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Game developer Zoe Quinn is the latest target of the Great Internet Lady Harassment Machine

zoequin
Zoe Quinn

Sometimes it seems like the internet, or at least huge portions of it, is essentially a giant harassment machine, directed primarily at women.

This week, the target of the Great Internet Lady Harassment Machine is game developer Zoe Quinn. Quinn, best known as the creator of the text-based Depression Quest, faced down two previous waves of harassment from gamer dudes who were angry about her game, for some gamer-dude reasons I can’t claim to understand, and who grew even angrier after Quinn spoke publicly about being harassed.

Her harassers claimed that she was lying about being harassed previously, and apparently figured there was no better way to prove that she hadn’t been harassed in the first place than by harassing her about her claims of harassment. I’m sorry if that’s confusing, but the “logic” of internet assholes tends to be a bit circular.

The latest wave of harassment is on a whole new level of viciousness. Because this time her haters have what they see as proof that she is indeed the evil [insert favorite anti-woman slur] that they’ve always claimed her to be. Their alleged smoking gun consists of a series of excruciatingly detailed blog posts by a vengeful ex-boyfriend describing how she allegedly cheated on him and lied about it; at roughly 10,000 words in all, not counting all the screenshots of online conversations presented as proof of his claims, his story is nearly the length of a novella.

You might ask: why is any of this any of our business? It’s fucking not. Some have tried to claim this is about “ethics,” accusing Quinn of trading sexual favors for a positive game review. But the journalist she allegedly slept with never actually wrote a review of her game.

Of course this has nothing to do with any real ethical concerns on the part of her attackers. As Quinn has pointed out herself, the people who are gleefully sharing her personal information, posting nude pictures of her, sending her threats, and otherwise trying to destroy her life don’t have any fucking ethics.

No, this is just another excuse to go after an outspoken woman on the internet, and a chance for misogynistic gamer dudes to score a symbolic victory against any and all women who are trying to enter what these guys want to see as a clubhouse where girls aren’t allowed. Anita Sarkeesian has been dealing with the same sort of shit ever since she first set out to examine sexism in the gaming world.

I honestly don’t have the psychic energy to collect together examples of the horrible shit people are saying about her; just type her name into Google along with your favorite anti-woman slur and you’ll have more proof than you need. Or go to Reddit and make your way to any of the numerous subreddits devoted to gaming and/or misogyny, where many people will be thrilled to tell you all about how “the video game industry is being fucked over because of these women.” (Actual quote.)

Quinn has said all I think she needs to say about this in an eloquent blog post of her own. Here’s a portion of it:

I am not going to link to, or address anything having to do with the validity of the specific claims made by an angry ex-boyfriend with an axe to grind and a desire to use 4chan as his own personal army. This is not a “she-said” to his “he-said”. The idea that I am required to debunk a manifesto of my sexual past written by an openly malicious ex-boyfriend in order to continue participating in this industry is horrifying, and I won’t do it. It’s a personal matter that never should have been made public, and I don’t want to delve into personal shit, mine or anyone else’s, while saying that people’s love and sex lives are no one’s business. I’m not going to talk about it. I will never talk about it. It is not your goddamned business.

What I *am* going to say is that the proliferation of nude pictures of me, death threats, vandalization, doxxing of my trans friends for having the audacity to converse with me publicly, harassment of friends and family and my friends’ family in addition to TOTALLY UNRELATED PEOPLE, sending my home address around, rape threats, memes about me being a whore, pressures to kill myself, slurs of every variety, fucking debates over what my genitals smell like, vultures trying to make money off of youtube videos about it, all of these things are inexcusable and will continue to happen to women until this culture changes. I’m certainly not the first. I wish I could be the last.

Because I’ve had a small degree of success in a specific subculture, every aspect of my life is suddenly a matter of public concern. Suddenly it’s acceptable to share pictures of my breasts on social media to threaten and punish me. Suddenly I don’t have any right to privacy or basic dignity. Suddenly I don’t get to live out normal parts of life, like going through a bad and ugly breakup in private. I have forfeited this by being a blip in a small community, while those who delight in assailing me hide behind their keyboards and a culture that permits it, beyond reproach.

