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Zoë Quinn

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Zoë Quinn
Zoë Quinn (2015) (cropped).jpg
Quinn at the 2015 XOXO Festival
Born1987 (age 34–35)
United States
Other namesZoë Tiberius Quinn
OccupationVideo game developer
Known forDepression Quest

Zoë Tiberius Quinn (born 1987) is an American video game developer, programmer, and writer. Quinn developed the interactive fiction game Depression Quest, which was released in 2013. In 2014, a blog post by their[a] ex-boyfriend sparked the online harassment campaign known as Gamergate, during which Quinn was subjected to extensive harassment including doxing, rape threats, and death threats. The following year, Quinn co-founded Crash Override, a crisis hotline and resource center for victims of online harassment.

Early life

Zoë Tiberius Quinn[2] was born in 1987 and was raised in a small town near the Adirondack Mountains in New York.[3] Growing up, Quinn's favorite video game 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. Quinn suffered from depression as a teenager, having been diagnosed with the condition at age 14. They described receiving little sympathy or assistance from school district officials who were "less than understanding about teens with depression and suicide issues".[4]


At the age of 24, Quinn moved to Canada and made their first foray into video game programming. Quinn's first game was the result of a six-week course on video game creation that they attended after seeing an advertisement in a newspaper. In a later interview for The New Yorker, Quinn said, "I felt like I'd found my calling."[4]

Depression Quest

One of Quinn's earliest creative works, Depression Quest, was conceived as a "choose-your-own path" adventure detailing the troubled life of a person suffering from depression,[5] with many of the "correct" paths blocked due to the protagonist's struggle with mental self-care. Quinn thought this sort of game narrative would be a good way to depict depression, imposing a set of rules on players that might not experience such problems in their day-to-day lives. Depression Quest was released in February 2013.[4][6]

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.[7] Depression Quest was featured in a Playboy article as one of several video games dealing with the subjective experience of depression.[8]

Other projects

Quinn created the Game Developer Help List, designed to bring experienced game developers and novice developers into contact with one another.[9] In 2014, Quinn intended to be part of the canceled YouTube reality television show codenamed "Game_Jam", which was meant to bring together a number of prominent indie game developers.[10]

In 2015, Quinn served as a narrative design consultant[11] for Loveshack Entertainment's iOS game Framed.[12] As of 2014, Quinn was also working on a full motion video game starring Greg Sestero.[13]

In 2015, Quinn wrote a chapter for Videogames for Humans, a book about games made using the Twine tool.[14] Quinn also contributed a chapter to the book The State of Play: Sixteen Voices on Video Games, detailing their experiences making Depression Quest and the subsequent harassment they faced.[15] In 2015, Quinn appeared in the documentary GTFO.[16] They also wrote a scenario for "Widow's Walk", an expansion for Betrayal at House on the Hill, released in 2016.[17]

In September 2016, Quinn was reported to be working with erotica author Chuck Tingle on a full motion dating sim under the working title "Project Tingler".[18] The game was finally named "Kickstarted in the Butt: A Chuck Tingle Digital Adventure" and a Kickstarter campaign was started in October 2016 asking for $69,420 to fund the project. The game raised over $85,000 from 2,450 backers weeks later.[19] In January 2018, Quinn's role as Narrative Designer at Heart Machine's upcoming game Solar Ash Kingdom[20] was also announced.[21]

In June 2018, Quinn's career as a comics writer started with the announcement of their work with illustrator Robbi Rodriguez on DC Vertigo's Goddess Mode,[22] which became one of the last comics released under the Vertigo label.[23] In July 2019, their participation in the upcoming issues of IDW Publishing's The Addams Family: The Bodies Issue and Marvel's Fearless was announced.[24][25]

Quinn has additionally worked on Fez,[26] Jazzpunk,[27] and They Bleed Pixels.[28]

Quinn is interested in human enhancement and has implanted an NTAG216 NFC chip in the back of their hand that can be programmed to perform various functions. Their first use of the chip was to load it with the download code for the game Deus Ex.[29] Quinn also has a magnetic implant in their left ring finger.[29][30]

