Gender Bias In the Gaming World: The Zoe Quinn Controversy

Gender-biased harassment is not new. However, it has gone to a whole other level.

They broke up; he got mad and wrote a long blog accusing her of all kinds of nefarious goings on. In the parlance of the Internet it is TL;DR (too long; don’t read). If you are interested in the original blog, go to your favorite search engine, type in Zoe Quinn, and follow links until your heart is satisfied or annoyed.

Quick history: Zoe Quinn developed a game called Depression Quest, which came out in 2013. The game is an interactive, fictional story. The goal of the game is that people who do not fight depression can learn what it is to be depressed, without actually being depressed. It is also a tool to help those with depression realize that they are not alone.

Depression Quest has won awards and received high accolades from expert gaming critics. This has not stopped the accusations from flying. In fact, one of the accusations is that Quinn slept with these critics and journalists in order to further her career.


Back to the break up–Zoe’s ex went on a tirade in his blog, claiming that while they were together she slept her way through other gaming professionals on her way to developing Depression Quest. Despite his verbose (chatty, if you will) post, what we have is a nasty break-up, bad feelings, a spurned and broken heart, and laments.

Most of the time these laments are saved for our closest friends. Quinn’s ex took to the Internet with what amounts to, unproved allegations of an unfaithful heart. What it has become is so much more!

Though Zoe’s ex never outright accuses her of using sex to advance her career, he implies it. He suggests that her relationship with the man (a gaming journalist) she later collaborated with, were dark and murky. The Internet, specifically gamers, have taken his allegations, and turned them from just Zoe to every female who has ever had a thought of getting into the gaming business.

Many of the naysayers are using this “scandal” as a platform. In an effort to sound legitimate, they critique her game saying things like, “. . . it is apparent Quinn has never been to a creative writing workshop.” Because it is a simplistic game, graphically and mechanically, many gamers feel that its success was unwarranted.  From that point, they go on to blast females in general and female gamers specifically.

As I said in my opening paragraph, gender-biased harassment is not new. It has been going on for decades; dare I say, centuries? I know for a fact it has been going on for decades. I remember my mother coming home from work angrier than I had ever seen her. A boss from another office told her not to “worry [her] pretty little head about it.” I was five. Concerning herself about the situation was her job. He made it clear she was not wanted there because she was “just a woman.”

For the most part, many people have accepted (at least publicly) that women want careers beyond home and hearth. They accept, (at least publicly), that women are going to be in positions of power and influence. However, the gaming world seems to be stuck in the Dark Ages.

There is a very vocal and even scary element in the gaming world that has taken stalking to a completely new level. They do not just bash women in the industry as being incompetent, a fallacious lie; they go to a level I have seldom seen before.

Far too many men in that world are willing to threaten the women who dare to cross the threshold of gaming. Accusations fly, example Zoe Quinn; abuse goes from denial of service to threats of rape, death, and dismemberment.

One example of this abuse is Anita Sarkeesian. She is the creator of the webseries, Feminist Frequency and Tropes vs Women in Video Games. Because she calls out the industry, she has become the target of some of the vilest harassment I have seen. Example: (WARNING: VERY GRAPHIC LANGUAGE, VIOLENCE, and SEXUAL CONTENT).

This is never acceptable. As a woman, I am furious! As a human being, I am sickened that another creature baring the title Homo sapiens would be like this.

Our laws need to catch up or States need to put more teeth to the laws that exist. This is not a Freedom of Speech issue. You cannot yell fire in a crowded theater and you cannot threaten someone. Cyberharassment simply must be a prosecutable offense. Under any other circumstance, this language would be considered a threat. If it were said to a person’s face, that person would be well within her right to protect herself. Most courts would find in her favor! If it were said in a “stand your ground” State, well . . . .

I am very thankful for many men who are fighting this alongside the women who just want to play video and Internet games. Jonathan McIntosh of Polygon and Andrew Todd of Baddass Digest are just two very big, very vocal supporters of women in gaming. There are others. There are many, my husband included, who support women as gamers and game developers. These men recognize that like the real world, the gaming world is not just a man’s domain; recognizing just how empty life (or pretend life) would be without the interaction of women.

