In January 2015, YouTube user ParkourDude91, aka Jace Connors, uploaded a deranged video in which he claimed game developer Brianna Wu had tried to assassinate him. Connors stood in front of a car he had purportedly crashed while on his way to confront Wu.
The internet was taken in by the strange and scary video, citing it as another example of a GamerGate supporter's strange obsession with female game developers like Wu, Zoe Quinn and critic Anita Sarkeesian.
However, Buzzfeed has revealed that Jace Connors - who uploads vitriolic videos online in which he brandishes a knife, usually in front an American flag, yelling about everything from Barrack Obama to longboarding - is in fact the creation of 20-year-old Jan Rankowski, who is affiliated with a cult comedy group called Million Dollar Extreme.
In an interview with Buzzfeed, Rankowski said he had intended to lampoon "the over the top, super-hyper-macho armed Gamergater" but revealed that many of the forums and websites like 4chan, and 8chan, where the GamerGate movement originated, had begun to work out that Connors was his creation.
"They realized I was making fun of them with those videos," Rankowski said. "I started it as a joke, but it's become far too real and I wish I could take it all back."
GamerGate is an online movement which claims to be championing better ethics in games journalism but which – since its inception in August 2014 – has been heavily linked to sustained campaigns of harassment against outspoken women in the industry.
The controversy was one of the video game industry's darkest hours, but now the movement is substantially depleted.
Asked about the Brianna Wu video, Rankowski said he really did crash his car, then came up with the rest of the video on the spot. Not long after the video went viral, the aforementioned forums began to link the Connors character with videos created by Rankowski as part of Million Dollar Extreme.
"People have been calling my old high school; calling my work and saying these nasty things about me," he said. "I was made to sign a contract at my job saying I wouldn't make any of these videos again.
"I received a letter in the mail with a picture of me from my high school yearbook. It said I shouldn't have f**ked with 8chan. Some kid stood outside my window throwing pebbles. And someone knocked on my door - it's a closed apartment, you shouldn't be able to get in. And then there was no one there."
While the Connors character was a creation intended for parody, that doesn't make up for the concern and worry caused by the Brianna Wu video. Wu herself was scared by the implications of the video, saying on Twitter that she wanted Connors arrested.