Quinn at the 2015 XOXO Festival
|Born||1987 (age 31–32)|
|Other names||Zoë Tiberius Quinn|
|Occupation||Video game developer|
|Known for||Depression Quest|
Zoë Tiberius Quinn (born 1987) is an American video game developer, programmer, writer, and artist. They[a] developed the interactive fiction game Depression Quest, which was released in 2013. In 2014, a blog post by Quinn's ex-boyfriend sparked the Gamergate controversy, in which Quinn was subjected to extensive harassment.
Quinn was born in 1987 and was raised in a small town near the Adirondack Mountains in New York. Growing up, Quinn often played video games. A favorite of theirs was Commander Keen, an MS-DOS game featuring an eight-year-old protagonist who builds a spaceship with items found around his house and then travels the Galaxy defending the Earth. As a teenager, they suffered from depression and were diagnosed with the condition at the age of 14. They have described receiving little sympathy or assistance from school district officials who Quinn says were "less than understanding about teens with depression and suicide issues".
At the age of 24, Quinn moved to Canada and made their first foray into video game programming. Their first game was the result of a six-week course on video game creation that they attended after seeing an advertisement in a newspaper. In a later interview for The New Yorker, they said, "I felt like I'd found my calling."
One of Quinn's earliest creative works, Depression Quest, was conceived as a "choose-your-own path" adventure detailing the troubled life of a person suffering from depression, with many of the "correct" paths blocked due to the protagonists' struggle with mental self-care. Quinn thought this sort of game narrative would be a good way to depict depression, imposing a set of rules on players they might not experience in their day-to-day lives. Depression Quest was released in February 2013.
Quinn attempted to publish the game on Steam Greenlight service twice – in December 2013 and later in August 2014, when it was accepted and released by Steam.Depression Quest was featured in a Playboy article as one of several video games dealing with the subjective experience of depression.
Quinn created the Game Developer Help List, designed to bring experienced game developers and novice developers into contact with one another. In 2014, Quinn intended to be part of the canceled YouTube reality television show codenamed "Game_Jam", which was meant to bring together a number of prominent indie game developers.
In 2015, Quinn wrote a chapter for Videogames for Humans, a book about games made using the Twine tool. Quinn also contributed a chapter to the book The State of Play: Sixteen Voices on Video Games, detailing their experiences making Depression Quest and the subsequent harassment they faced. In 2015, Quinn appeared in the documentary GTFO. They also wrote a scenario for "Widow's Walk", an expansion for Betrayal at House on the Hill, released in 2016.
In September 2016, Quinn was reported to be working with erotica author Chuck Tingle on a full motion dating sim under the working title "Project Tingler". In January 2018, Quinn's role as Narrative Designer at Heart Machine's upcoming game Solar Ash Kingdom was also announced.
In June 2018, Quinn's career as a comics writer started with the announcement of their work with illustrator Robbi Rodriguez on DC Vertigo's Goddess Mode, which became one of the last comics released under the Vertigo label. In July 2019, their participation in the upcoming issues of IDW Publishing's The Addams Family: The Bodies Issue and Marvel's Fearless was announced.
Quinn is interested in human enhancement and has implanted an NTAG216 chip in the back of their hand that can be programmed to perform various functions. Their first use of the chip was to load it with the download code for the game Deus Ex. Quinn also has a magnetic implant in their left ring finger.
In August 2014, Eron Gjoni, a former boyfriend of Quinn, posted a lengthy blog post detailing his relationship with Quinn. Based on the contents of the post, Quinn was falsely accused of receiving positive coverage from a journalist with whom they were in a relationship. It was later shown that the journalist in question had only once briefly mentioned Quinn's work, and not while they were in a relationship. These accusations sparked the Gamergate controversy. Quinn suffered a long period of harassment including doxing, rape threats, and death threats. Harassment associated with Gamergate resulted in widespread recognition of sexism in gaming.
According to The New Yorker, the harassment escalated to the point where Quinn, "fearing for [their] safety, chose to leave [their] home" and began working with the authorities to identify those responsible for the harassment. Quinn detailed the experience in an interview on MSNBC's Ronan Farrow Daily, saying that Gamergate represented a rapidly shrinking fringe among an increasingly diverse gaming community and those attacking Quinn and other women in gaming needed "to just grow up". Speaking with BBC News, Quinn said the harassment had consumed their life, leading them to feel as if "surrounded by nothing but hate – it's virulent, it's everywhere" and that they were "just trying to survive". The attacks boiled down to "the same accusation everybody makes toward every successful woman: she got to where she is because she had sex with someone" and Quinn also pointed out that Gamergate had targeted "the people with the least power in the industry". "[I] used to go to games events and feel like I was going home... Now it's just like... are any of the people I'm currently in the room with, the ones that said they wanted to beat me to death?" Quinn says their therapist remarked of the harassment, "I don't even know what to tell you, this is so f-?-?-ing far outside anything I'm aware of."
In January 2015, Quinn co-founded Crash Override, a private network of experts to assist victims of online harassment which in March 2015 joined forces with Randi Harper's Online Abuse Prevention Initiative.
On September 24, 2015, Quinn spoke at the United Nations along with Anita Sarkeesian about online harassment. In their speech, Quinn spoke about the need for technology companies to provide proper moderation and terms of service which protect marginalized groups. They also raised concerns about providing better protections for transgender women and victims of domestic violence on the Internet. Quinn identified as non-cisgender in January 2017.
In September 2017, Quinn published the memoir Crash Override: How Gamergate (Nearly) Destroyed My Life, and How We Can Win the Fight Against Online Hate. The book has received generally positive reviews, with critics praising what they described as Quinn's thoughtful, nuanced portrayal of their harassers, but lamenting the book's "scattered" narrative flow. The book was nominated for the 2018 Hugo Award for Best Related Work (i.e., non-fiction work related to science fiction or fantasy).
One thing that did get my attention was mention on Twitter that Zoë Quinn has been working on Solar Ash Kingdom as a narrative designer for the past couple years.
The game industry has been in the spotlight for the past week, with several incidents of harassment and sexism making headlines.
Her story, which mingles details[...]Not without flaws but an informative and inspiring book.
Quinn uses GamerGate as a lens to explore[...] But after charting her own youthful journey through the darker corners of the internet, Quinn ultimately emphasizes compassion: [...] It's an interesting take, given that some mistakes have long-term consequences for all involved.[...] I wish she had elaborated on this a bit more. [...]But the overwhelming message of Crash Override resonates across industries and experiences:[...]