My life and my body are not public property. No one’s life and body are public property.

Sexuality is one of the most personal, hurtful, and easy things to demonize a woman over, and also has nothing to do with my games. Yet large swaths of the gaming community are either unable or unwilling to separate the two. I’m convinced that my ex chose 4chan as the staging ground for his campaign of harassment and character assassination because he knew this; he knew that someone claiming to be “from the Internet” has shown up at my house once already, and he is counting on the most reviled hubs of our community to live up to their sordid reputations. This is another example of gendered violence, whereby my personal life becomes a means to punish my professional credentials and to try to shame me into giving up my work. I’m still committed to doing my small part to create a world where no woman is at risk of experiencing this.

I don’t have anything to add.

This is a NO TROLLS, NO MRAS thread. Anyone posting any doxxing shit in the comments below, or adding to the harassment against her in any way, will be banned.

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FrieVonFrieburger
FrieVonFrieburger
6 years ago

I wish I could be surprised by this, I just can’t anymore. As if this wasn’t bad enough, it’s going to be a perfect excuse for foolish games commentators who either don’t or won’t understand what’s actually happening to grind their personal ‘I hate Social Justice Warriors’ axes.

Many gamers and game critics try very hard to change the culture of misogyny that surrounds the subject, but moments like this are reminders of what a sisyphean task that is.

BluLanturn
BluLanturn
6 years ago

Thanks for the post, I’ve been trying to parse this whole situation for days. I guess the only thing I’m concerned about or at least just confused about was the claims of sexual harassment someone made against her. I guess those were made by the same ex?

Johanna Roberts
6 years ago

Well this explains why my tumblr was on fire this morning. Holy shit. I can’t stand these tactics and I hope she’s taking everything she needs to ensure her own mental health and safety. :/

BrandonSP
6 years ago

They may not technically qualify as reviews, but Nathan Grayson DID mention Zoe and her game in a couple of articles he wrote after the alleged sex incident:

http://tmi.kotaku.com/the-indie-game-reality-tv-show-that-went-to-hell-1555599284

http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2014/01/08/admission-quest-valve-greenlights-50-more-games/

These are the articles I’ve seen cited as the ones Grayson wrote after Zoe bribed him with sex.

cloudiah
6 years ago

Everyone: Please be on the lookout for trolls/MRAs and report to David/the mods immediately! futrelle.com and/or whtmmods@hotmail.com

On another note, even if she had slept with journalists who then wrote favorable reviews of her game… (which it appears is not what happened) … wouldn’t the ethical lapse there be on the part of the journalists?

jbgarner58
6 years ago

I have nothing to add to that wonderful summation by Quinn except to add ‘Ditto!’.

BrandonSP
6 years ago

“On another note, even if she had slept with journalists who then wrote favorable reviews of her game… (which it appears is not what happened) … wouldn’t the ethical lapse there be on the part of the journalists?”

From what I’ve read of this, even if the journalists consented, it was Zoe who bribed them in the first place. Therefore she sorta is the initiator of the wrong-doing here (assuming the allegations are true).

Luzbelitx
6 years ago

I’m glad Quinn is able to give such a magnificent reply. I think this is part of a collective learning we are engaged in, due to the GILHM. Hopefully, we will all become articulate and resistant when facing online harassment at some point in time.

Or the assholes will get tired and go home? Am I dreaming too hard?

Zolnier
Zolnier
6 years ago

Someone on an IRC channel I frequent kept posting links to that blog; I thought there was a reason it bored the shit out of me.

Nova
Nova
6 years ago

Go Zoe! You have some incredible class and dignity in dealing with this. She really said it all.

Who cares who she slept with? She’s an adult and she’s allowed to choose who she has sex with. This should be a total non issue, but… alas, misogyny is alive and well.

weirwoodtreehugger
6 years ago

I’ll bet the douchey dudebros who think any possible wrongdoing Quinn did in her personal life disqualifies her from having a career in gaming are the same people who don’t think the transgressions committed by men like Woody Allen or Roman Polanski mean one can’t enjoy their movies.

