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Zoë Quinn

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Zoë Quinn
Zoe Quinn Car 2014.jpg
Quinn in 2014
Born1987 (age 31–32)
United States
Other namesZoë Tiberius Quinn
OccupationVideo game developer
Known forDepression Quest

Zoë Tiberius Quinn[1] (born 1987) is an American video game developer, programmer, writer, and artist. She developed the interactive fiction game Depression Quest, which was released in 2013. In 2014, a blog post by her ex-boyfriend sparked the Gamergate controversy, in which Quinn was subjected to extensive harassment.

Early life

Zoë Tiberius Quinn was born in 1987 and grew up in a small town near the Adirondack Mountains in New York.[2] Growing up, she often played video games. A favorite of hers 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, she suffered from depression and was diagnosed with the condition at the age of 14. She has described receiving little sympathy or assistance from school district officials and says they were "less than understanding about teens with depression and suicide issues".[3]


At the age of 24, Quinn moved to Canada and made her first foray 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, "I felt like I'd found my calling."[3]

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,[4] with many of the "correct" paths blocked due to the protagonists' 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 they might not experience in their day-to-day lives. Depression Quest was released in February 2013.[3][5]

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

Other projects

Quinn created the Game Developer Help List, designed to bring experienced game developers and novice developers into contact with one another.[8] In 2014, she was 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.[9]

In 2015, she served as a narrative design consultant[10] for Loveshack Entertainment's iOS game Framed.[11] As of 2014 she was also working on a full motion video game starring Greg Sestero.[12]

In 2015, Quinn wrote a chapter for Videogames for Humans, a book about games made using the Twine tool.[13] 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.[14] In 2015, she appeared in the documentary GTFO.[15] She also wrote a scenario for "Widow's Walk", an expansion for Betrayal at House on the Hill, released in 2016.[16]

Quinn is currently[when?] working with erotica author Chuck Tingle on a full motion dating sim under the working title "Project Tingler".[17] In January 2018, her role as Narrative Designer at Heart Machine[18] on a new, unannounced project was also announced.[19] In June 2018, it was announced that Quinn was working with Robbi Rodriguez on DC Vertigo's Goddess Mode.[20]

She has additionally worked on Fez[citation needed], Jazzpunk,[21] and They Bleed Pixels.[citation needed]

Harassment and Gamergate

In August 2014, Eron Gjoni, a former boyfriend of Quinn, 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 Quinn's work, and not while they were in a relationship.[22][23] These accusations sparked the Gamergate controversy. Quinn suffered a long period of harassment including doxing, rape threats, and death threats.[24] Harassment associated with Gamergate resulted in widespread recognition of sexism in gaming.[25][26]

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.[3] She 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 those attacking Quinn and other women in gaming needed "to just grow up".[27] Speaking with BBC News, Quinn said the harassment had consumed her life, leading her to feel as if "surrounded by nothing but hate — it's virulent, it's everywhere" and that she was "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 she 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?"[28] 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."[29]

In January 2015, Quinn co-founded Crash Override, a private network of experts to assist victims of online harassment[30][31] which in March 2015 joined forces with Randi Harper's Online Abuse Prevention Initiative.[32][33][34]

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

On September 24, 2015, she spoke at the United Nations along with Anita Sarkeesian about online harassment. In her speech, Quinn spoke about the need for technology companies to provide proper moderation and terms of service which protect marginalized groups. She also raised concerns about providing better protections for transgender women and victims of domestic violence on the Internet.[35]

In September 2017, she published the memoir Crash Override: How Gamergate (Nearly) Destroyed My Life, and How We Can Win the Fight Against Online Hate.[36] The book has received generally positive reviews, with critics praising Quinn's thoughtful, nuanced portrayal of her harassers, but lamenting the book's "scattered" narrative flow.[37][38] The book was nominated for the 2018 Hugo Award for Best Related Work (i.e., non-fiction work related to science fiction or fantasy).[39]

Personal life

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.[40] She also has a magnetic implant in her left ring finger.[40][41]


