Meet the Woman Targeted by Gamergate

New York magazine profiles the video-game designer who survived world-changing internet harassment.

August 1, 2017 5:00 am

In 2014, a woman named Zoë Quinn, known for her work as a controversial video game designer who was outspoken about gender inequities in the industry, was the subject of a “revenge blog” posted by her ex-boyfriend, developer Eron Gjoni. In the blog, Gjoni accused Quinn of various infidelities, including sleeping with a journalist at a gaming site called Kotaku in exchange for a positive review of one of her games, according to New York.

What happened next had ramifications that spanned across industries of journalism, gaming and law enforcement, among others. Following the blog post, the “Gamergate” scandal was birthed. Quinn, as well as her friends and family, received a drove of highly specific rape and death threats aimed at her; their contact information, including personal information like addresses, obituaries, and phone numbers were posted online. The vitriol was — and continues to be, for Quinn — incessant, frightening, and dangerous.

But one area the New York profile touches on is of major political relevance today: Gamergate, and its subject matter, was a rallying cry for a dark, disorganized corner of the web to rally around. The alt-right was able to rise up and grab a hold of mainstream attention, as writers like Milo Yiannopoulos — then relatively anonymous, and blogging for Breitbart — made chewing up and spitting out Quinn a regular part of his diet.

Writers like Yiannopoulos and lawyer Mike Cernovich helped pivot the conversation away from video games and toward a broader concept: “social-justice warriors” like Quinn, and those who defended her, were attacking free speech with political correctness. New York Mag points out that Gamergate didn’t just create its own set of celebrities, Yiannopoulos at its forefront. It also calcified its grudges into a world view that funneled its frustrations, nihilism, and “identity-politics-obsessed” rage into supporting the candidacy of now-President Donald Trump.

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