Zoe Quinn Scandal
- 1 About
- 2 Background
- 3 Notable Developments
- 3.1 Online Reaction
- 3.2 Wizardchan Counterclaim
- 3.3 Phil Fish’s Twitter Rant
- 3.4 Quinnspiracy Theory and "Five Guys Burger and Fries"
- 3.5 Hacking & Doxing Claims
- 3.6 Rebel Game Jam & The Fine Young Capitalists Doxxing
- 3.7 Pepsi GAME_JAM
- 3.8 GamesNosh Article
- 3.9 N4G Article
- 3.10 Total Biscuit’s Response
- 3.11 Kotaku’s Response
- 3.12 Censorship Controversy
- 3.13 Zoe Quinn’s Response
- 3.14 Conflicts of Interest and Journalistic Integrity
- 4 References
The Zoe Quinn Scandal revolves around online controversy surrounding indie game developer Zoe Quinn's alleged affair with a number of men working in the video game industry, including a writer at the Gawker-affiliated video game news site Kotaku and the Eurogamer affiliate RockPaperShotgun, supposedly in exchange for publicity for her and her 2014 text-based indie game Depression Quest. In August 2014, the scandal came into public's light when Eron Gjoni, her now-former boyfriend, chronicled the details of her behavior over the course of their relationship in an expose blog post known as thezoepost, which prompted online discussions regarding the validity of Gjoni's claim and ethics in video game journalism at large. Due to the scandal's online amplification in reaction to perceived media suppression, the event has been cited as an example of the "Streisand Effect".
On December 4, 2013, Quinn submitted her game Depression Quest to Steam Greenlight in order for it to receive a Steam release. On December 12, Quinn (@TheQuinnspiracy) posted several tweets complaining about harassment she had allegedly received for placing the game on Greenlight, specifically from the *chan board Wizardchan. On August 11, 2014 the game was officially released on Steam.
On August 16, Quinn’s ex boyfriend Eron Gjoni launched a Wordpress blog titled "The Zoe Post", featuring screenshots and pictures providing evidence that Quinn cheated on him with five different men, including her employer Joshua Boggs and video game journalist Nathan Grayson, who is affiliated with Kotaku and Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Gjoni later released a video proving his chat-logs were authentic.
On August 17, redditor MannoSlimmins submitted a series of screenshots providing evidence that Quinn faked being harassed by Wizardchan users to garner support for her game to the /r/TumblrInAction subreddit. The same day, Tumblr user KC-Vidya-Rants published a blog post denouncing Quinn for using Robin Williams’ suicide to promote her game and faking harassment for sympathy. In the first 48 hours after its publication, the post gained over 940 notes. Meanwhile, Escapist Magazine Forums member Rebant submitted a thread about the scandal, which criticized Quinn’s behavior and video game blogs for ignoring the story. Later, on August 20, YouTuber JonTron made multiple tweets about Zoe which garnered attention on Twitter.
On April 11, 2014, prior to the release of Quinn’s game, Wizardchan, the site Quinn said she had allegedly received harassment from for placing the game on Greenlight in December 2013, counterclaimed that they did not doxx her in a series of images that conveys their side of the story with a chronological breakdown and an explanation on why they didn’t target her.
Phil Fish’s Twitter Rant
On August 17, indie game developer Phil Fish defended Quinn on Twitter, calling those who were attacking her "cowards" and claimed he was "canceling projects" in retaliation (shown below).
Fish at one point went so far as to compare the people who were attacking Quinn to rapists. However, he deleted this tweet moments after posting it.
Quinnspiracy Theory and "Five Guys Burger and Fries"
On August 18, YouTuber InternetAristocrat uploaded a video titled "Quinnspiracy Theory: The Five Guys Saga", which criticized Quinn for using sex to influence journalists and for portraying herself as a victim in order to receive donations and support (shown below). The name spawns from the fact that Quinn allegedly slept with five different men who had positions in the video game or video game journalism industries. The following day, the video was submitted to the /r/videos subreddit, where it gained over 2,200 votes (87% upvoted) and 460 comments.
In homage to this video, 4chan's /v/ (video games) board began using references to the Five Guys chain restaurant as a way to make threads about Quinn without it catching the attention of moderators. On August 22, Internet Aristocrat published a follow-up video attempting to expose further speculation about Quinn using her relationships in the video game industry for personal gain (shown below). On August 30, Internet Aristocrat concluded the Quinnspiracy saga, citing respect for Jeff "Dorito Pope" Keely for not being involved. The original videos are deleted, but a combination of all three videos was mirrored to another channel:
Hacking & Doxing Claims
On August 19, Quinn claimed that her Tumblr and Twitter page were both hacked and that she had been doxxed by users from /v/. The post was subsequently deleted. That day, Tumblr user The Spectacular Spider-Girl pointed out several inconsistencies in the story, indicating that Quinn fabricated the incident.
In addition, the phone numbers included in the Tumblr dox post were found to have no connection with Zoe. The number listed as "Dad’s Work" is no longer functional and was associated with a closed down motorcycle store. The number that was listed as "zoe’s Cellphone" connected to a text to land line phone located in Hawaii.
