On the Zoe Quinn Drama

I know most people have moved on from the Zoe Quinn saga and are focusing on whatever grew out of it, but I felt a bizarre kind of kinship with that mess that I have wanted to share for quite a while, but I’ve been too busy to until now. And this turned out to be good, because further information – which is relevant to this post – has surfaced.

Although I’m going to try to make this post as stand-alone as possible, it’s best if you have read The Zoe Post and this article before going on.

I have a very different take on the whole Zoe Quinn saga than almost all the blogs and articles I’ve read and I think it’s mostly due to some family background: I have a relative, let’s call him “John”, who has been a source of much drama and pain in our family, and who will be central to this post.

How it all started

I first found out about the Quinnspiracy-mess when I read a message which stated something like “The developer of Fez has been hacked”. I knew about Fez, but I didn’t know about Phil Fish. I love indie games, but I don’t particularly care to know about all the individual developers. My initial reaction was something along the line of “Not again..”, and it soon became apparent that Phil Fish had openly been provoking elements which tend to hack when they get provoked. “That was stupid, but I still feel sorry for the guy … but what’s this about that he rallied to support another developer?”. That was the first time I had ever heard of Zoe Quinn.

Awakening

The hacking debacle led me to “waste” a whole Sunday reading about the unfolding Internet soap opera. I found out about Depression Quest, GameJam, The Fine Young Capitalists, Quinn’s tumblr, her twitter, The Zoe Post, and much more. In the beginning I was entirely on Quinn’s side, but The Zoe Post changed that, and it was a pretty painful transformation; it’s not the cheating part which got to me, it’s was everything around it.

What happened as I began reading through The Zoe Post was that I started getting a weird “Hey, I know this”-sensation. It was the John (my relative) mess all over again. (Side-note, I started to severely dislike Phil Fish throughout the day, but that was simply from reading nothing other than the writings of Phil Fish).

So much of what Quinn says and does can be mapped to things John has said and done. How much and casually they lie. The way they lie, the way they handle being caught lying, they way they clumsily try to cover up things, the way they employ incredibly stupid short-term solutions to hide their lies. The way they shift blame. The way they “misremember”. The way they take a little blame only to then masterfully push that blame on to others. The way they cry about how bad they are. How they make being a victim into an art-form.

I can’t go into some of the more identifying specifics now, for reasons I’ll explain, but I could go through so many detailed examples which translate so perfectly to things Zoe Quinn has said and done not only according The Zoe Post and the article on skepticink.com, but also in other stories, including her own blog and her own twitter feed.

Though John has been at it for a longer time, and he has – in a sense – accomplished more (and in one or two cases, worse) pain, drama and suffering, I want to be clear with that he hasn’t directly physically hurt/abused anyone. If it were that simple we would have dragged him to the authorities.

In the core of it, what he has done is exactly what Quinn has done: Lie, lie about lies, lie about lies about lies. Risked getting and spreading STD’s. Made people up. Made events up. Caused people to start second-guessing themselves. Manipulated. Worn down people’s self-esteem. And all of it for his own benefit. Again, just like Quinn.

Déjà Vu Renaissance

The main reason I’m glad that I had to wait to write about this, was because in the meantime the piece which covers Mallorie Nasrallah’s experiences with Zoe Quinn appeared — you would not believe how mind-blown I was when I read it.

First, John has been telling people a completely unsubstantiated tale about having been assaulted and (almost (depending on whether you go by the earlier or later versions of the story)) killing the assailant while defending himself (heroically), and not reporting it to the authorities.

Oh, wait, it gets “better”..

Once we were going on a extended-family vacation, they invited John’s then-girlfriend to come along, but although it was clear she would have loved to join, after a short discussion they all decided that it would be easier if she’d stayed home and take care of their dog. John expressed excited to go and said he couldn’t wait for the trip.

Weeks go by..

Almost literally in the last minute before going to pick John up he called to say that his girlfriend was being “a fucking bitch” (pretty accurate translation from the original language) and didn’t want him to leave, so he would be staying at home. His good-hearted mom, instinctively wanting to believe the best about her son, and wanting to make sure there was nothing bad going on between his girlfriend and them asked if she could speak to her. Oddly enough, she wasn’t able to talk just then. I knew that there was something fishy going on, and told his mom that she should let it go. So we left without him (and had a good vacation, for what it’s worth).

I know it may seem petty to squabble about money, but a hotel reservation had been made – and paid for by his parents – for John, and it was way too late to find anyone else to fill his spot. Had he told someone just a day before .. it would have been tight, but I’m sure we could have found someone to take his place.