Separating the art from the artist is apparently something that goes on the long list of male privileges.

sparky
sparky
6 years ago

Wow. Just, wow.

So her big crime, the one that first put her in these asshole’s radar, was that she was a woman who made a game? And now they think it’s appropriate to harrass her?

This is just out-right pure hate right here. I hope she stays safe.

Goddamnned assholes.

BreakfastMan
6 years ago

Despite being a huge game fan, I fucking despise the gaming community. They are by far the most bigoted fan-base I have ever had the displeasure of interacting with. I used to really like posting on gaming boards at one point, but not anymore. The community is so despicable, and there are so few people who aren’t (around 95% awful stupids, only around 5% decent people). And this shit happens every other month. Anita Sarkeesian, Caroline Petit, hell, even Phil Fish. It is vile.

weirwoodtreehugger
6 years ago

From what I’ve read of this, even if the journalists consented, it was Zoe who bribed them in the first place. Therefore she sorta is the initiator of the wrong-doing here (assuming the allegations are true).

Why are you making that assumption? The sleeping their way to the top accusation is always highly gendered. I honestly can’t remember that claiming ever being made about a man. Think about the implications of what you’re assuming.

BrandonSP
6 years ago

“Who cares who she slept with? She’s an adult and she’s allowed to choose who she has sex with. This should be a total non issue, but… alas, misogyny is alive and well.”

Again, the issue is NOT that she cheated on her boyfriend, it’s that she apparently used sex to bribe certain journalists into mentioning her game in their articles (even if the articles in question didn’t technically qualify as “reviews”). If it really happened, that really is manipulative behavior.

As for the journalists’ culpability, yes, they would have also been in the wrong to go along with the ruse. Nonetheless, it’s Zoe who’s claiming to be a victim of sexism here, so she is the one who is pissing people off at the most (not that sexualized insults are ever justified).

BrandonSP
6 years ago

“Why are you making that assumption? The sleeping their way to the top accusation is always highly gendered. I honestly can’t remember that claiming ever being made about a man. Think about the implications of what you’re assuming.”

Again, I am only going by what I have read on this topic so far. The very fact that I said “assuming the allegations are true” should clearly indicate that I’m not 100% sure who has all the facts here.

hellkell
hellkell
6 years ago

Brandon, so fucking what? Even if it did happen–which it didn’t because no review from that person–does that make the shit Quinn is getting OK?

If you think it does, you can fuck right off.

Fibinachi
6 years ago

Sorry, what?

They may not technically qualify as reviews, but Nathan Grayson DID mention Zoe and her game in a couple of articles he wrote after the alleged sex incident:

http://tmi.kotaku.com/the-indie-game-reality-tv-show-that-went-to-hell-1555599284

http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2014/01/08/admission-quest-valve-greenlights-50-more-games/

These are the articles I’ve seen cited as the ones Grayson wrote after Zoe bribed him with sex.

I… but that’s… One of those is about a game show, a game show this person was on and where, in order to write about what happened on that game show, they would need to mention this person.

Were they supposed to go “And participating was Z, X Y and also [Blank]”?

The other is literally a list. Like, it’s a list, of 50 games that was just released on Greenlight. That’s it.

At least if someone’s crying conspiracy, it’d be great with slightly more substance than this. Not that that would really make harassment okay, or reasonable, or the sort of thing anyone should do, but if you’re seriously going to argue that “she slept with a journalist and he mentioned her in writing” at the very fucking least make it so it’s not literally a list of released games, where it’s 1 out of 50.

I just… what the… That’s just beyond stupid.

Fibinachi
6 years ago

“You” being the general “you”, not direct at you – Brandon. Sorry, that was unclear. I meant “you” as the “internet hivemind”

sparky
sparky
6 years ago

Nonetheless, it’s Zoe who’s claiming to be a victim of sexism here, so she is the one who is pissing people off at the most (not that sexualized insults are ever justified).

