Indie game developer.
The controversy that preceded Gamergate, brung about by the personal revelations by her ex-boyfriend Eron Gjoni on 16 August 2014 in the form of a WordPress-hosted blog called The Zoe Post https://archive.today/36BBc. The fact that the “Five Guys” Gjoni refers to are all involved in the videogame industry or it’s ancillary press gave rise in internet communitites to many accusations of cronyism and corruption, most of them spurious. This is a great factor in the accusations of harassment and misogyny leveled at this episode and the subsequent Gamergate debacle
Two of these men didn’t have their names revealed by Gjoni because he claimed they didn’t know Quinn was in a relationship at the time they got involved with her. Since then, rumor has pinned these men as indie developers Kyle Pulver and Brandon McCartin. However, there’s no evidence towards this, and Pulver claimed innocence in his personal Twitter https://archive.today/coQ5f, but the rumors surrounding the two has persisted, in large part thanks to Youtube videos who used as sources information cribbed largely from anonymous imageboard 4chan http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5-51PfwI3M.
Of the three named men among the “Five Guys”, one was Joshua Boggs, an nidie game developer, soon before he hired her, according to Gjoni’s tell-all.
Gjoni went on to be portrayed by Quinn’s acquantances and sympathetic media as a “jilted ex-boyfriend”, despite the evidence he provided, in the form of many chatlogs, pointing towards him being on the receiving end of an abusive relationship.
Before The Zoe Post was published
Gjoni has stated that before publishing The Zoe Post as a blog, he tried to post them the forums at both Penny Arcade and Something Awful https://archive.today/aVEOG. He chose those sites as they had a positive view of Quinn, thus minimizing chances of harassment towards her while hopefully allowing him to say. However, as he explains it:
[Penny Arcade’s] SocialEntropy++ subforum deleted the thread within 5 minutes of posting. Something Awful sent it to the comedy gas chamber within 20 minutes of posting, until a mod read it there and realized how much it was not funny and deleted like hell.
Someone on Something Awful alerted Zoe on twitter within an hour of the deletion. At which point I knew shit was about to hit the fan, and set up the wordpress so that I could control the primary source of information in case people started twisting things it was saying.
Later it surfaced that it was his friend Rachel M, who had been closely following the nascent debacle, who suggested he posted it to a site of his own. See the section below about Rachel M.
Quinn’s Facebook response
Soon after Gjoni’s “The Zoe Post” went online, Quinn posted the following message on her Facebook, according to LPer Broteam Pill https://archive.today/k6cAP.
Among uncorroborated claims about Gjoni (schizoidal, death threats, spreading The Zoe Post via 4chan etc.), fabrications (the “nude photos provided by a different shitty ex” were actually pornographic pictures she was paid for. See the subsection below about Mallorie Nasrallah), exaggerations (men accused of rose things having the benefit of skepticism, despite the cases of Brad Wardell) and a few correct claims (she was indeed harassed by anonymous parties as Gjoni’s revelations spread through the internet), she repeats several pleas for no one to look into Gjoni’s accusations and asking for “radio silence” (which found echo among journalist friends, as seen in the GameJournoPros list).
Other pre-Quinnspiracy accusations
The day after Gjoni’s revelation, indie developer Wolfgang Wozniak came forward on Twitter accusing Quinn of having sexually harassed him at a mutual friends’ wedding earlier the same year. Wozniak was subsequently heavily criticized by Zoe Quinn’s friends. Quinn’s critics pointed out that this seems to constitute a clear instance of victim blaming, something which the circle of internet activists defending Quinn claims to be against.
Wozniak has since deleted the accusations and throughly apologized to Quinn.
Sabotage of The Fine Young Capitalists
As the arguments progressed, there surfaced a new claim of malfeasance surrounding Quinn. Reddit user Matthew Rappard a.k.a. SillySladar, spokesman for the feminist-guided game development event called The Fine Young Capitalists, wrote on the day following Gjoni’s revelation that Quinn intentionally sabotaged TFYC’s because it was a rival to her own project called Rebel Game Jam, stonewalled their efforts to clear matters and doxxed him https://archive.today/2yj71. The original post has since been edited to point to a Soundcloud recording of the accusations https://archive.today/xaNTQ. He has since clarified that it was Quinn’s friend and possible PR agent Maya Alexander Kramer https://archive.today/UxSje#selection-1226.17-1375.15 who did the actual doxxing, tho that post has since then been deleted https://archive.today/DxJU2. A previous post of his from 23 July 2014 mentioned Quinn sabotage without naming culprits https://archive.today/TovjX.