When we came back we spoke to John’s girlfriend, and she turned out to have a very different story about what had happened, and she was shocked to find out what he had said; both about the event that took place, and – without us saying it explicitly – what she, roughly, figured out he must have said about her.

To this day I can’t help wonder why he didn’t just tell us he didn’t want to go. We would have been a little disappointed, but accepted it without any drama or complaints. Why throw his girlfriend under the bus like that? With time (these types of things tended to happen around him) I started to realize that it was probably because lying came so easily to him, and blaming others made the whole lying process so much smoother (short-term). This is one of the things his female counterpart, Zoe Quinn, appears to do as well; she lies, and it’s natural for her to use other people as lubricant for her lies.

Stupidity as a tool

The whole thing about Quinn setting up the Rebel Jam to pour money into her personal account is an archtypal John move. It’s not necessarily malice, it may be plain stupidity — but that’s the thing with John, you never really know, because he’s not afraid of pretending to be ignorant/stupid when it suits his needs. Much as Zoe Quinn uses the “broken brain” excuse to not remember certain things when she’s caught in a yet another lie.

Only seen the bright side? Lucky you!

So this is the thing which gets to me: I haven’t really seen anyone, on either side of the argument, address this specific aspect of the story, other than those who are defending Quinn saying “Eron Gjoni says he wants to warn people about Zoe Quinn, but we know that it’s physically impossible for that to be an actual reason and hence the only other alternative is that he’s just acting like a bitter teenager.”.

No. Seriously, no. Some of us in my family, do warn people about John. Though this isn’t the time to go through his entire story, and while he’s done some things which are worse than what Quinn has, his and her modus operandi are more or less identical. Given enough time, I’m as certain as one can be that she’d score some of the drama jack-pots that John has.

The situation differs in that we don’t go public in the same way as Eron Gjoni did, we just warn people who he builds a relationship with. And the reason is sadly enough sentimental: John’s parents are very good people, and, despite being direct victims of his, have tried to do much for John throughout the years, but they aren’t taking all this too well, and they deserve none of it. So for as long as they live, we’ll be spreading it by word-of-mouth rather than to post a public service announcement on the Internet.

The way we go about it is leave John with whatever people he meets, and once they first mention to any of us that they noticed a peculiarity, as they eventually always will, like a little lie which seems slightly odd, then we tell them what they need to know. Having done this a few times, people who haven’t been mistreated by John always say the same thing; they can’t in the beginning understand what we’re saying about him. “He’s such a nice guy”, etc.

This all probably sounds much more formal than it really has been; it’s not like we have plans set up or have meetings, it has grown organically over many years, but certain things repeat themselves and sometime along the line you start feeling like you “know the drill”.

There will come a day when I’ll document some of Johns adventures in very much the same form The Zoe Post exposes Quinn, and believe me when I say that the similarities with the stories about Zoe Quinn are so striking that you will ask the same question as I did: “Does John and Zoe Quinn have the exact same mental problem?”.

I can understand the criticism of the way Eron Gjoni chose to go about it; there are proxy-victims, but at the same time, I can’t fault him for it. It wouldn’t surprise me if there’s some bitterness there which caused him to do it as well, but from where I’m coming, I see so much of John in Quinn, that in the end I truly believe that Gjoni primarily does want to inform people about what kind of person Zoe Quinn is, and not in the “she broke my heart!”-way that the Quinn-apologists in media are portraying it as.

I really hate to be the kind of person who uses this argument, but the way people dismiss Gjoni’s stated motive for The Zoe Post makes me think that none of them have had a drama generating machine like John in their families. And they should be happy for that, because it has taken so much energy to keep up with it, and (attempt to) fix the mess that he causes. On the other hand, the entire lack of such experiences may also be what’s keeping them from even entertaining the idea that Zoe Quinn perhaps is, fundamentally, a person who will treat you like garbage without blinking if it serves her purposes.

Perhaps her new-found exposure will cause her to change to the better, and I sincerely hope that is the case. But there’s also a risk that when so many uncritically and blindly defend her, her mind will register all of this as “a successful strategy which earns me perks”.

They aren’t the same — only almost

One obvious difference between Quinn and John is their gender. Ironically, I think there’s a slightly perverse twist to gender neutrality going on here in the sense that despite being of different genders, John and Quinn are so very much alike in how they treat others. Though the gender difference definitely means that they themselves will be treated differently. Although John has become quite the master at getting new women when he wants (and this happens way too often), and everyone likes him in the beginning (he’s handsome and charming, unfortunately), once we’ve explained the situation to women nowadays, they tend to work their way out of the relationship for their own sanity. (There are some more and less successful stories which I’ll share when the time is right).

