If you’ve been on Twitter or Reddit’s r/gaming board today, you’ve probably seen a lot of anger, confusion, and name-calling over a game developer named Zoe Quinn. As with most of these social media-fueled controversies, it becomes hard to tell where the opinions end and the actual story begins. So in an attempt to clarify an increasingly muddled issue, here are just the facts on what’s been going on over the past couple of days.
Who is Zoe Quinn?
Zoe Quinn is an indie game developer, artist, and programmer. She is the creator of Depression Quest, the first Twine game released on Steam. During the process of attempting to get Depression Quest through Steam’s Greenlight program, she became the target of harassment, both online and through phone calls.
She is currently employed by Loveshack Entertainment as a Narrative Designer, working on the iOS game FRAMED.
The controversy began with a Wordpress blog called “thezoepost.” It was created by Zoe Quinn’s ex-boyfriend, a man named Eron Gjoni, and went online following their break-up on August 16.
On it, Gjoni lists reasons why he and Quinn split up; namely that during their relationship, she allegedly cheated on him with multiple people, and subsequently lied about it. Gjoni provides chat logs and screenshots as evidence for his claims.
While this would appear to be a personal issue between Quinn and her ex-boyfriend, the controversy itself stems from the specific people Gjoni names as Quinn’s sexual partners during her alleged infidelity.
He names three out of the five individuals, while further research by the community at large has purportedly revealed the other two. They are indie game developers Brandon McCartin, Kyle Pulver, Robin Arnott, and Joshua Boggs (who is currently her employer); and Nathan Grayson, a games journalist who has contributed to Kotaku and Rock Paper Shotgun.
Grayson has been the subject of the brunt of the criticism. Many are accusing Grayson of comprising his journalistic integrity by writing about Zoe Quinn’s game, Depression Quest, without acknowledging that he was sleeping with her at the time. Articles mentioning Depression Quest or quoting Zoe Quinn as a developer have appeared on both Kotaku and RPS.
Kotaku editor-in-chief Stephen Totilo has since come out in defense of Grayson. Totilo stated on Twitter that Grayson has assured him that the relationship had not yet begun when the Kotaku article in question was published. Totilo concludes that, “Nathan has my trust, and I believe he deserves yours as well.”
RPS has not officially commented on the situation, but editors including John Walker have personally shot down the allegations as well.
TotalBiscuit and YouTube Censorship
In the hours that followed the controversy, a few YouTubers began to weigh in on the issue. A YouTubers named MundaneMatt posted a video titled “Hell hath no fury like a lover’s scorn,” wherein he discussed Quinn and the alleged journalistic conflict of interests. He soon found that his video was pulled for a copyright claim by Zoe Quinn, or someone claiming to be Zoe Quinn, for infringing on her intellectual property.
The IP in question was a still image from Depression Quest, which was used as the background for the video. The image can also be found on the game’s Steam listing page, and is freely available to view on a number of other sources online. You can watch a re-upload of the video here, the Depression Quest screenshot has been replaced with a skull.
Many believe that this was an abusive use of YouTube’s copyright claims system, and that the inclusion of the image falls under the definitions of “Fair Use.”
Prominent YouTube personality TotalBiscuit has since commented on the issue in an extended Twitter post. In it, he states that using DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) claims to have videos criticizing you taken down is unethical, if not out-right illegal.
He also brings up the possibility that the one who issued the claim wasn’t Quinn at all, and was instead someone impersonating her, something he believes is possible due to how YouTube’s copyright claims system works.
In the past few days, a number of Reddit boards have become focal points for discussion and discourse regarding the Zoe Quinn situation. However, earlier this morning, things became heated when Quinn was “doxxed” by members of r/Gaming.
Doxxing refers to the practice of finding and releasing personal identifying information about an individual over the web, such as email/physical addresses and phone numbers.
A subreddit moderator going by the handle el_chupacupcake officially addressed the incident in a post earlier today. He explains that personal information regarding Quinn has been deleted, as is standard practice in one of these situations.
However, some Reddit users are accusing the mods, across multiple subreddits, of also removing posts that are simply being critical of Quinn. Because these posts have been deleted though, it is difficult to ascertain whether or not they were abusive or in violation of Reddit’s TOS.
Rebel Game Jam and “Doxxing”
During the immediate fallout of Eron Gjorni’s blog posts, a Reddit user going by the name of SillySladar has raised allegations that Zoe Quinn intentionally sabotaged a female-centric game development event in order to promote her own similar event (Rebel Jam, which is currently being organized).
Quinn has not yet commented on this specific allegation.
Twitter and Tumblr Hack
Earlier today, Quinn claimed that her Tumblr and Twitter page were doxxed and hacked by members of 4chan’s /v/ board.
A Tumblr user named The Spectacular Spider-Girl expressed some reservations about this claim, pointing out a number of alleged inconsistencies in Quinn’s story. This is not the first time that someone has accused Quinn of manufacturing harassment. A Reddit user has previously claimed that Quinn manipulated facts regarding her harassment by members of the Wizardchan forum to promote her then-in-development game, Depression Quest.
Quinn’s post regarding the hack/doxx has since been deleted.
We will update this post if the story continues to develop.