Harassment and Gamergate

Quinn has faced harassment in response to Depression Quest since the game's initial release. This intensified with the additional publicity the game received on Steam.[31] Quinn initially withdrew the game from Steam's Greenlight service, after having a detailed rape threat mailed to their home address. When they brought Depression Quest back to Greenlight, Quinn began receiving threatening phone calls.[32]

In August 2014, Eron Gjoni, a former boyfriend of Quinn, posted a lengthy blog post detailing his relationship with them. Based on the contents of the post, Quinn was falsely accused of receiving positive coverage from a journalist with whom they were in a relationship. (It was later shown that the journalist, Nathan Grayson, had only written about Quinn once, before they started a relationship.)[33][34] These accusations sparked the harassment campaign known as Gamergate. Quinn suffered extensive harassment including doxing, rape threats, and death threats.[35] Media coverage of Gamergate resulted in widespread recognition of sexism in gaming.[36][37]

According to The New Yorker, the harassment escalated to the point where Quinn left their home and began working with the authorities to identify those responsible for the harassment.[4] Quinn detailed the 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 Quinn and women in gaming needed "to just grow up".[38] Speaking with BBC News, Quinn said the harassment had consumed their life, leading them to feel as if "surrounded by nothing but hate – it's virulent, it's everywhere" and that they were "just trying to survive". The attacks 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 Quinn also pointed out that 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?"[39] Quinn said that their 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."[40]

In January 2015, Quinn co-founded Crash Override, a private network of experts to assist victims of online harassment[41][42] which in March 2015 joined forces with Randi Harper's Online Abuse Prevention Initiative.[43][44][45]

Quinn (second from the left) speaking at the Game Developers Conference in March 2016

On September 24, 2015, Quinn spoke at the United Nations along with Anita Sarkeesian about online harassment. In their speech, Quinn spoke about the need for technology companies to provide proper moderation and terms of service which protect marginalized groups. Quinn also raised concerns about providing better protections for transgender women and victims of domestic violence on the Internet.[46] Quinn identified as non-cisgender in January 2017,[47] and their preferred pronouns are they/them.[1]

In September 2017, Quinn published the memoir Crash Override: How Gamergate (Nearly) Destroyed My Life, and How We Can Win the Fight Against Online Hate.[48] The book has received generally positive reviews, with critics praising what they described as Quinn's thoughtful, nuanced portrayal of Quinn's harassers, but lamenting the book's "scattered" narrative flow.[49][50] The book was nominated for the 2018 Hugo Award for Best Related Work (i.e., non-fiction work related to science fiction or fantasy).[51]


  • Quinn, Zoë (2017). Crash Override: How Gamergate (Nearly) Destroyed My Life, and How We Can Win the Fight Against Online Hate. New York City, NY: PublicAffairs. ISBN 978-1610398084.


  1. ^ Quinn uses they/them pronouns.[1]


