The Fine Young Capitalists
The Fine Young Capitalists, often abbreviated TFYC, is a feminist production support company which provides resources and opportunities in media production for under-represented demographics. Their guiding principle is to prove that women have marketable ideas by encouraging people to invest in them, with profits going to charity. Their relevance to GamerGate lies in their interaction with Zoe Quinn where the project was almost destroyed, and their struggles to get their story told due to the biased games media.
Women in Video Games Production
Their most recent project was concerning women video game developers. The first phase was an open call to all people who identified as women to write a 1,500 word game idea pitch. The pitches were judged by a panel of experts chosen by TFYC on the basis of financial viability, originality, immersion or fun, presentation, and, most importantly, feasibility to be produced in 6 months on a roughly $50,000 budget. Once the judges selected the top five entries, internet voting began to determine the overall winner, while a crowdfunding campaign started. Once the crowdfunding and voting was complete, the game would be produced by Autobotika studios using the crowdfunding money. The winner will get 8% of the total profits, with 10% going to Autobotika, 8.2% going to TFYC for future projects, and 73.8% going charities selected by the donators.
On 28 February 2014, shortly before beginning to collect pitches, Zoe Quinn became aware of the project. She misunderstood the idea and believed that the women were being asked to work for free for six months. She also believed that their policy regarding transgender people was intolerant in terms of trying to police when you qualified as a woman. Unsatisfied with the answers she got, and upon realizing the traffic generated to their website had caused it to crash, she and Maya Kramer celebrated "killing an exploitative startup's website."
Motivated by Quinn and Kramer's discussion, former Destructoid writer Jonathan Ross found Facebook posts from one of TFYC's partners and tweeted them publicly. The person in question did not appear in any public information because he preferred to remain a silent partner. Kramer retweeted one of Ross's tweets, and because of TFYC's inexperience with Twitter, they believed that Maya herself had doxxed them. He held Quinn partially accountable because he (incorrectly) believed Kramer was Quinn's PR agent, and because Quinn retweeted or replied to a tweet containing his information, spreading it to her followers.
Struggling for Coverage
Due to the controversy that followed their interaction with Quinn, the project was dealt a serious blow. Due to concerns over being accused of being transphobic, one partner left, losing TFYC $10,000. Their reputation was severely damaged and the accusations of transphobia and exploitation followed them everywhere, often leading to social media discussions being shut down. Journalists too, believing the accusations levied against TFYC, refused to cover them. Regardless, they began collecting pitches on 10 March 2014, which continued until 14 April. The five winners of the first phase were announced two weeks later on 29 April.
Determined to get coverage, TFYC continued contacting press, and eventually got a response from an IndieStatik reporter, Chloi Rad, who liked the project and conducted an interview with them, with the intention of publishing the article after GDC 2014, which was held in mid-March, following an opportunity to get Quinn's comment on the situtaion. Rad then went silent for a week, so TFYC posted a sketch of her on an AMA posted on reddit on 24 March, in order to get her attention.  TFYC successfully got Rad's attention, but not in the manner they were hoping for. Rad demanded they remove her name and image from the AMA, claiming that upon talking with Quinn she agreed the project was exploitative and transphobic, even though all the issues Quinn had with the project were addressed in the interview.
Rad would later state that the reason she didn't write the article was because she wasn't 100% clear on the story and considered it to be based in rumor. Rad's sentiment was repeated by other journalists, and fearing the project would fail, TFYC attempted to contact Quinn and Maya in early August to address her issues with the project, and even offered Quinn a paid consultation position, but they received no reply. Failing in all their efforts to get coverage, they launched the crowdfunding campaign and voting portions of the production on 12 August
The publication of thezoepost on 16 August 2014, and the resulting controversy, would get TFYC's project the attention it was sorely needing. On 17 August, in a reddit thread about the Wizardchan harassment, a TFYC representative posted about what happened to the production. The post was then featured Internet Aristocrat's videos, and consequently spread all over the internet. The video games board at 4chan, /v/, found out about the project and enthusiastically supported it.
