|Born||1987 (age 28–29)
|Occupation||Video game developer|
|Known for||Depression Quest|
Zoë Tiberius Quinn (born 1987) is an American video game developer, programmer, writer, and artist. Quinn developed the interactive fiction Depression Quest, a Twine game released on Steam. In 2014, a blog post by her ex-boyfriend sparked the Gamergate controversy, in which Quinn was subject to extensive harassment.
Quinn was born in 1987 and spent her childhood in a small town near the Adirondack Mountains in New York. Growing up, she often played video games. One of her favorites was Commander Keen, an MS-DOS game featuring an eight-year-old protagonist who builds a spaceship with items found around his house and then travels the galaxy defending the Earth. As a teenager, Quinn suffered from depression; she was diagnosed with the condition at the age of 14. She has described receiving little sympathy or assistance from school district officials, who were, she says, "less than understanding about teens with depression and suicide issues".
At the age of 24, Quinn moved to Canada, where she made her first forays into video game programming. Her first game was the result of a six-week course on video-game creation that she attended after seeing an advertisement in a newspaper. In a later interview for The New Yorker, she said of this experience, "I felt like I'd found my calling."
Through her early game-development work, Quinn met Patrick Lindsey, a writer. Like Quinn, Lindsey struggled with depression. He felt that existing video games that dealt with the subject did not adequately depict the real emotions associated with depression, instead utilizing metaphor and symbolism. He suggested to Quinn that they write a new video game to better help others understand their experience. Quinn thought a game would be a good way to depict depression, imposing a set of rules on players they might not otherwise experience in their day-to-day lives. Quinn and Lindsey teamed with Isaac Schankler for the game's music, and released the final result of their collaboration, the text-based Depression Quest, in February 2013.
Depression Quest details the troubled life of a person suffering from depression. Quinn attempted to publish the game on Steam Greenlight service twice — in December 2013 and later in August 2014, when it was accepted and released by Steam. Depression Quest was featured in a Playboy article as one of several video games dealing with the subjective experience of depression.
In addition to her own game development projects, Quinn is also known for creating the Game Developer Help List, designed to bring experienced game developers and novice developers into contact with one another. In 2014, Quinn was to be part of the cancelled YouTube reality television show codenamed "Game_Jam", which was intended to bring together a number of prominent indie game developers. She has additionally worked on Fez, Jazzpunk, and They Bleed Pixels.
Quinn contributed a chapter to Videogames for Humans, a book about games made using the Twine tool. She also contributed a chapter to the book The State of Play: Sixteen Voices on Video Games, detailing her experiences making Depression Quest and the subsequent harassment she faced. In 2015, she appeared in the documentary GTFO. She wrote a scenario for "Widow's Walk", an expansion for Betrayal at House on the Hill, released in 2016. She is currently working with erotica author Chuck Tingle on a full motion video game under the working title "Project Tingler".
Harassment and Gamergate
In August 2014 a former boyfriend posted a lengthy blog post detailing his relationship with Quinn. Based on the contents of the post, Quinn was falsely accused of receiving positive coverage from a journalist with whom she was in a relationship. It was later shown that the journalist in question had only once briefly mentioned her work, and not while they were in a relationship. These accusations sparked the Gamergate controversy. Quinn has suffered a long period of harassment including doxing, rape threats, and death threats. Harassment associated with Gamergate resulted in widespread recognition of sexism in gaming.
According to The New Yorker, the harassment escalated to the point where Quinn, "fearing for her safety, chose to leave her home" and began working with the authorities to identify those responsible for the harassment. She detailed her experience in an interview on MSNBC's Ronan Farrow Daily, saying that Gamergate represented a rapidly shrinking fringe among an increasingly diverse gaming community and that those attacking her and other women in gaming needed "to just grow up". Speaking with BBC News, she said the harassment had consumed her life, leading her to feel as if she was "surrounded by nothing but hate — it's virulent, it's everywhere" and that she was "just trying to survive". The attacks on her boiled down to "the same accusation everybody makes toward every successful woman: she got to where she is because she had sex with someone" and she said Gamergate had targeted "the people with the least power in the industry". "[I] used to go to games events and feel like I was going home... Now it's just like... are any of the people I'm currently in the room with, the ones that said they wanted to beat me to death?" Quinn says her therapist remarked of the harassment, "I don't even know what to tell you, this is so f---ing far outside anything I'm aware of."
In January 2015, Quinn co-founded Crash Override, a private network of experts to assist victims of online harassment which in March 2015 joined forces with Randi Harper's Online Abuse Prevention Initiative.
On September 24, 2015, Quinn spoke at the United Nations along with Anita Sarkeesian about online harassment. Quinn spoke about the need for technology companies to provide proper moderation and terms of service which protect marginalized groups. She also specifically raised concerns about providing better protections for transgender women and victims of domestic violence on the Internet.
Quinn is interested in human enhancement, and has implanted an NTag216 chip in the back of her hand that can be programmed to perform various functions. Her first use of the chip was to load it with the download code for the game Deus Ex. She also has a magnetic implant in her left ring finger.