What? So being called gendered slurs, harrassed, doxxed, having nude pictures being spread around the Internet, rape threats and death threats doesn’t make her a “victim of sexism?”

This is over the line.

BrandonSP
6 years ago

“Brandon, so fucking what? Even if it did happen–which it didn’t because no review from that person–does that make the shit Quinn is getting OK?”

Again, the allegation is not necessarily that anyone wrote a REVIEW of her game. I already provided links to the articles people are claiming were written after she bribed Grayson. They are not really reviews of the game in question, but they do draw attention to it by mentioning it.

But yes, the sexualized insults that Zoe has received are crude, over-the-top, and of course sexist.

cloudiah
6 years ago

Again, the issue is NOT that she cheated on her boyfriend, it’s that she apparently used sex to bribe certain journalists into mentioning her game in their articles

@Brandon, I think by “apparently” you mean “allegedly but without any proof.” Unless you have proof that you just aren’t providing.

More importantly, even if she is a manipulative, terrible person (which I have no opinion about either way; I don’t know her), the point is that NO ONE DESERVES TO BE SHIT ON LIKE THIS. PEOPLE SHOULDN’T HAVE TO BE IMMACULATE ANGELS TO AVOID BEING DOXXED AND HARASSED ON THE INTERNET BY 4CHAN AND MRAS.

Bina
Bina
6 years ago

Every so often, I get to wondering why I’m not a gamer. And then I read something like this, and it all comes back to me. Being a woman on the internet, in general, is to be exposed to misogyny and hateful commentary on the regular. Even conservative Anglican ministers’ wives have had to deal with it. And this for expressing the most modest, harmless opinions possible. If you are a female of any description, being visible and having something to say for yourself is just too much for some guys. So they have to put you in “your place” in the crudest and most frightening ways imaginable.

Small wonder that what Zoe Quinn describes all sounds so familiar.

Gethsemani
Gethsemani
6 years ago

As a gamer this disgusts me. It has already made the rounds on the board I usually frequent, with all the usual accusations of how this taints feminism forever or how she slept to the top and all that stuff. The kicker in all this? Stephen Totilo, Chief editor of Kotaku, has issued an official statement about Grayson (the “reviewer” who never reviewed anything) and Quinn in which he reveals that their affair occurred after the last time Grayson wrote anything about Quinn. If this was really about “corruption in gaming media” (which is what all the misogynists are using as their official explanation to continue the slander) this would be a shut case by now…

I am with BreakfastMan on this one. I love gaming, but the longer I stick around the community the more I despise it. Also hi, BreakfastMan! Cool to still see you kicking around the internetz.

cloudiah
6 years ago

Shut up, Brandon. The fact that the harassment and doxxing are the afterthought for you, while the fact that Zoe Quinn might not be the world’s best person is the primary issue, tells me enough about you to know I don’t need to hear any more.

Fibinachi
6 years ago

Wait scratch that, that Rock Paper Shotgun article had a pun in the title called Admission Quest, so this proves without any kind of doubt that this person is worthy of EXTREME VILLIFICATION and should be rolled in tar and feathers and run out of the city and burned at the stake! Purity, not puns! Purity, not puns!

I’m actually angry now, because this is just stupid. I’m going to go do something constructive, like lift heavy things and put them on the ground repeatedly, because I fucking bet that’s slightly more reasonable than getting upset about a pun.

weirwoodtreehugger
6 years ago

Again, I am only going by what I have read on this topic so far. The very fact that I said “assuming the allegations are true” should clearly indicate that I’m not 100% sure who has all the facts here.

Again, this is an accusation only ever made against women who are successful. It never even occurs to anyone that a successful man has done that. It is a completely gendered accusation meant to discredit any woman who manages to succeed in a man’s field. The word “assuming” indicates that you believe it is true and are just saying that to maintain an air of objectivity.

am a long time fan of this site and an active feminist, but I am also a gamer and Zoe Quinn is absolutely in the wrong here.