Starting on 19 August, /v/ was the top contributor to TFYC's IndieGoGo campaign. They requested a referral link and specified that their portion of the profits should go to the Colon Cancer Alliance to "chemo butthurt," that is to say, cure bad blood. Amidst cynical accusations that they were only donating to spite Quinn and feminists in general, /v/ continued donating, raising $5,000 in just one day. They raised enough money that they were given the opportunity to have a character of their design added to the winning game, a design which wound up being Vivian James.
The support from /v/ was heavily criticized by people already critical of the project. They claimed that 4chan was one of the most misogynist places on the web and a feminist production accepting money from them was being hypocritical. TFYC responded by saying any claims that 4chan can't take part in a feminist project because of who they are is oppressive, and there are far more important social justice issues to tackle than stopping 4chan from donating to the Colon Cancer Alliance.
Vivian James too was criticized heavily. On 28 August, Vice ran an article in which they claimed Vivian was created to spite feminists. Dismayed by this hit piece, TFYC posted a response in their blog, where they asserted Vivian James was precisely the type of non-idealized female character that should be encouraged, and wondered what type of feminism "would sacrifice one of its own for the advantages of another.
On 24 August, TFYC's IndieGoGo page was hacked, probably through guessing their insecure 8-character password. Their page was defaced and the message left indicates it was an attack by opponents of GamerGate as retaliation for harassment Quinn and other indie devs had faced. In response to the hacking, and as a show of good faith to Quinn, TFYC recommended donating the profits from Vivian t-shirt sales to iFred, a charity Quinn had supported previously. The plan was shot down by /v/ and in addition to redesigning the t-shirt, it was announced the profits would instead go to Colon Cancer Alliance.
Due to the hack, Kotaku writer Jason Schreier contacted TFYC and asked about their project and the hacking, but no article was ever published. Later, Shreier said the reason he didn't publish the article was due to ethical concerns stemming from the fact that it involved a woman with whom one of their writers had a relationship. After having a discussion with IndieGoGO staff, the campaign was restored the on 25 August with no loss of progress.
Peace Treaty with Quinn
Due to the publicity the TFYC had recently received, which in turn spread their accusations against Quinn even farther, Quinn contacted TFYC on 27 August. She was concerned that in their reddit post, which was getting a large amount of attention, TFYC incorrectly stated that Quinn doxxed them, and made the DDoS of their website seem intentional and malicious. Over the next week they exchanged a number of emails attempting to craft a statement that TFYC would publish to declare that they had reached an understanding. They also talked on the phone, where they discussed the possibility of publicizing their accord at PAX Prime 2014, which was held from 29 August to 1 September and at which Quinn was scheduled to speak.
Quinn struggled with wording that implicated her in what happened, but TFYC were unwilling to alter it significantly because she was a significant participant in what happened and they believed her partial admission of fault was needed to repair their image. In the end they agreed to a wording for the peace treaty and it was published on TFYC blog on 29 August. They also edited their reddit comment and replaced with with an audio recording less focused on blaming Quinn.
Shortly after the publication of the peace treaty, on 5 September, TFYC posted a small excerpt of their email conversation with Quinn on twitter as evidence that Maya had doxxed them. Quinn felt that TFYC had used their emails to attack a woman and stopped talking to them. This sudden falling out after TFYC had helped her get funding for her Rebel Jam left them feeling used, so they took down the peace treaty and redirected the URL to a more harshly worded statement published on 3 September.
Despite all the obstacles put in their way, TFYC reached their $65,000 IndieGoGo goal on 11 September 2014, but would continue until 26 September. 4chan and 8chan easily secured top contributor with a combined $25,806 in donations. In addition, reddit, without using a referral link, donated enough that they were able to have a character designed as well. Voting on the winner was closed on 21 September. The winner was Afterlife Empire, created by Danielle M.
To celebrate the project's success, TFYC announced the sale of Vivian James t-shirts with proceeds benefiting the American Foundation For Suicide Prevention, as well as the final design of reddit's character, Gilda Mars. Danielle M decided to continue working with TFYC and Autobotika studios to have her game produced. There she will lead a team to develop her game, including a woman director, producer, and programmer. TFYC is already in early planning stages of their next project, a televised game jam.