Quinn has some perks as a female which John doesn’t have. Guys stick around, give her the benefit of the doubt and defend her because there may be sexual favors for loyalty down the road.

And earning the complete loyalty of the type of women she surrounds herself with is trivial; just make a public speech about feminism, strong women, what a victim of male oppression you are and that any criticism of you must necessarily be due to misogyny, and then you have loyal feminist friends for life. (Although I am a feminist, I feel that there’s a worryingly large amount of religious structures in modern feminism which I don’t like. The immediate sainthood of feminists who say the Right Things™ is one of them).

Despite these differences, their behavior towards others seem to be largely identical (i.e. unaffected by how they are treated back).

Perhaps they mean what they say?

In the beginning of The Zoe Post there’s this:

This exists to warn you to be cautious of Zoe. It is here to paint a portrait of her actual personality. It is here to warn you that she is overwhelmingly likely to do all of those things she makes active efforts to convince you she would never be capable of doing.

After having read the whole thing, that, to me, is the most important paragraph. That is eerily close to what I wrote in a letter about John a few years ago.

And yes, of course there’s the remote possibility that everything written about Zoe Quinn is made up. I’m going to give Mallorie Nasrallah and, in particular, Eron Gjoni the benefit of the doubt, because not only does everything they’ve written about Quinn fit way too perfectly with the personality of John to be entirely made up, but also because I see John’s archetypal bizarre logic and professional victimhood in Quinn’s own writing.

Zoe Quinn as a Role Model

Looking at this from a wider perspective, I can get that people are upset about how Quinn is being treated; she has been getting a lot of shit and no one deserves having an Internet hate-army come knocking at one’s door (almost literally). We went through a period where we gave John the “you piece of shit”-treatment — not planned but rather since everything else had failed it kind of grew out of frustration. This “call him a piece of shit” strategy worked surprisingly bad; not only did it not change anything about how he treated others, but he also stopped answering his phone and opening the door for a while.

Speaking of being the target of Internet rage; Quinn proclaimed herself to be the “the most hated person on the Internet” in an article. If I were the most hated person on the Internet — I wouldn’t poke at the hornets’ nest further, I would go about my business, and I wouldn’t go out of my way to make the problem worse. Though I guess Quinn is just doing what a professional victim does; tries to stay in the spotlight of rage as much as possible in order to get more attention, maximizing the victimhood.

I can understand skepticism against some, or even most, of the claims made about Quinn — but there has to be a point at which you think to yourself, “While I don’t believe all of it, it’s at least highly likely that some of it is true. No sane person would go through all the trouble to make up all of this, let alone multiple people having different stories, but with striking similarities with regards to her personality.”. Surely at some point you have to start wondering if she’s really completely innocent; and I’m not talking about the infidelity, that’s the least relevant part, I’m talking about the all the other types of personality quirks I’ve been writing about in this post.

Vapid

I have seen/heard Quinn be used as an example of “women in game development”, and once even be used in the context of “a positive role model for women who want to get into game development”. This is truly a bizarre proposition, and it’s an affront to real female developers; and there are plenty of them, many you haven’t heard about — not because of any kind of oppression; but rather because they just want to develop games, not be icons.

Don’t get me wrong; there are lots of people who are seriously screwed up but who do good things (John is very good at very shallow relations with people, and is very good with tech, but is extraordinary bad at having real, honest and balanced relationships with people). Eron Gjoni has stated that Quinn has talents which are relevant to game creation, and I’m going to trust him on that, but I wish she would put that talent to use; I’m sure that if she stops being a professional victim and instead puts all the energy into actually making games, she can do good for the gaming community/industry. So far, I have yet to see her doing anything of value. (And yes, I have played Depression Quest). Currently Zoe Quinn is no more than the Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian of the gaming world.

All of those of you who are parents, can any of you honestly say that you want your children to look to Zoe Quinn as a role model? Professionally, personally, as a woman? If you say “yes”, I honestly think you’re lying, you’re unsuitable as parents or you’re terminally naive.

Bad for feminism

Zoe Quinn is the kind of feminist who I think is doing feminism a major disservice; she uses feminism as a shield to protect her erratic and down-right bizarre behavior against criticism. Whenever she screws up, it’s the fault of men who hate her because she’s a “strong and successful” woman and is smashing down the wall of male tyranny, or some other romanticized fantasy. She makes false accusations against others, but no one is allowed to call her out on her bullshit. Because feminism.

We need strong women who are actually accomplished to represent feminism.

Understanding the relationships with John

This section is for those of you who read this far and are thinking “Why don’t you just forsake John?” and “He seems absolutely evil, like a psychopath, turn him in for psychiatric care!”.