And you just happened to finally make a post now? Yeah, right. Cool story.

bunnybunny
bunnybunny
6 years ago

Is there any evidence of conversations referencing this alleged trade of positive reviews for sex?

hellkell
hellkell
6 years ago

What is it with assholes named Brandon on this board? I’m sure there are lovely dudes named Brandon out there, but they don’t come here.

sparky
sparky
6 years ago

Zoe Quinn is a great example of the kind of pseudo feminists who abuse the mantle of feminism and social justice in order to further their own agenda and I personally abhor women like this and honestly feel that she has everything coming to her, especially given that there is an enormous amount of evidence pointing to her having instigated a false flag on Wizardchan in order garner further attention on herself.

Are you fucking kidding me? What is wrong with you people? Even if she did what her ex-boyfriend is claiming she did, that in no way justified the abuse she’s getting right now.

Rape and death threats and doxxing are not an appropriate response to this! At all!

I can’t believe I actually have to type this in a feminist space….

kirbywarp
kirbywarp
6 years ago

Get out of here with that shit, Brandon. Zoe is a victim of sexism, and probably will be for a while. There may be times and places to discuss allegations of misconduct and who was responsible, but that time is not now when she’s facing real credible harassment, and the place is not here where the focus is misogyny and not industry ethics.

OT:

Here’s the pattern. Woman A goes and does something misogynistic dude-bros don’t like. They harass her. The harassment continues until some sordid personal thing is revealed to the world about woman A. Harassment speeds up, citing personal thing as justification for harassment, a thing that would never have come up had the initial harassment not occurred.

Anarchonist
Anarchonist
6 years ago

@BrandonSP:

Nonetheless, it’s Zoe who’s claiming to be a victim of sexism here, so she is the one who is pissing people off at the most (not that sexualized insults are ever justified).

What the hell are you even arguing here?

Even if we agree with the backwards mentality that a woman sleeping with a man is always manipulative on the woman’s part (we don’t), you’re still missing the quite fucking obvious detail that Zoe Quinn is the one being harassed, so her “claims” of sexism are perfectly justified.

Why do you think the dudebros aren’t harassing the male journalist(s?) you’re referring to for being unprofessional, why do you think that is? Hint: Starts with “M” and ends in “isogyny”.

Fuck off.

Nova
Nova
6 years ago

So, first it’s “reviews” and when those could nit be produced, it becomes “mentions in an article,” which includes a mention in a group of 50 games?

Can you show any evidence that that the only reason she was mentioned was because she slept with the journalist? Or even that tge article was written (not published. Written.) after she slept with him?

What also saddens me is that the journalist is married, but… not a word of outrage that he cheated on his wife. Because, who cares, she’s just another disposable woman that doesn’t matter and, if she’s hurt, its her own fault for having feelings in the first place.

cloudiah
6 years ago

honestly feel that she has everything coming to her

And you can fuck off too, Emily. Seriously. If you’re a feminist who supports doxxing and harassment of feminists you think aren’t feminist enough, just go away.

sparky
sparky
6 years ago

Thank you, David.

You’d think that saying, right up there in the OP, “no trolls, no harrassing” would clue people in not to do those things.

Anarchonist
Anarchonist
6 years ago

Ok, what the fudge? Why is the froth from the mouth of misogynistic gamer dudes dripping over to WHTM, too? It’s bad enough out there right now.

Fuck it, I’m done. This is just vile.

cloudiah
6 years ago

Thanks, David.

BreakfastMan
6 years ago

@Gethsemani: Hi Geth, good to see you around these parts! Didn’t know you frequented here, but doesn’t really surprise me from the opinions you have expressed over the years. XD

But yeah, this is stupid, conspiracy shit on the level that Anita usually gets. I don’t know how the MRA has become so ingrained in gaming over the years, but I sure as hell don’t like it. It has gotten so bad that even non-feminists have grown disgusted with the community. I have a number of non-feminist friends back on The Escapist that I frequently chat with, and they have been tearing apart the and viciously mocking arguments against Quinn and Sarkeesian. Like, the community is just absurd. It is like the worst parts of the metal and comics communities got together and had a horrible, “It’s Alive”-style monster baby. D:

Bina
Bina
6 years ago

Zoe has damaged this movement beyond words by literally fucking her way into the industry.