Quinn has since misrepresented her role in sabotaging TFYC, and has claimed to have no professional relation with Maya Alexander Kramer https://archive.today/RSCJx despite evidence to the contrary. There has also surfaced a rumor that Maya Alexander Kramer, like Robin Arnott, was involved with Indiecade 2013’s highlight of Depression Quest. However, she isn’t listed in any capacity for the 2013 event, only for the 2014 edition. https://archive.today/7cH7a
These allegations against Quinn drove considerable donations to TFYC‘s crowdfunding campaign https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-fine-young-capitalists–2, with the main collective source of donations by far being 4chan’s videogame board, /v/ https://archive.today/CvtgO, which is often accused by Gamergate detractors of misogyny. SlillySladar argued at length about the topic on the project’s blog, while pointing out that the gaming press had been less than forthcoming with their requests for coverage.
On 25 August, Quinn made a series of tweets where she denied all of Matthew Rappard’s accusations and claimed he privately admitted to not being doxxed by her and that she had documents to back up all of it, and included an offer for journalists to contact her to verify her claims https://archive.today/jXqRC. When asked about it on TFYC‘s blog, Matthew Rappard effectively claimed she was bluffing https://archive.today/sUStI. On 15 October she posted the e-mails to Imgur https://archive.today/fF4uj, and the supposed admission of not being doxxed pictured below.
Mismanagement of Rebel Game Jam
Related to the TFYC debacle.
Zoe Quinn had been in the process of organizing her own gameing event called Rebel Game Jam since at least April 2014 https://archive.today/nHBs9. It has been criticized for its lack of transparency, since there’s no public details about it such as planned location and date, and whose donation form leads to Quinn’s personal Paypal as opposed to a company’s or organization’s https://archive.today/BZGIo.
As Gjoni’s accusations against Quinn were made public, members of 4chan remembered a previous controversy involving her.
In December 2013, soon after submitting Depression Quest to Steam Greenlight for a second time, Zoe Quinn alleged she was harassed by members of Wizardchan, an anonymous imageboard dedicated to adult male virgins. According to her, poster from that site were offended that a woman would make a game about a condition she could not suffer from https://archive.today/vfdU9.
Members of Wizardchan contested the claims as cherry-picking two random anonymous posts and blowing them out of proportion since anyone can post these anonymously, as well as jumping to conclusions about a harassing phone call she claimed to receive. However, it’s impossible to know for sure so it becomes a matter of whose word you can trust.
The press provided massive support for Quinn https://archive.today/FRHnR https://archive.today/VOlCC https://archive.today/L7Fr1 https://archive.today/TiPbj https://archive.today/5Cq3U https://archive.today/wf41Y https://archive.today/MPPVg https://archive.today/CDoRi, and Depression Quest was accepted into Steam in the very next batch of greenlit titles http://steamcommunity.com//sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=205494242.
Due to the nature of Wizardchan’s software, it is impossible for non-admin users to know where the abusive posts made against her came from, as they could be made by anyone. However, Fredrik Brennan, former owner of the site, claims that the abusive posts were made by out-of-site trolls and Zoe Quinn herself in an interview with Know Your Meme https://archive.today/kiwF6:
I was friends with the subsequent admin of Wizardchan, Glaive, who was in charge during the Zoë drama. The way it was described in the media is not the way that it happened at all. Many Wizardchan users are very depressed and have trouble even ordering pizza over the telephone, muchless calling someone they don’t know and making threats. The threatening posts made on Wizardchan were made by Zoë herself for attention and by trolls from other websites, as was confirmed by IP checks. Some media outlets recanted their story, but by then the damage was already done.
He does not corroborate, however, how he can be sure what Zoe Quinn’s personal IP was.
Another past acquantaince speaks out
Early October, photographer Mallorie Nasrallah posted on her Facebook page a past diatribe with Quinn https://archive.today/9sCbq after having heard of the ongoing Gamergate debate. Although this episode isn’t related to videogames, it reinforces the notion that Quinn has an abusive personality despite being defended by so many within the gaming journalism business and indie dev industry.
