different perspective on the issue:
- Legal defense fund idea won’t go anywhere unfortunately. I suspect she hasn’t really had a lengthy sit down with a good lawyer yet.
Despite nearly every state in the US having online harassment laws, online harassment is still extremely common. That is mostly due to anonymity encouraging people to say things they otherwise would not say. That same anonymity makes it extremely difficult to find people who are doing it. There are also limits to what kind of harassment is actionable. These laws vary from state to state. Generally in the US, you can say some truly awful things to or about a person online without breaking any laws or crossing into libel/slander. Plus, a lot of online harassment comes from other countries whose law enforcement will not be particularly interested in spending the time and effort to track down some people for saying mean shit on the internet.
It goes back to what anyone who has been on the net for more than 5 minutes should know: don’t feed the trolls.