  1. ^ a b Prokos, Hayley (August 27, 2019). "Zoë Quinn accuses 'Night in the Woods' game developer and ex-partner Alec Holowka of harassment and abuse". Newsweek. Retrieved August 17, 2021.
  2. ^ Smith, Iman (October 30, 2016). "Even In A Virtual World, The Harsh Reality Of Sexual Harassment Persists". NPR.
  3. ^ Jason, Zachary (April 28, 2015). "Game of Fear". Boston Magazine. Retrieved May 14, 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d Parkin, Simon (September 9, 2014). "Zoe Quinn's Depression Quest". The New Yorker. Retrieved September 15, 2014.
  5. ^ "Why the co-creator of Depression Quest is fighting back against Internet trolls". Edge. January 23, 2014. Archived from the original on October 28, 2014. Retrieved May 30, 2014.
  6. ^ "'Depression Quest' Now Available on Steam". Game Politics. August 13, 2014. Archived from the original on May 28, 2016. Retrieved August 23, 2014.
  7. ^ "Depression Quest Now Available on Steam for Free". AusGamers. Retrieved August 18, 2014.
  8. ^ Rougeau, Mike (November 25, 2014). "Resistance is Futile: The New Wave of Video Games about Depression". Playboy. Retrieved November 27, 2014.
  9. ^ Wawro, Alex (December 18, 2013). "Game Developer Help List rallies industry vets to aid rookie devs". Gamasutra. Retrieved September 17, 2014.
  10. ^ Matulef, Jeffrey (April 1, 2014). "Game jam reality show cancelled as indies wouldn't put up with its s***". Eurogamer. Retrieved September 17, 2014.
  11. ^ "Framed Press Kit". Loveshack Entertainment. Retrieved August 3, 2015.
  12. ^ Mckeand, Kirk (January 28, 2015) "How Loveshack found a new order with iOS hit Framed", Pocket Retrieved April 16, 2020.
  13. ^ Donaldson, Ricky (April 18, 2014). "Zoe Quinn's Follow Up To Depression Quest is a FMV Game". Retrieved September 17, 2014.
  14. ^ Joseph, Daniel (May 4, 2015). "What's a Twine Game? Let 'Videogames for Humans' Show You". Motherboard. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  15. ^ Tremblay, Kaitlin (August 20, 2015). "Review: What Is The State of Play in Video Games Right Now?". The Mary Sue. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  16. ^ Ito, Robert (March 6, 2015). "In the Documentary 'GTFO,' Female Video Gamers Fight Back". The New York Times. Retrieved March 9, 2015.
  17. ^ Hall, Charlie (October 18, 2016). "Betrayal at House on the Hill expansion is here in time for Halloween". Retrieved November 4, 2016.
  18. ^ Warr, Phillippa (September 1, 2016). "Zoe Quinn's FMV Chuck Tingle Dating Sim". Rock Paper Shotgun. Retrieved November 4, 2016.
  19. ^ Andriessen, CJ (September 3, 2017). "This trailer for the Chuck Tingle game is going to pound you in the butt". Destructoid (published September 3, 2017).
  20. ^ Tarason, Dominic (March 13, 2019). "Solar Ash Kingdom announced by Hyper Light Drifter devs". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved April 14, 2019. One thing that did get my attention was mention on Twitter that Zoë Quinn has been working on Solar Ash Kingdom as a narrative designer for the past couple years.
  21. ^ AlxPreston [@HeartMachineZ] (January 8, 2018). "It's the start of a new year, so it's the perfect time to update our team page. Here's who's involved (so far) in our next project: [...]" (Tweet). Retrieved April 5, 2018 – via Twitter.
  22. ^ Hudson, Laura (June 7, 2018). "Vertigo Comics to relaunch with seven new titles, including one by Zoe Quinn". The Verge. Retrieved September 9, 2018.
  23. ^ Magnett, Chase (June 20, 2019). "The Death of Vertigo Comics". Retrieved August 2, 2019.
  24. ^ Arrant, Chris (July 18, 2019). "ADDAMS FAMILY Returning to Comic Books This October". Newsarama. Retrieved August 2, 2019.
  25. ^ Frevele, Jamie (July 25, 2019). "'Fearless' Sneak Peek: Zoe Quinn, Trina Robbins, and Tini Howard Join the Creative Team for Issues #3 and #4". Marvel. Marvel Entertainment. Retrieved August 2, 2019.
  26. ^ Phil Fish (2012). Fez. Polytron Corporation. Scene: Credits.
  27. ^ Jazzpunk Credits. Giant Bomb.
  28. ^ They Bleed Pixels Credits. Giant Bomb.