A close friend of Eron Gjoni speaks out
Rachel M, a friend of Gjoni who closely followed the ensuing drama of the latter days of his relationship with Quinn, provided her account of their relationship https://archive.today/TlcLV, describing Quinn as fitting the profile of a manipulative personality.
Faking her own doxxing
On 19 August 2014, Quinn claimed to have been hackd and doxxed by 4chan’s /v/ board. However, evidence provided by Quinn pointed to her own claim being false https://archive.today/vXZwQ#selection-2426.0-2426.1. The personal data present in her dox turned out to be completely unrelated to her, and inconsistencies with her claims were spotted https://archive.today/aZXgq.
Soon after the publication of The Zoe Post, several gaming sites enforced bans on talking about “Quinnspiracy” at large. Some of that censorship came at the request of Zoe Quinn herself.
On 19 August 2014, gaming website Gamesnosh was contacted by their webhost requesting for an article about Zoe Quinn to be removed https://archive.today/kXsla https://archive.today/MYH4p. It was taken off air, but is currently back live.
On the same day, a video by MundaneMatt discussing the same subject was taken down from Youtube on DMCA grounds. It has since been re-uploaded https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5CXOafuTXM. Later, mundameMatt confimed that the DMCA takedown request came from Zoe Quinn herself https://archive.today/UqAwg.
The spurious use of DMCA claims to censor a video on Youtube struck game reviewer TotalBiscuit as unethical https://archive.today/MphRL.
Depression Quest forum on Steam store
Know Your Meme contributor Aquapendulum presented a screenshot showing him being banned from the discussion section of Depression Quest’s Steam store after making a post publicizing The Fine Young Capitalists after it surfaced that Zoe Quinn had sabotaged them https://archive.today/vXZwQ#selection-2764.0-2764.1. It makes sense that he would be banned for the post in question which indeed has nothing to do with Depression Quest at all, but what’s unusual is the ban reason, which simply states “abuse”, in another example of the narrative of harassment that is levelled at Quinn’s critics.
Still on 19 August, the aforementioned argument by TotalBiscuit https://archive.today/MphRL, presented in a Twitlonger page, was posted to one of Reddit’s two main videogame subreddits, /r/gaming, and the topic was the target of massive post deletion by its mods https://archive.today/ENcGC. This further exacerbated concerns of censorship surrounding “Quinnspiracy”, especially seeing as one of the subreddit’s moderators, el_chupacupcake, spoke to Quinn about it.
In the ensuing mass of deleted posts, reports of bans and “shadowbans” trickled in https://archive.today/Ai3NI https://archive.today/TgWOK, including automated bans for users who visited 4chan at the same time as they posted on Reddit under a blanket accusation of brigading. These bans came not only from /r/gaming, but also from /r/games, which is the biggest subreddit for proper discussion of videogames, and other minor subreddits.
On roughly 23 or 24 August, the claims of systemic censorship on any topic related to “Quinnspiracy” were confirmed by an accidental leak of private chats of a /r/games moderator, XavierMendel, due to a his badly configured Puush account which made it public. It included several screenshots where he, under the the nickname of ‘Some Guy’, explained Zoe Quinn’s intervention and how the two main gaming subreddits came to enact blanket bans on the subject, and despite not stating his Reddit username he was soon identified and was demodded and banned from /r/games as well as private and publics IRC rooms related to the subreddit. https://web.archive.org/web/20140907134153/http://imgur.com/a/GD4EM https://archive.today/mpOTH https://archive.today/ZUtwq https://archive.today/cI8I6 http://pastebin.com/MyrkRPE6. The leaked screenshots also include a link to a private message which Zoe Quinn had sent to the mod team of several gaming subreddits requesting a complete ban on the topic of “Quinnspiracy”.
Some important details according to these claims:
- the mods of /r/gaming (among them, the aforementioned el_chupacupcake) catered to her request and enacted a ban
- the mods of /r/games initially didn’t cater to her and allowed discussion so long as it didn’t involve dox, but were coerced into enacting a ban by Reddit admins (“I can share that they were being intentionally vague in what they were telling us. Never any ultimatums or orders. Just stuff like yeah we could allow this, and we may or may not consider it as you allowing doxxing to go on. The whole “nice account shame if something happened to it” routine”)
- this also entailed ignoring requests by Eron Gjoni to simply be heard (when asked if he could share what Gjoni had said to the mod teams, XavierMendel stated: “We had to decline before he sent us anything. Sorry.”)