- Quinn, Zoë [unburntwitch] (25 March 2015). "Y'all thought i was playin about my middle name" (Tweet). Retrieved 18 August 2016 – via Twitter.
- Jason, Zachary (28 April 2015). "Game of Fear". Boston Magazine. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
- Parkin, Simon (9 September 2014). "Zoe Quinn's Depression Quest". The New Yorker. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
- "'Depression Quest' Now Available on Steam". Game Politics. 13 August 2014. Retrieved 23 August 2014.
- "Why the co-creator of Depression Quest is fighting back against Internet trolls". Edge. 23 January 2014. Archived from the original on 28 October 2014. Retrieved 30 May 2014.
- "Depression Quest Now Available on Steam for Free". AusGamers. Retrieved 18 August 2014.
- Rougeau, Mike (25 November 2014). "Resistance is Futile: The New Wave of Video Games about Depression". Playboy.com. Retrieved 27 November 2014.
- Wawro, Alex (18 December 2013). "Game Developer Help List rallies industry vets to aid rookie devs". Gamasutra. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
- Matulef, Jeffrey (1 April 2014). "Game jam reality show cancelled as indies wouldn't put up with its s***". Eurogamer. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
- "Framed Press Kit". Loveshack Entertainment. Retrieved 3 August 2015.
- Griffiths, Daniel Nye (30 April 2014). "Quest Love – 'Depression Quest' Creator Zoe Quinn Joins Hot Indie 'Framed'". Retrieved 17 September 2014.
- Donaldson, Ricky (18 April 2014). "Zoe Quinn's Follow Up To Depression Quest is a FMV Game". Retrieved 17 September 2014.
- Joseph, Daniel (4 May 2015). "What's a Twine Game? Let 'Videogames for Humans' Show You". Motherboard. Retrieved 24 August 2015.
- Tremblay, Kaitlin (20 August 2015). "Review: What Is The State of Play in Video Games Right Now?". The Mary Sue. Retrieved 24 August 2015.
- Ito, Robert (6 March 2015). "In the Documentary 'GTFO,' Female Video Gamers Fight Back". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 March 2015.
- Hall, Charlie (18 October 2016). "Betrayal at House on the Hill expansion is here in time for Halloween". Retrieved 4 November 2016.
- Warr, Phillippa (1 September 2016). "Zoe Quinn's FMV Chuck Tingle Dating Sim". Retrieved 4 November 2016.
- Stuart, Bob (24 October 2014). "#GamerGate: the misogynist movement blighting the video games industry — Telegraph". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 31 August 2015.
- Parkin, Simon (17 October 2014). "Gamergate: A Scandal Erupts in the Video-Game Community". The New Yorker. Retrieved 9 February 2016.
- Heron, Michael James; Belford, Pauline; Goker, Ayse (2014). "Sexism in the circuitry". ACM SIGCAS Computers and Society. Association for Computing Machinery. 44 (4): 18–29. doi:10.1145/2695577.2695582. ISSN 0095-2737.
- Levy, Karyne (2 September 2014). "Game Developers Are Finally Stepping Up To Change Their Hate-Filled Industry". Business Insider. Retrieved 7 September 2014.
The game industry has been in the spotlight for the past week, with several incidents of harassment and sexism making headlines.
- Kaplan, Sarah (September 12, 2014). "With #GamerGate, the video-game industry's growing pains go viral". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 14, 2014.
- "Exclusive: Woman who sparked Gamergate". Ronan Farrow Daily. 20 October 2014. MSNBC.com. Retrieved 27 November 2014.
- Lee, Dave (29 October 2014). "Zoe Quinn: GamerGate must be condemned". BBC News. Retrieved 27 November 2014.
- Sheelah Kolhatkar (26 November 2014). "The Gaming Industry's Greatest Adversary Is Just Getting Started". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved 26 November 2014.
- Mendoza, Jessica (20 January 2015). "Online harassment targets strike back against abusers. Will it work?". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
- Hudson, Laura (20 January 2015). "Gamergate Target Zoe Quinn Launches Anti-Harassment Support Network". Wired. Retrieved 22 January 2015.
- Takahashi, Dean (3 March 2015). "Zoe Quinn and other female game developers speak out against harassment". VentureBeat. Retrieved 5 March 2015.
- Weunberger, Matt (4 March 2015). "Zoe Quinn, Gamergate developer: How to protect yourself - Business Insider". Business Insider. Retrieved 5 March 2015.
- Needleman, Sarah E. (4 March 2015). "Game Developer: The Gaming Industry Is Not Doing Enough to Combat Misogyny". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 6 March 2015.
- Hernandez, Patricia (7 May 2014). "Woman puts Deus Ex on computer chip in her hand". Kotaku. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
- Klepek, Patrick (7 May 2014). "Zoe Quinn has embraced our cybernetic future". Giant Bomb. Retrieved 8 May 2014.
- Pepitone, Julianne (11 July 2014). "Cyborgs Among Us: Human 'Biohackers' Embed Chips In Their Bodies". NBC News. Retrieved 12 May 2015.
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