Fair Disclosure: I’m not particularly fond of Brianna Wu and any empathy I had for her evaporated after she published a petty and vindictive hit piece celebrating Ethan Ralph’s arrest with the stated intent of helping incarcerate him for a decade. I’m also not the most delicate when it comes to trans issues, so this article will be blunt and potentially offensive. I put this out in the open because I want to establish some trust and honesty when I say this:
Revolution 60 is Brianna Wu’s fetish.
Out of all the women closely associated with GamerGate, Wu is the odd one out. Zoe Quinn and Randi Lee Harper feel genuine but also opportunistic. Both of those women have gone on to shake hands with important people and organizations. Both have visited Google’s California HQ and Congress, and Quinn was invited to speak at the United Nations. Brianna Wu has not progressed in this way and took two years just to publish an already extant game to Steam. It comes across that Wu’s goal is GamerGate in and of itself, and her immediate whiplash reaction to Ethan Ralph’s arrest is a testimony to that. Revolution 60 is not just a game to Wu, it’s been her dream since she was a kid. Since before she became a woman.
Eighteen years ago, a 21-year-old named John published a comic strip series called Socially Unconscious featuring the same characters that appear in Revolution 60. Alisson Holiday is also the main character in both. It’s quite clear that these characters have been floating around in Wu’s head for decades, probably a decade before even this comic, and that’s fine. We all have our fantasy characters, and our fantasy depictions of ourselves.
While Revolution 60 was what finally made Brianna Wu’s cast notable to anyone other than herself, Wu first tried to refashion the visual novel into a radio play and even a full movie. This extremely obscure proposition that fell flat with publishers was called Election Eve. A full transcript of the movie can be found here. It’s mostly unremarkable and boring, except for this one really telling bit that exists at the very end as a special thanks.
"For my four girls, Allison, Brea, Lani and yes, even Minuete. I love each of you, you’re the children I’ll never need to have. Working to let other people meet you has lead to the best and worst parts of my life. Every hour writing this novel has been for you."
—Brianna Wu, then still John Walker Flynt
There’s a sort of real, visceral connection between Wu and her characters. What’s unsettling about this is just how sexualized they are and how sexualized they’ve always been. This depiction of them being (all at the same time) herself and her children hasn’t changed in over two decades. Even as a male teenager, then-Flynt imagined himself as a slender young girl with long, blonde hair pulled into a heart-shaped pony tail. She’s drawn the cast into multiple works, written them into comic strips, a radio drama, a feature-length film, and now finally a game. Each time, this hypersexualized, pubescent ideal of what constitutes womanhood and femininity is preserved perfectly and migrated into the new body of work, no matter how many years have passed.
In her game’s third-party EULA, Wu expressly and explicitly prohibits pornography being made of her characters. The entire EULA was eventually removed when people noticed this and started encouraging artists to make as much pornography as possible.
This sort of insecurity is why I’m sure this is a fetish. It isn’t like J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter (which was also a character she had thought about since childhood), this is a personal fantasy, and one you are only allowed to appreciate as-is and make no personal addendums to.
This is what ultimately is what sets Brianna Wu apart from Quinn and Harper: they both wanted to use GamerGate and the surrounding controversy to further themselves. They wanted to get in, make friends, and get out, but Wu doesn’t care about that. Brianna Wu wants to live the fantasies of John Flynt, to become Alisson Holiday dressed in futurist spandex fetish gear, to live in a society surrounded by intelligent women, and to punish and humiliate those stupid irredeemable men-folk like Ethan Ralph who intend disillusion her.
Revolution 60 is a self-aggrandizing fetish game by someone who has an unhealthy and unrealistic obsession regarding what femininity is.