  • Quinn, Zoe (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, Zoë [@UnburntWitch] (March 25, 2015). "Y'all thought i was playin about my middle name" (Tweet). Retrieved August 18, 2016 – via Twitter.
  2. ^ Jason, Zachary (April 28, 2015). "Game of Fear". Boston Magazine. Retrieved May 14, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d Parkin, Simon (September 9, 2014). "Zoe Quinn's Depression Quest". The New Yorker. Retrieved September 15, 2014.
  4. ^ "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.
  5. ^ "'Depression Quest' Now Available on Steam". Game Politics. August 13, 2014. Archived from the original on May 28, 2016. Retrieved August 23, 2014.
  6. ^ "Depression Quest Now Available on Steam for Free". AusGamers. Retrieved August 18, 2014.
  7. ^ Rougeau, Mike (November 25, 2014). "Resistance is Futile: The New Wave of Video Games about Depression". Retrieved November 27, 2014.
  8. ^ Wawro, Alex (December 18, 2013). "Game Developer Help List rallies industry vets to aid rookie devs". Gamasutra. Retrieved September 17, 2014.
  9. ^ Matulef, Jeffrey (April 1, 2014). "Game jam reality show cancelled as indies wouldn't put up with its s***". Eurogamer. Retrieved September 17, 2014.
  10. ^ "Framed Press Kit". Loveshack Entertainment. Retrieved August 3, 2015.
  11. ^ Griffiths, Daniel Nye (April 30, 2014). "Quest Love – 'Depression Quest' Creator Zoe Quinn Joins Hot Indie 'Framed'". Retrieved September 17, 2014.
  12. ^ Donaldson, Ricky (April 18, 2014). "Zoe Quinn's Follow Up To Depression Quest is a FMV Game". Retrieved September 17, 2014.
  13. ^ Joseph, Daniel (May 4, 2015). "What's a Twine Game? Let 'Videogames for Humans' Show You". Motherboard. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  14. ^ Tremblay, Kaitlin (August 20, 2015). "Review: What Is The State of Play in Video Games Right Now?". The Mary Sue. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  15. ^ Ito, Robert (March 6, 2015). "In the Documentary 'GTFO,' Female Video Gamers Fight Back". The New York Times. Retrieved March 9, 2015.
  16. ^ Hall, Charlie (October 18, 2016). "Betrayal at House on the Hill expansion is here in time for Halloween". Retrieved November 4, 2016.
  17. ^ Warr, Phillippa (September 1, 2016). "Zoe Quinn's FMV Chuck Tingle Dating Sim". Retrieved November 4, 2016.
  18. ^ "Heart Machine | The Heart Machine Team". Retrieved April 5, 2018.
  19. ^ 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.
  20. ^ Hudson, Laura (June 7, 2018). "Vertigo Comics to relaunch with seven new titles, including one by Zoe Quinn". The Verge. Retrieved September 9, 2018.
  21. ^ Jazzpunk Credits. Giant Bomb.
  22. ^ Stuart, Bob (October 24, 2014). "#GamerGate: the misogynist movement blighting the video games industry". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
  23. ^ Parkin, Simon (October 17, 2014). "Gamergate: A Scandal Erupts in the Video-Game Community". The New Yorker. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
  24. ^ 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.
  25. ^ 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.
  26. ^ Kaplan, Sarah (September 12, 2014). "With #GamerGate, the video-game industry's growing pains go viral". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 14, 2014.
  27. ^ "Exclusive: Woman who sparked Gamergate". Ronan Farrow Daily. October 20, 2014. Retrieved November 27, 2014.
  28. ^ Lee, Dave (October 29, 2014). "Zoe Quinn: GamerGate must be condemned". BBC News. Retrieved November 27, 2014.
  29. ^ Kolhatkar, Sheelah (November 26, 2014). "The Gaming Industry's Greatest Adversary Is Just Getting Started". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved November 26, 2014.
  30. ^ Mendoza, Jessica (January 20, 2015). "Online harassment targets strike back against abusers. Will it work?". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved January 21, 2015.
  31. ^ Hudson, Laura (January 20, 2015). "Gamergate Target Zoe Quinn Launches Anti-Harassment Support Network". Wired. Retrieved January 22, 2015.
  32. ^ Takahashi, Dean (March 3, 2015). "Zoe Quinn and other female game developers speak out against harassment". VentureBeat. Retrieved March 5, 2015.
  33. ^ Weunberger, Matt (March 4, 2015). "Zoe Quinn, Gamergate developer: How to protect yourself". Business Insider. Retrieved March 5, 2015.
  34. ^ 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.
  35. ^ "Launch of the Broadband Working Group on Gender Report". United Nations Web TV.
  36. ^ Campbell, Colin (September 6, 2017). "Zoë Quinn tells her story". Polygon. Retrieved September 15, 2017.
  37. ^ "Rev. of Crash Override by Zoë Quinn". Kirkus Reviews. June 5, 2017.
  38. ^ Peterson, Latoya. "In 'Crash Override,' Zoe Quinn Shares Her Boss Battle Against Online Harassment". Retrieved September 15, 2017.
  39. ^ "2018 Hugo Award Finalists Announced" 3-31-2018
  40. ^ a b Hernandez, Patricia (May 7, 2014). "Woman puts Deus Ex on computer chip in her hand". Kotaku. Retrieved September 17, 2014.
  41. ^ Pepitone, Julianne (July 11, 2014). "Cyborgs Among Us: Human 'Biohackers' Embed Chips In Their Bodies". NBC News. Retrieved May 12, 2015.

Further reading

External links