  29. ^ a b Hernandez, Patricia (May 7, 2014). "Woman puts Deus Ex on computer chip in her hand". Kotaku. Retrieved September 17, 2014.
  30. ^ Pepitone, Julianne (July 11, 2014). "Cyborgs Among Us: Human 'Biohackers' Embed Chips In Their Bodies". NBC News. Retrieved May 12, 2015.
  31. ^ Parkin, Simon (September 9, 2014). "Zoe Quinn's Depression Quest". The New Yorker. Retrieved September 15, 2014.
  32. ^ Kotzer, Zach (January 23, 2014). "Female Game Designers Are Being Threatened With Rape". Vice. Retrieved August 27, 2014.
  33. ^ Stuart, Bob (October 24, 2014). "#GamerGate: the misogynist movement blighting the video games industry". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
  34. ^ Parkin, Simon (October 17, 2014). "Gamergate: A Scandal Erupts in the Video-Game Community". The New Yorker. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
  35. ^ Heron, Michael James; Belford, Pauline; Goker, Ayse (2014). "Sexism in the circuitry: female participation in male-dominated popular computer culture". ACM SIGCAS Computers and Society. Association for Computing Machinery. 44 (4): 18–29. doi:10.1145/2695577.2695582. ISSN 0095-2737. S2CID 18004724.
  36. ^ Levy, Karyne (September 2, 2014). "Game Developers Are Finally Stepping Up To Change Their Hate-Filled Industry". Business Insider. Retrieved September 7, 2014. The game industry has been in the spotlight for the past week, with several incidents of harassment and sexism making headlines.
  37. ^ Kaplan, Sarah (September 12, 2014). "With #GamerGate, the video-game industry's growing pains go viral". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 14, 2014.
  38. ^ "Exclusive: Woman who sparked Gamergate". Ronan Farrow Daily. October 20, 2014. Retrieved November 27, 2014.
  39. ^ Lee, Dave (October 29, 2014). "Zoe Quinn: GamerGate must be condemned". BBC News. Retrieved November 27, 2014.
  40. ^ Kolhatkar, Sheelah (November 26, 2014). "The Gaming Industry's Greatest Adversary Is Just Getting Started". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved November 26, 2014.
  41. ^ Mendoza, Jessica (January 20, 2015). "Online harassment targets strike back against abusers. Will it work?". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved January 21, 2015.
  42. ^ Hudson, Laura (January 20, 2015). "Gamergate Target Zoe Quinn Launches Anti-Harassment Support Network". Wired. Retrieved January 22, 2015.
  43. ^ Takahashi, Dean (March 3, 2015). "Zoe Quinn and other female game developers speak out against harassment". VentureBeat. Retrieved March 5, 2015.
  44. ^ Weunberger, Matt (March 4, 2015). "Zoe Quinn, Gamergate developer: How to protect yourself". Business Insider. Retrieved March 5, 2015.
  45. ^ Needleman, Sarah E. (March 4, 2015). "Game Developer: The Gaming Industry Is Not Doing Enough to Combat Misogyny". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved March 6, 2015.
  46. ^ "Launch of the Broadband Working Group on Gender Report". United Nations Web TV.
  47. ^ Hibbard, Lee (January 16, 2019). "What Feminism Looks Like: Gender, Coming Out, and Gamer Culture". NYMG. Retrieved August 5, 2019.
  48. ^ Campbell, Colin (September 6, 2017). "Zoë Quinn tells her story". Polygon. Retrieved September 15, 2017.
  49. ^ "Rev. of Crash Override by Zoë Quinn". Kirkus Reviews. June 5, 2017. [Their] story, which mingles details[...]Not without flaws but an informative and inspiring book.
  50. ^ Peterson, Latoya. "In 'Crash Override,' Zoe Quinn Shares Her Boss Battle Against Online Harassment". National Public Radio. Retrieved September 15, 2017. Quinn uses GamerGate as a lens to explore[...] But after charting [their] own youthful journey through the darker corners of the internet, Quinn ultimately emphasizes compassion: [...] It's an interesting take, given that some mistakes have long-term consequences for all involved.[...] I wish [they] had elaborated on this a bit more. [...]But the overwhelming message of Crash Override resonates across industries and experiences:[...]
  51. ^ "2018 Hugo Award Finalists Announced" 3-31-2018

Further reading

External links