It’s far more complicated than that. We can’t force him to seek help, and we’ve on occasion tried to get him to talk to someone. We thought we had some success once, but ended up finding out that he had lied about it, of course.

Here’s the thing.. Most of the time we love him; like I wrote earlier, he’s very charming, he’s intelligent and he kind of gives the false impression that he’s compassionate, which makes him likeable in a strange way. He truly loves animals; he would never hurt a cat or a dog, if all he had to do was to care for a pet, he’d be one of the best people in the world. That vacation I mentioned earlier, we really wanted him to go with us, because – like I said – most of the time he’s not a wandering drama generator. And we have family photo albums of vacation pictures where we all had a terrific time and he was an absolute delight.

He has been in a few somewhat long relationships, and a few times (like with the woman with whom he had a dog) we thought he’d found “the right woman” and I guess in a fit of romantic stupidity thought that “love had cured him”. Yes, I realize how pathetic that sounds, but you kind of hold on to hope.

And despite the way I have portrayed him, he is a human. Sometimes he cries. I suspect almost always just doing it to manipulate us, but regardless — sometimes I’m sure it has been real, and seeing someone you love cry and tell you that they hate themselves will get to you sooner or later.

This will also answer those of you who ask why, if Zoe Quinn is so bad, are so many people hanging out with her and say there’s nothing wrong with her? I suspect it’s the same thing — most of the time she’s a jumpin’ happy girl. Until she wants to do something which basic empathy, morality and common sense of decency would stop a normal person from doing.

Sociopath + Sociopath = Success?

I can’t know if everything written about Zoe Quinn is true, but you need to follow the evidence, and all the evidence points to her being a liar, and Eron Gjoni telling the truth in this matter. Furthermore, anyone can read Quinn’s social media entries, and if you dig around you’ll pretty quickly find that she does lie openly, big lies, with ease. Until someone can actually disprove what Gjoni has said, I’m going to stick with his version of events, and by proxy I’m going to give Mallorie Nasrallah the benefit of the doubt, because those puzzle pieces fit right in with the rest of the Zoe Quinn puzzle. And so much about her is .. John.

So, assuming for a moment that what has been written and reported about Zoe Quinn is true, I can’t help wonder what would happen if Zoe Quinn and John would have a relationship. Apart from the entire world getting destroyed due to the violent vortex of lies around them — I wonder if they could find happiness together? They definitely deserve each other.

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17 thoughts on “On the Zoe Quinn Drama

  1. Try hooking them up. We can take bets on who screws the other over first.

    Actually, that’s an interesting thing. How long can two people primarily lie to one another before their interpersonal communications become entirely incoherent?

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    1. Yeah; I was kind of thinking along the line “How would their relationship look if both are fully aware of that the other person is playing the same game as themselves.”. After a while, completely benign lines as “I’m going to the store to buy some breakfast for tomorrow” has got to be torture; they’d need to parse it to absurdum, and try to figure out “Why would *I* say something like that?”. They’d be prisoners in their own jail.

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      1. That’s the thing with mythomania. They actually believe their lies as a defense mechanism. She didn’t sabotage TFYC, she rightfully questionned their shady ethics. At least that’s the rethoric she’ll hold on to her dear life. Cause awknoledging otherwise qould shatter her rethoric. Hence why she attacked them so aggressively and then held on to the idea that she merely had sent about 4 questions their way.

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      2. caca1,

        I couldn’t agree more; her attack on TFYC is a rather bizarre episode which is worth of an in-depth post of its own. The ball is kind of in her court, though. She claims to have emails which shows how bad TFYC are, and she’s promised to give them to any journalist who would responsibly handle the information and report on it appropriately. Why hasn’t this happened? She’s been caught lying so many times in this mess that it’s in her best interest to be proven right about at least one thing.

        I obviously don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes, but if I had only one guess to paint a scenario my money would be on something like this: I don’t think she has any truly incriminating emails. She was hoping to be able to take phrases out of context, cut’n’paste the emails to discredit TFYC — but she couldn’t do it herself, so she wanted a “professional” to do it for her. Upon inspection, people have either found the “evidence” to be too weak, or informed her that TFYC have the emails too, and would be able to put the phrases into context.

        It’s difficult to believe that if such incriminating evidence existed, that it hadn’t been widely published yet.

        Time will tell I guess.

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  2. I’m really tempted to tell my own story to you guys, but it’s too long, and I can’t risk it getting public for various reasons. I’ve been trying, trying to make people aware of the abuse angle, and it breaks my heart to see people I like siding blindly with ZQ. People I know she can use and abuse.

