An anonymous e-mailer threatened to blow up a bomb at the Game Developers Choice Awards this past March unless the hosts rescinded an award recognizing feminist critic Anita Sarkeesian, the organizers of the event have confirmed to Kotaku.
"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 organizers said in a statement.
"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.'"
The threat merited the attention of 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 me this week. Asked what became of any investigation of the threat, he said the department had "no further information to share about that." Esparza said that the department responds to all bomb threats.
GDC organizers did not inform attendees of the threat but told me this week that "additional security staff were brought in to conduct random bag checks as attendees entered the Awards. The Awards occurred without incident."
The GDC website describes the Ambassador Award as one that goes to "an individual or individuals who have helped the game industry advance to a better place, either through facilitating a better game community from within, or by reaching outside the industry to be an advocate for video games and help further our art."
While the provenance of the bomb scare against Sarkeesian and GDC attendees is unknown, it appears to be part of a pattern of extreme threats made to the critic. Her controversial Tropes Vs. Women In Video Games series has stirred a reaction well beyond standard cultural criticism and counter-criticism, eliciting hate as well as rape and death threats, all but clouding out any civil discussion about her critiques.
The March bomb threat came to my attention last week while I was investigating claims that Sarkeesian had misled the public about measures she'd taken in response to threats she'd allegedly received in August, following the publication of her latest video about women in gaming. Sarkeesian had tweeted late last month that she'd notified the police about new, vicious threats.