- Reddit admins have full access to users’ private messages
Soon after being de-modded, XavierMendel shared his side of the story https://archive.today/j6IFo http://pastebin.com/MyrkRPE6. On 7 September, he also gave an informal interview https://soundcloud.com/user613982511/recording-xm-2014.
From “Quinnspiracy” to Gamergate
On 28 August 2014, almost two weeks after the publication of The Zoe Post, a series of articles appeared in various gaming sites and blogs with the thematic of “gamers are dead”. These were made of invective against not just those who criticized or mocked the “Quinnspiracy” and those involved, but against gamers as a whole, thus turning the “Quinnspiracy” into Gamergate.
Please see the page on Leigh Alexander, the author of the first and more vicious article, for more information.
Litigation against Eron Gjoni
At an unprecise date, Zoe Quinn engaged in litigation against Eron Gjoni, who on 23 September 2014 requested for donations for legal services https://archive.today/X55ky. Tho the donation page has since been removed, an archive remains https://archive.today/9kaj1. The court hearing happened on 30 September 2014 concerning an abuse prevention order filed by Quinn against Gjoni.
On 2 October 2014, Benjamin Hitov, a friend of Eron Gjoni, claimed to have been to the hearing and posted a thread on Reddit https://archive.today/Qzuuc, saying that the hearing was severely flawed, with the judge being dismissive of the arguments from Gjoni’s side, the granting of an order of physical restraint based on false claims, and the issue of freedom speech curtailed by a court. Also noteworthy is that it was made clear the Quinn’s request was filed under the Massachusetts General Laws chapter 209A https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartII/TitleIII/Chapter209A, which concerns the prevention of physical abuse, despite the basis of her claims were almost all related to harassment on the internet, which would fall under chapter 258E https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartIII/TitleIV/Chapter258E instead.
On 16 October 2014, Buzzfeed published an interview with Gjoni, where among various parts of Gamergate, discussed the court proceedings https://archive.today/PdVk5. He soon posted the full transcript of the interview to his blog https://archive.today/Q0VjC.
On 23 October, a scanned copy of Quinn’s affidavit surfaced. As claimed in the Reddit thread in 2 October, almost all of Quinn’s claims actually concern internet harassment instead of physical, and the claims that do mention physical harm had been debunked in that thread. This brings back the distinction between chapters 209A and 258E and why Quinn’s side chose the former.
Eron Gjoni has clarified on Twitter https://archive.today/AJZ7X important legal details concerning the two laws. Namely, it concerns past instances of abuse of restraining orders as gag orders. Past abuses of such orders filed under 258E have been successfully challenged in the past; however, orders filed under 209A lack such a precedent. In other words, it was easier to restrict Gjoni’s freedom of speech by filing under chapter 209A instead of the 258E.
Third-party analysis of Zoe Quinn’s affidavit
On 23 December 2014, a Reddit poster provided an in-depth look at the affidavit provided by Zoe Quinn https://archive.today/PXoJq.
Starting with the suspicious use of Massachusetts General Laws chapter 209A instead of 258E as discussed above, they go on to pick apart Quinn’s claims one by one while providing plentiful sources.
The conclusions reached is that the affidavit is so full of misleading claims or outright fabrications that Quinn might be liable for perjury, and that “Quinn’s primary, if not sole, motive in filing the complaint appears to be a very short-term strategy of imposing a gag order on Gjoni for at least several months to a year”.
Smear campaign against Brad Wardell
On 2 December 2014, Quinn went to Twitter to level accusations against Stardock CEO and developer Brad Wardell, namely that he had offered a job to an artist because he drawn a pornographic strip featuring Quinn and they shared pro-GG opinions. As the accusations turned out to be spurious (Wardell hadn’t offered a job, only told the artist that Stardock was hiring and thus he could send his resumé, and he wasn’t evevn aware of the offending strip in the first place), she brought up court charges faced by Wardell in the past years (the charges against him had been dismissed with prejudice) and tweeted to her friends about it in a seemingly clear attempt to smear him.
This is explained in great detail in the appropriate section of Brad Wardell’s page on this site.
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