Rebel Game Jam & The Fine Young Capitalists Doxxing
During the immediate fallout of Eron Gjoni’s blog posts, a Reddit user by the name of SillySladar raised allegations that Zoe Quinn intentionally sabotaged a female-centric game development event on the grounds that the idea was oppressive, in order to promote her own similar event, Rebel Game Jam, which is currently being organized.
On August 19, The Fine Young Capitalists released a SoundCloud recording as their explanation as what to what was going on and why they were doxxed. On August 20, the founder of The Fine Young Capitalists conducted an interview with Invision Game Community about the whole ordeal. The following day, YouTuber PressFartToContinue uploaded a video with the project’s founder explaining the story behind how Quinn led a crusade against The Fine Young Capitalists game jam (shown below).
Around the end of March 2014, Pepsi was arranged to sponsor a televised ‘Game Jam’ that would feature game developers working in teams to create games. Zoe Quinn was one of the selected participants of this game jam. On the same day it began however, the game jam was halted due to disagreements about it’s terms. Some time after the failure of Pepsi’s game jam, Quinn wrote a blog post vaguely detailing the events surrounding the game jam’s failure, essentially indicting herself as the catalyst for the debacle. On August 25, Eron Gjoni, Quinn’s ex, shared his view on her role in these events in a Reddit AMA (shown below).
On August 19, the video game news blog Games Nosh published an article accusing Quinn of "exploiting games press for coverage." Hours later, the @GamesNosh Twitter feed announced that their host had asked them to remove the article (shown below). That day, the page was removed and redirected to a HostGator 404 page. The article was subsequently mirrored on Pastebin.
On August 19, the video game rumor site N4G published an article that Quinn "was being accused of exploiting games press for coverage." Hours later, the article was removed. N4G has not made a public statement concerning the article's removal.
Total Biscuit’s Response
Also on August 19, British video game critic and YouTuber TotalBiscuit published a blog post which denounced Quinn for allegedly abusing the DMCA to take down criticism of her product and lamented the cronyism present in the gaming journalism industry. The post was subsequently submitted to /r/gaming, where over 25,000 comments were mass-deleted by a subreddit moderator. A screenshot of a Twitter conversation between /r/gaming senior moderator @ElChupacupcake and Quinn began circulating, with many speculating about his involvement in the deletions (shown below). Gamesnosh later wrote an article about the situation, detailing the hate Total Biscuit received. On August 21, MundaneMatt confirmed that the DMCA takedown notice had in fact come from Zoe Quinn.
On August 28, Total Biscuit released a lengthier second response on his blog and subsequently as a SoundCloud recording. In his response he expressed the perspective of the average "gamer" through the unfolding of this whole ordeal, and critiqued the style of discourse taken by both ‘sides’ of the debate.
On August 20, Kotaku writer Stephen Totilo released an article on Kotaku related to the questions surrounding their writer Nathan Grayson, one of the five men Zoe Quinn allegedly had romantic relationships with. In the article, Totilo stated that Kotaku’s leadership team found no compelling evidence that any of the claims surrounding the suspected cronyism between Grayson and Quinn were true. Totila also stated that Grayson had only written an article that involved Zoe Quinn when they were still professional acquaintances, and that their romantic relationship didn’t start until after that in early April of the same year, which provided evidence related to Eron Gjoni’s claims regarding Quinn’s romantic affair with Grayson around that time.
As investigations into journalistic integrity continued over the days after the article was posted continued, Kotaku decided to make a second statement surrounding the events, this time banning any journalists affiliated with them from contributing to the Patreon accounts of video game developers.
Soon after the release of thezoepost,  several online social media sites began deleting discussion threads surrounding the topic in attempts to prevent a "witch hunt". Sites involved in such activities included N4G, The Escapist, NeoGAF, Reddit’s /r/games /r/gaming, Steam’s Depression Quest Forums (shown below), and 4chan’s /v/ board. Several of the blogs reporting on the Quinnspiracy issue (including Kotaku and Vice) also took part in heavily moderating and/or blocking comments on their posts.
On August 23, an imgur album was published detailing reddit’s automated banning of any users who had simultaneously visited 4chan, and participated in discussion threads. Around the same time, a Reddit moderator leaked a private message he’d received from Zoe Quinn, in which she requested the deletion of posts about the incident (shown below). Soon after the leak, Reddit's administrators took it upon themselves to remove the suspected leaker’s moderator status. This resulted in a large backlash from users against Reddit’s mods and admins. On September 7, a SoundCloud interview with the banned /r/games moderator was published, detailing many of reddit’s internal moderation practices.
Zoe Quinn’s Response
On August 19, Quinn published a post on her Tumblr blog about the scandal, claiming it was about her private life, complaining that members of 4chan had doxxed her and thanking moderators for removing posts about her across the web.
This has nothing to do with games and is not a matter of legitimate public interest, but is simply a personal matter. I would hope and request that the games press be respectful of what IS a personal matter, and not news, and not about games. This is explicitly about my private life, which has been regrettably forced into the public and framed by people who pose a threat to my safety and well being as well as that of the people I love. I would hope that the effort people have gone through to dress it up as anything more would not be enough to have those who see it for what it is take the bait.
Conflicts of Interest and Journalistic Integrity
As Quinn's intimate ties to journalists were being revealed, it was discovered that several games journalists were actively contributing money to her via Patreon. Journalist Patricia Hernandez soon came under fire as well, as gamers began investigating other questionable journalist-developer relationships.
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