To quote one young man, “I feel like now, more than ever, women are becoming a presence in gaming, and this is undoubtedly a good thing for all. Gaming is now taking strides toward abolishing the “boys club” mentality and perception, which is why it saddens me so much to see this event [Quinn controversy] unfold as it has. . . the[se] attitudes and actions have placed the sexism of the industry in the spotlight, . . . legitimate criticism has been drowned out by a sea of needless hate. I very much hope that we as a community [gamers] use this time to analyze where this toxicity comes from and take steps to remove it, leaving respect in its place. Gaming is for everyone and it is time everyone felt welcome.”

With young men like that, I have hope for the future of gaming. Thank you my friend. (Name withheld to protect him from cyberharassment).


Lillian Davis
Lillian has her Master of Art's in Counseling and is a counselor (Licensed Professional Counselor, LPC) in the state of MO. She has six years of experience in counseling related fields. She works with people from all walks of life. Her passion is working with people who face abuse, depression, low self-esteem, and anxiety. She is also certified with Prepare and Enrich to work with couples in every stage of couple-ness.
  • ShayColman

    hp8 ShayColman You’re right that she’d need to be proven guilty to be charged with anything and i’m not suggesting shes is but rather i’m saying that it needs to be ok to put the situation into question. And yeah, it sucks when anyone is threatened to that extent and anyone who does that or supports it is a douchebag, but the media has been portraying male gamers as a whole as a discriminatory bunch of thugs that hate women and that is also extremely unfair.
    Journalistic integrity is a super power weapon in the industry, i know myself that i get swayed into buying games because of positive critic responses, assuming others feel the same way, we need to be able to put their integrity in the spotlight when something like this pops up without all being labeled haters.
    Good or bad anyone in the spotlight is going to get extremism on both ends of the scale, how many fans would give an organ to her? like i said, i think it sucks that she doesn’t feel safe, she has a right to feel safe but despite the threats i still want reassurance from the industry as a whole that bribing isn’t a thing and that i can trust the likes of IGN reviewers.
    Let me assure you, if it was a gay developer and a gay reviewer they’d get threats, if was a black developer and a white chick reviewer they’d get threats, if it was a white chick and a white dude they’d get threats. no matter how you spin it they’ll get threats. it’s not necessarily because a girls involved, that only gets played out as a factor because it is in this instance, really it means nothing. get my point?

  • hp8

    ShayColman  “Can you prove she didn’t do it?”……????? I thought in this country it’s supposed to be can you prove that she DID do it. And yes guys do give each other shit about nothing, but how many of them resort to sexual violence? If you don’t change your mentality right now I will slash your throat and piss in it, then I’ll find stake to pierce through your father’s penis and rip open your mother’s cunt. Doesn’t sound very nice does it? But hey don’t worry about it, I’m just giving you shit.

  • LarsAnderson

    Good lord it’s like they back Quinn because she’s a woman, despite her despicable behavior.

  • ShayColman

    Can you prove she didn’t do it?
    Is her game good?
    Does the game belong on Steam?
    Maybe because there’s always going to be hipsters looking for trash in bins.
    If you want respect please just STFU with the feminist shit and get it over yourselves. You make it sound like guys don’t give guys shit about absolutely anything and everything. It’s part of life, some people are nice, others not so much, who cares.

  • lancedance2

    Bobbieishere Baldaar AllPro_1stRound Gaming journalism basically has gone to shit after a huge exposure. Zoe was having a sexual relationship with several journalists. This is something she has admitted too. This is a conflict of interest, in any other industry, not only would the people involved be fired, but people who knew about it and said nothing would be fired. Yes, not all journalists are corrupt, IGN and Gamespot have been suprising neutral about this, unfortunately, the rabbit who with the other runs deep. Look up internetaristocrat on youtube and watch his videos on it, he provides all the evidence and explains it quite thoroughly.

  • lancedance2

    Jesus Christ, do these articles do any research at all or have any understanding about what is going on. 1. Zoe Quinn’s sex life is a non-issue, nobody cares, the small few who are harassing her for it, are acting independently. 2. What proof is there that the person who sent those to Anita is a gamer or did it because of her videos? Because from the looks of it he just seems like a mentally disturbed stalker. The point is: THIS IS NOT ABOUT GENDER.

  • grahamcarroll016

    Are you actually trying to defend Zoe Quinn?

    that woman framed a group vulnerable people to pretend they had made death and rape threats to herself so she could get pity money from her fans. 

    What a bullshit article. Quinn isn’t hated because she’s a woman, she’s hated because she’s lying, manipulative fraudster.

