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    The Anti-Feminist Internet Targets 'Depression Quest' Game Creator Zoe Quinn

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    Fruzsina Eördögh

    Contributor

    Hordes of angry gamers attacking a woman on the Internet, just like any other day in cyberspace, yeah? This week's target of the largely anonymous hivemind (re: 4chan, reddit, gaming forums) is indie game developer Zoe Quinn, who recently released the interactive fiction novel and educational aid Depression Quest

    It's an unusual entry for the gaming genre, but its out-of-the-box thinking is not what pissed off these predominantly male communities—they claim to be mad about an alleged sex scandal wrapped in what they see as a lapse in ethics. It is neither.

    Like most harassment campaigns against women originating from these communities, this one was started by her ex-boyfriend with the intent to shame and punish. More specifically: his multiple blog posts on their failed relationship where he accuses Quinn of sleeping with various prominent figures in the video game industry, including a writer at Kotaku. 

    Related: Why Fark's Misogyny Ban Will Facilitate Free Speech

    It is here that the harassment campaign—which includes sharing her personal information, defamatory YouTube videos, and weird phone calls to her parents—tries to bill itself as justified: exposing corruption in video game journalism. Gamers have been complaining about corruption in video game journalism for years now (googling "video game journalism corruption" yields 870,000 results, to give you an idea) and the Quinn/ Kotaku writer connection was seen as more proof of just how bad video game journalism has gotten. 

    Except, the Kotaku writer in question never actually wrote said favorable review about Quinn's game.

    A pertinent comment from a user on the gaming forum Escapist:

    Literally the only thing relevant in any of that is that she had sex with the reviewer, and that's only relevant if she did so before the review came out. And, even then, I can't even find his supposed review of the game. I've found him pointing out the game existed in a news article, but nothing close to an actual review. So, unless someone can link me his actual review of the game (where I expect to see corruption levels of praise), what we have here is a bunch of people pretending that games media not reporting on a woman's adultery is evidence of some feminist conspiracy.

    Yes, the angry digital horde has taken to calling the lack of news coverage over Quinn’s involvement in the degradation of the video game journalism industry a "feminist conspiracy." Can you even believe it?

    To make matters even more ridiculous, a digital mob has taken to accusing Quinn, not ironically, of creating "a negative image for all current and future female game devs with her actions" and "[setting] back women in the video game industry." 

    Actually,  what keeps women from the gaming industry (and other tech related fields) are online incidents like this one. A woman should be able to engage in sexual relations with her peers and not be publicly smeared for it. Quinn's plight follows the same old (unfortunate) formula of women who are slut-shamed and attacked over not just their work, but their appearance, their past relationships in their field, their hobbies, and any opinion they dare to have, really. Women are not welcome on the Internet, this is known.

    Quinn herself, on her Tumblr, has stated she will not be addressing the accusations in her ex-boyfriend’s blog posts as they are a personal matter and "not a matter of legitimate public interest." She goes on to call the bombardment of her online presence with hateful messages a form of "gendered violence, whereby my personal life becomes a means to punish my professional credentials and to try to shame me into giving up my work."

    Journalists and influential developers in the community, including Polygon games reviewer Philip Kollar, have come to her defense but it has done little to placate the angry horde.

    At the time of this writing, reddit moderators were still deleting Quinn-related comments violating the site's guidelines (i.e., posting her phone number and address) and a newly added Know Your Meme entry on the controversy is trending. The silver lining in all of this is that the controversy has generated more interest in Depression Quest (the Google Trends spike is quite dramatic), a game said communities loathe almost more than they loathe Quinn. We've been here before, of course: the same thing happened to culture critic Anita Saarkesian and her feminist video series about video games, circa 2012.

    Correction: This post initially suggested the author of a linked post at the KC Vidya Rants Tumblr was male, when she in fact is not. We've amended the wording, and regret the error.

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