- APG Gaming - Truth In Gaming: An Interview with The Fine Young CapitalistsThe Fine Young Capitalists' mission is to create media using underrepresented labor [and] unexplored demographics to fund non-profit organizations, thereby 'creating the means for the production'. In simpler terms, we are a loose group of artists and entrepreneurs who work with minorities to help them make video games, graphic novels, and videos.
- APG Gaming - Truth In Gaming: An Interview with The Fine Young CapitalistsTFYC is set up so anyone that supports the project gets part of the profits from the game to give to charity. This was supposed to create the idea in [one’s] mind that he was investing in a woman. As a radical feminist group, it’s important for people to see women as creators of ideas that are financially viable. By creating this perception, it helps us to break down the patriarchy.
- TFYC FAQ
- Women in Video Games Production overview
- Profit Breakdown
- Zoe Quinn twitter - 4:09 PM 28 Feb 2014
- Zoe Quinn twitter - 4:40 PM 28 Feb 2014
- Zoe Quinn twitter - 4:41 PM 28 Feb 2014
- Zoe Quinn twitter - 4:39 PM 28 Feb 2014
- Zoe Quinn twitter - 4:33 PM 28 Feb 2014
- Zoe Quinn twitter - 4:58 PM 28 Feb 2014
- Zoe Quinn twitter - 5:00 PM 28 Feb 2014
- Jonathan Ross twitter - 4:36 PM 28 Feb 2014
- APG Gaming - Truth In Gaming: An Interview with The Fine Young CapitalistsMy name Matthew Rappard does not appear on the current site or the previous site for TFYC, and I would have preferred to be a silent partner.
- Maya Kramer twitter - 4:32 PM 28 Feb 2014
- APG Gaming - Truth In Gaming: An Interview with The Fine Young Capitalists...her PR manager Maya Felix Kramer posted my Facebook information which Zoe replied to, alerting her followers.
- TFYC twitter - 4:48 PM 5 Sep 2014
- APG Gaming - Truth In Gaming: An Interview with The Fine Young CapitalistsWe did not expect his level of blowback, specifically the claim of being transphobic. One business partner, not wanting the rest of his work to be referred to as transphobic, left the project. He was planning to contribute $10,000 dollars. This cost was covered by me.
- APG Gaming - Truth In Gaming: An Interview with The Fine Young CapitalistsAfter the launch, it became extremely difficult to engage with an audience, because if you searched for our name especially on Twitter, then you will find long series of comments about how exploitative we were. Because of the number of tweets and retweets these search results bled into Google. More over, the original Twitter storm spread into many communities. We had a difficult time engaging with video game design communities, inevitably being called scam artists and often our threads were closed without specific reasoning as to why.
- TFYC twitter - 7:40 PM 10 Mar 2014
- TFYC twitter - 7:37 PM 14 Apr 2014
- TFYC twitter - 1:13 PM 29 Apr 2014
- APG Gaming - Truth In Gaming: An Interview with The Fine Young CapitalistsWe approached a journalist and got a response for Chloi Rad at Indiestatik, who liked the project and did an interview. Upon her arrival at the GDC, we assumed she would publish the article. We contacted her at GDC when we were having more Twitter problems with another user, asking when she was going to publish the article. She said she would talk to Zoe Quinn while she was at GDC.
- We are TFYC and we are helping women to design video games for charity, come ask us to sketch something
- APG Gaming - Truth In Gaming: An Interview with The Fine Young CapitalistsChloi Rad did not get back us for about a week. We were doing an AMA on Reddit, which included drawings, and we did a drawing of Chloi as a means of getting her attention.
- APG Gaming - Truth In Gaming: An Interview with The Fine Young CapitalistsChloi Rad did not get back us for about a week. We were doing an AMA on Reddit, which included drawings, and we did a drawing of Chloi as a means of getting her attention. Chloi asked us to immediately remove her name/picture from the AMA and explained that Zoe had told her that the project was highly exploitative and that we were transphobic. She made it clear she didn’t want to be associated with us. All the issues Zoe had with the project were addressed in the interview but Chloi never published the article.