Before you make statements like that, shouldn’t you present actual evidence, instead of just relying on a whackload of defamatory hearsay? Or would that also be damaging to feminism and the gaming community?

cerberustheasexual
cerberustheasexual
6 years ago

Also why the fuck are we trusting anything the ex says, given that he’s already proven himself to be a complete fucking controlling abuser what with deliberately seeking to get the girl who’s “no longer his” abused and harassed by the worst corner of the internet after she has already been the subject of harassment campaigns specifically telling her to kill herself and trying to exploit her depression?

I mean, fuck, that’s some epic monster level shit and we’re all supposed to believe he’s not the hyper-jealous and controlling fuck he’s demonstrating himself to be, but rather a reasonable and unbiased disseminator of information. It’s some Bizarro World logic long before we even consider the notion that even if he was this sage and truth-telling innocent, his “list of crimes” is jack-the-fuck-all and not remotely a reason for anyone to even give a fuck, much less devote themselves to destroying a random game developer for “community purity”.

Fuck, there’s not a single part of this that isn’t dripping with outright misogyny, transphobia (in the doxxing of her trans* friends), hatred of women’s participation in spaces that some men have decided are “men’s spaces”, and the casual way in which harassment and abuse are treated by general society and the overly punitive way even rumors of women’s sexuality are treated as a grave social crime (yes, fucking STILL).

It’s enough to make one vomit.

Lea
Lea
6 years ago

How is having a fling a bribe? How the fuck is that anyone’s business? How would that “damage the industry”? You know what damages the industry? Fucking misogynist harassers terrorizing women for the crime of being women who dare to have an interest in gaming. What a bunch of sexist bullshit, Brandon. GTFO, troll.

Bina
Bina
6 years ago

Also: I highly doubt that even if Zoe Quinn has done everything she is accused of and then some (assuming for the sake of argument that she has), it would constitute some kind of irreparable damage to feminism OR gaming. Both of those things are older than she is, and I’m sure they can survive whatever she may or may not be throwing at them just fine.

And oh yeah: Shitty, lazy, stinky journalism also pre-exists her. And for the longest time, most of that was done exclusively by and for MEN. Yet funnily, I don’t see that getting dealt with here, even though a breach of journalistic ethics is presumably at issue.

Yeah, tell me this isn’t some kind of sexist witch-hunt.

weirwoodtreehugger
6 years ago

What Brandon and Emily aren’t acknowledging is the tendency of our society to demand that members of marginalized groups be perfect in order to not face bigotry.

Misogyny is never acceptable. Who the individual is doesn’t matter because it’s directed against all women. That’s the issue. Not who Zoe Quinn is as a person. Nobody is perfect so I’m sure Quinn is no exception. That doesn’t make gendered harassment acceptable ever. Emily, you have a lot to learn about feminism if you ever entertained the thought that she had it coming.

BreakfastMan
6 years ago

@cerberustheasexual: See, what you aren’t getting is that he is a man and she is an EEEEVIL woman. Therefore, he is automatically more trustworthy than her! -_-

Lea
Lea
6 years ago

Her ex has to be breaking laws here by posting nudes of her for revenge, libeling her in an attempt to damage her career and instigating harassment and putting her in real physical danger. There is no way that is legal.

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
6 years ago

So Brandon thinks that if Quinn did bribe a journalist with sex that would make the current campaign of harassment led by her vengeful ex justified? Ban the misognistic little fucker.

I know I’ve said it before, but again – I’ve been in and worked around some industries that are notoriously sexist (tech and music for example), and the gaming industry still manages to make them look like a conference full of feminist hippies, comparatively speaking. I’ve encountered sexism in lots of different places, but nerd-centric spaces are consistently the very worst in terms of how women are treated.

Bina
Bina
6 years ago

Revenge porn is illegal in California. It ought to be a federal crime in all countries, quite frankly.

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