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Zoe Quinn claims 4chan was behind GamerGate the whole time

The long-harassed Quinn screengrabbed what she claims is evidence that 4chan manufactured GamerGate from the start.


Aja Romano

Internet Culture

Posted on Sep 6, 2014   Updated on May 30, 2021, 3:34 pm CDT

After almost a month of harassment allegations, hacking and doxing, cries of corruption, death threats, industry members taking a stand, and gaming journalists reportedly quitting the industry, the woman whose vengeful ex-boyfriend kicked off the gaming scandal of the year may have finally brought GamerGate to a grinding halt.

Earlier today, Zoe Quinn tweeted screencaps, collected in a Storify that has garnered more than 90,000 views, which she claims proves GamerGate was manufactured by members of 4chan operating on a private IRC channel, and created specifically as an attempt to attack her and her supporters because of her feminist views.

The screencaps show the IRC channel users discussing how “to cause infighting and doubt” within the ranks of feminists and “social justice warriors” (SJW)—a phrase that men in the men’s rights movement, anti-feminist subreddits, gaming communities, and 4chan forums have turned into a shorthand for feminists and their supporters.

I guess it’s a good time to mention that I’ve been lurking in & recording 4chan’s raid IRC channels for a few weeks

— Zoë ʻTom-Kunʼ Quinn (@TheQuinnspiracy) September 6, 2014

Quinn, an independent game creator known for the text-based Depression Quest, was accused by her ex, Eron Gjoni, last month of cheating on him with industry insiders and gaming journalists and trading sexual favors for career advancement. 

Though none of the allegations made against her by Gjoni were proven or even sourceable, the community all but imploded in rage directed at Quinn herself, as well as the gaming publications implicated in her ex’s post. As more gaming journalists refused to cover the story due to its personal nature, they too were accused of taking part in a “Quinnspiracy” of gaming journalists who were too ethically compromised to report “the truth” about Quinn.

But it now seems the real “truth” was exactly what journalists declared it was all along: namely that accusations of ethical conflicts in journalism resulting from Quinn’s post were just an excuse to launch a misogynistic attack on Quinn and her supporters. 

The screengrabs come from 4chan and from an IRC chatroom created by 4chan to discuss strategies for attacking Quinn and her supporters during GamerGate. The chatroom is named “Burgers and Fries,” a reference to a joke Gjoni made in his post about the number of men he claimed Quinn had slept with.

It should by now be no surprise at all, to anyone who has followed the tensions over the presence of women in gaming and geek culture over the last few years, that these attacks seem to have been motivated purely by hatred of Quinn as a feminist. Multiple screencaps Quinn took described “SJW shills” as “the enemy.” One user said he looked at the harassment campaign as fighting “a war.” Others discussed the best ways to break into her email and other accounts.

definitely no raids ever happen because of 4chan and I definitely hacked myself mmhmmm

— Zoë ʻTom-Kunʼ Quinn (@TheQuinnspiracy) September 6, 2014

Quinn stated she had compiled the screencaps as part of the police report she was gathering against the 4chan members who allegedly hacked her Tumblr and other social media accounts last month, in retaliation for Gjoni’s post. While none of what Quinn shared in her screengrabs is evidence that the members of the IRC were directly involved in the felony crimes of hacking and doxing her, one screengrab did offer new information.

Quinn revealed that members of the 4chan harassment campaigns were apparently behind the creation of #notyourshield. This was a hashtag that was supposedly about gamers “standing up” against feminism and the way it was overshadowing what they saw as a necessary conversation about gaming. 

In reality, #notyourshield began as yet another tactic for gamers and members of certain 4chan subreddits, namely /v/ and /pol/, to harass and silence women and other feminists in the gaming community who attempted to talk about the harassment Quinn and other women were receiving over GamerGate.

also #notyourshield was purely to deflect when people started calling out #gamergate as misogynistic

— Zoë ʻTom-Kunʼ Quinn (@TheQuinnspiracy) September 6, 2014

@TheQuinnspiracy For the record that is the first recorded use of “NotYourShield” on /v/. In a raid thread.

— Blockhead (@SnackDroid) September 6, 2014

The knowledge that 4chan members planned to shape conversations around GamerGate, that they attempted to dox and hack Quinn’s accounts, and that they successfully manipulated clueless gamers into going along with #notyourshield, is not new to anyone familiar with 4chan.

Here again, Quinn’s screencaps tell us nothing we didn’t already know about the dynamic that exists between 4chan, the gaming community, and the women who attempt to participate in it. But it does provide ample evidence that 4chan and other gamers have no leg to stand on when they try to claim that GamerGate is about something other than a sustained attempt to drive feminists out of the gaming community.

Perhaps the most ironic screengrab is from the IRC user who complains that Quinn is able to raise “an Internet lynch mob” with a flick of her finger. Judging from the last month of women receiving rape and death threats, being driven out of their real and virtual homes, and being harassed into giving up their professions as a result of the controversy, Gamergate was the lynch mob.

Here’s hoping that Quinn’s screengrabs have finally put it to rest.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0) 

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*First Published: Sep 6, 2014, 6:46 pm CDT