- TFYC twitter - 9:11 AM 10 Sep 2014
- APG Gaming - Truth In Gaming: An Interview with The Fine Young CapitalistsWe contacted Zoe a total of 5 times before the start of the crowdfunding, twice by phone and twice by email, and once through Chloi. Before the crowdfunding portion started, we also sent Emails to Chloi and Maya Felix Kramer explaining we would not engage in crowdfunding if they deemed the project exploitative, nether responded. One of Zoe's emails explained that we would hire her as a consultant on a project, it was not returned.
- TFYC twitter - 10:04 PM 14 Oct 2014
- The Fine Young Capitalists IndieGoGo
- TFYC twitter - 11:55 AM 12 Aug 2014
- SillySladar comments on Depression Quest dev claims harassment and misogyny. Facts come out showing she's lying
- APG Gaming - Truth In Gaming: An Interview with The Fine Young CapitalistsThat Reddit thread was picked up by the Internet Aristocrat and published online in one of his videos. Which is where the information became public and known by the Internet community.
- TFYC twitter - 9:24 PM 20 Aug 2014
- TFYC twitter - 7:28 AM 21 Aug 2014
- TFYC twitlonger - 21 Aug 2014
- TFYC twitter - 11:50 AM 21 Aug 2014
- TFYC twitter - 5:12 PM 21 Aug 2014
- TFYC twitlonger - 22 Aug 2014
- /v/’s design for a character that is to appear in the winning game
- On Oppression and Narrative
- Meet the Female Gamer Mascot Born of Anti-Feminist Internet Drama
- On Integrity
- Indiegogo Campaign Hacked This Weekend, But Wasn’t Part Of A Widespread Attack
- On the Conspiracy
- On Failure
- APG Gaming - Truth In Gaming: An Interview with The Fine Young CapitalistsKotaku’s Jason Schreier contacted us after our Indiegogo page got hacked on Aug 25. At the time, we assumed Zoe had simply not understood the terms of our website, and asked to do an article on the facts of the issues, explaining Zoe was confused and did not understand them. We wanted to set the record straight on what happened, but again, the article was never published.
- Jason Schreier twitter - 11:41 AM 10 Sep 2014
- Jason Schreier twitlonger - 10 Sep 2014
- On Failure and Success
- Zoe Quinn twitter - 7:39 PM 27 Aug 2014
- GameLoading: Rise Of The Indies (sneak peek)
- APG Gaming - Truth In Gaming: An Interview with The Fine Young CapitalistsAt the time, we felt that since PAX was such an important part of Zoe's work life that we should make a statement on the situation. We asked for a phone call. Zoe wanted us to deny that she had doxxed us, we said we wouldn't lie but would make a statement. Zoe then proceeded to bribe us by saying that she would speak about us at PAX if we [change] the statement.
- On Apologizing for Getting Punched in the Face
- Zoe Quinn/TFYC emails (27-28 August, 2014)
- Zoe Quinn/TFYC emails (28–29 August 2014)
- On Zoe Quinn - Our last statement
- SillySladar comments on Depression Quest dev claims harassment and misogyny. Facts come out showing she's lying (edited)
- TFYC twitter - 4:55 PM 5 Sep 2014
- Zoe Quinn/TFYC emails (3-5 Sep, 2014)
- APG Gaming - Truth In Gaming: An Interview with The Fine Young CapitalistsOn September 2 we contacted an interactive/television producer that worked on video games that was interested in helping Zoe with Rebel Jam and to provide funding for the project. Zoe did not respond to 3 emails and 1 text asking if she'd like to have a meeting with the producer. We felt extremely used at this point.
- On Broken Phones and Meeting Goals
- On Endings
- TFYC twitter - 8:34 PM 1 Sep 2014
- Afterlife Empire Receives the Most Votes
- Respecting Promises
- TFYC twitter - 6:36 AM 15 Sep 2014
- A response to Social Justice Viv
- On Making a Difference