Brianna Wu, a Boston-based software engineer known for standing up for women in the gaming industry has set her sights on Congress.
The 39-year-old game designer and entrepreneur announced her 2018 bid for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives via Facebook earlier this week.
While the paperwork has yet to be filed, Wu said the decision has been a long time coming.
“It’s something I’ve been thinking about my entire life,” she said. “With the election of Donald Trump and in particular with Steve Bannon getting a position as one of the leaders of the alt-right — a group slandering and attacking women, gay people and all kinds of minorities — I knew if I didn’t run now, I never would.”
The alt-right has ties to the GamerGate movement, a controversial collection of gamers opposed to women and progressivism in video game culture that targeted Wu for her criticisms of their ideology.
Wu, who co-founded the Boston game-design company Giant Space Kat,said she has received hundreds of death and rape threats since she first tweeted against the movement in 2014. She has had to move multiple times for fear of her family’s safety and this year alone she’s had to change her phone number three times.
Her announcement on social media says “She fought the alt-right and won. Now she’s fighting for all of us.”
Like the alt-right, the GamerGate movement spread via online message chat sites like Reddit and 4chan. Those associated with the movement have targeted several high-profile female game developers, including Wu, with online harassment known as “doxxing.”
Since announcing her candidacy Dec. 20, the threats have started up again, which she says is all part the of the GamerGate “playbook.”
“Any woman that speaks out, they attack, attack, attack,” Wu said.
“It’s a tactic. They get a few people together and create the impression of a tone of negativity.”
One man wrote “you’re going to lose, you stupid b**ch. I hope you get hit by a bus.”
It’s comments like these that have both terrified her and ultimately inspired her to seek office.
“There’s no consequences for anything they do and there should be,” she said, pointing to the alt-right’s role in Pizzagate.
Cyber terrorism and cyber harassment will be natural focuses of her candidacy, but Wu said she’s also economy minded.
She plans to focus on growing the tech and biotech industries, which she said are neglected.
“You know, we have 114 colleges. Yet, most of the students that graduate take our investment in them to San Fransisco or Austin. We have leaders that don’t understand those industries – and the truth is they’re neglected,” she said.
Although Wu didn’t vote for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the primary, she said she agrees with his values and wants to “pick up where he left off,” specifically on economic issues.
All nine congressional seats are up for election in 2018, but Wu has so far kept which district she will run in under wraps due to concerns for her family’s safety.