  • Bobbieishere

    Baldaar AllPro_1stRound
    Baldaar, AllPro is right. What we are trying to do is find out what is going on, we don’t fully know how big this shitstorm is, we’re working on it.
    Journalists are not ALL corrupt, they are not ALL innocent: they are individuals, and we will judge them one by one.
    And given this woman’s background, it is clear she was only exposed to one side of the story, and her vision makes perfect sense unless you have seen the same screencaps and logs we have.

  • Baldaar

    AllPro_1stRound Baldaar Yes, journalists are all victims now, sure. Notice that the original post claims Zoe is the victim instead? What the post is doing is covering the faults of the gaming media and shaming people who criticize. 
    What your doing is a pathetic straw men of my post that anyone can read. How old are you?

  • Thought-Trainer

    Bobbieishere AllPro_1stRound punkyamil Stay tuned. We have a feature for exactly what you are referring to that is scheduled to be publiushed tomorrow, as you are absolutely correct, a lot of noise is being made to distract from the original issue, like bobbieishere and Allpro have pointed out. This article is layer one of the onion that is being peeled open as there are many concerns in gaming culture that are being exposed by this debacle. Hopefully, once all sides are heard we as an industry will be able to point to who and what the problems are and begin to move away from them as we seek honest and truthful coverage of the things we care most about.

  • AllPro_1stRound

    Baldaar Wow! So now all journalists are corrupt? Where is your evidence? Or do you operate under a lynch mob mentality where you just burn down the town because you heard that a witch lives there?

  • Baldaar

    Gender bias? We are attacking corrupt journalists like you! Zoe’s actions are not being scrutinized here. Stop pretending that you are not on trial.

  • Bobbieishere

    AllPro_1stRound punkyamil
    There’s a 400 page thread on ‘the escapist’ on the matter. InternetAristocrat and Mundanematt have published multiple video’s following the events, other gaming personalities have posted their opinions as well (and have been harassed as a result)
    does that get any coverage? No
    But one threat from some random troll is enough to condemn them all

  • Bobbieishere

    AllPro_1stRound Bobbieishere punkyamil
    Have you seen #gamergate ? That’s about the journalistic integrity, yet it keeps getting hit by wave after wave of self-proclaimed SJW’s who do nothing but belittle and redicule people of all sexes and orientations who enjoy gaming. That combined with the massive censorship campaigns by reddit and the likes to stop spreading awareness of the issue pretty much proves the point that there is an issue.

  • AllPro_1stRound

    Bobbieishere AllPro_1stRound punkyamil I agree with you, the original point was one thing, but then it spiraled into something completely different. Journalistic integrity was the main point, but when the ex put out all that information, trolls took that as an opportunity to show their immaturity and potential hatred for women/female gamers the story then became “why would it ever be acceptable for someone to be treated like this?’ I wish the story was still about journalistic integrity, which would be nothing new as it has been questionable for awhile now with very few sites not being compromised. But instead we’ve pretty much moved on to slut shaming, not because of feminists, and SJM but because for some reason the Internet felt the need to change the conversation from a man getting his feeling hurt and then making private business public, in an apparent attempt at whistleblowing. This sucks but it doesn’t change the appearance that for some reason these women are being harassed. However, for all we know the harassment could be fake and the original images provided by the ex could also be fake. SO all this potentially could be a way of playing gamers. Just sad overall

  • Bobbieishere

    AllPro_1stRound punkyamil
    because if she was a gamer, she’d know that the accusations are not on feminist game devellopers or journalists. This whole scandal revolves about gaming journalists being corrupt, nepotistic and having conflict of interest. Zoe’s ex doesn’t imply she’s had sex with journalists that covered her work, he proves it with pictures. The only reason Social Justice and Feminism is being dragged into this is because Zoe and others involved claim that is why they are being harassed.
    Result: don’t ask questions about journalistic integrity or you’re a mysogenistic pig.

  • AllPro_1stRound

    punkyamil How do you know who is or is not a gamer? gaming is a bit more
    mainstream than you may care to believe or are capable of understanding.
    Do gamers not have jobs or something? Or are you of the belief that a
    ‘gamer’ is a fat, white, privileged, male living in his parents
    basement? If so, you and your ilk are the ones damaging gaming culture.

  • punkyamil

    here we go sweetheart hope you like the video

  • punkyamil

    Those two women have done more damage to women in gaming then any internet troll could have dream off. Anita and Quinn are professional victims who profit from been victims of those evil gamers, both of then have zero talent and are only relevant because of there fake harassment complains

  • punkyamil

    Your not even a gamer for god sake. Another feminist clueless opinion