    I can’t be as charitable to the online social justice phenomenon as Eron. To an opportunist like ZQ, it’s a fantastic enabler. I see it working on them like a drug, making them addicted and crazy. My relation wasn’t nearly as bad as “John” or Zoe, but I don’t like to think about what they’d be like if they had found something like this.

    It’s institutional. When someone decides to follow something like the “Rules for Radicals” that Eron posted, they’ve forsworn honesty and embraced an ends justifies the means approach. I’ve seen this attitude so many times. You get taken to task not because they disagree that your objections have merit, but because you’re giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Couple that with social justice’s tendencies to demand more or less blind acceptance of oppressed groups’ view of things, and you have a recipe for disaster.

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  3. “Quinn has some perks as a female which John doesn’t have. Guys stick around, give her the benefit of the doubt and defend her because there may be sexual favors for loyalty down the road.”

    While I think it’s true that guys stick around and give her the benefit of the doubt, I’m skeptical that their motive is the potential for future sexual perks. I think it’s more a matter of the circles she runs in, where the majority of men are either relatively young humanities/arts graduates still drunk on the sort of feminism that runs rampant in those areas of academia these days, or older men who’ve been embroiled in a similar ideological environment where such ideas are permitted to persist through epistemic closure. Such men tend to hold two diametrically opposed notions at once; firstly, that women are equal to men in all ways and entirely capable of heading up the biggest companies in the world, and filling half the ranks on the way up (something with which I heartily agree) – secondly, though, they tend to view women as a minority (we are not a “minority” and never have been) that is and oppressed victim class worthy of exceptions, aids, handouts and forgiveness for terrible behaviours. These men are the ones who, while being a “white, cis-het male” will gladly use their pedestal to denigrate the same. I think this behaviour is explained very well in this very-long-but-totally-worth-it post by Scott Alexander: http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/09/30/i-can-tolerate-anything-except-the-outgroup/

    There is also, of course, the opportunity for us to imagine the reversal of gender in this situation. To imagine that “The Zoe Post” was in fact “The Eron Post”, and that the Eron post detailed the same behaviours as did the Zoe post, with the roles reversed. If Zoe Quinn had posted the long breakdown of personal experience with a guy who had cheated on her, manipulated her and lied about her, she would have been lauded for her “warning” to other women in an industry where women are “regularly harassed” (quotes intentional).

    I’m a proponent of #GamerGate, and I do agree that the ZQ fiasco (and the fallout thereof, where her friends “in power” (again – quotes intentional) came to her aid by proclaiming gamers dead) was one of the seeds that started it but should not be a main focus. Having said that, I think that people’s desperation to separate GamerGate from ZQ has led to a ripe feeding ground for a handful of the journalists originally involved, as well as a handful of hard-left feminist journalists, to come along and continue to proclaim ZQ a victim and the crux of GamerGate – but I suppose that is unfortunately unavoidable when you are dealing with the sort of person who can perform enough mental acrobatics to see women at once as empowered agent and victimised child.

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    1. SorryNotSorry,

      I should have phrased that in a different way; I meant it more in the sense of “biological instincts/urges” – it’s not an explicit mental choice to hope for sexual favors which keeps them around, but it’s a kickstarter for the social layer. Looking at it from the perspective of what’s going on on a social level, I couldn’t agree more. Like I wrote in the post, there’s a new kind of religious feminism which is poisoning the more functional and rational feminism I grew to love a long time ago.

      What’s the source of that poison? You may have nailed it with: “young humanities/arts graduates still drunk on the sort of feminism that runs rampant in those areas of academia these days”. I feel that the feminism I knew 20 years ago has been co-opted; and it hasn’t been improved.

      Thank you for the link to Scott Alexander’s article, I started reading it and I can already tell that I think it’s Recommended Reading.

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      1. Thanks for the response! The article I linked really is very good.

        I feel you a far as feminism goes. Personally, I’ve dropped the label altogether. I abhor some of the extremes of feminism as much as I abhor the extremes of the MRA movement – or any movement, for that matter. The difference I perceive with feminism in particular is the sheer size of the platform these extremists are now given to state any number of myths as fact. But I digress. Have a good day 🙂

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      2. Yeah, don’t get me started on MRA.. But I have to say I agree with you (again); perhaps it’s time to drop the feminist label. I used to think that these extreme winds would simply blow by and we’d go back to be more interested in action rather than rhetoric, but it kind of looks like we’re being pushed aside.

        It used to be about making structural changes, but nowadays its more about portraying feminism as one side of a war, and we’re being rallied to fight the good fight by calling our enemies “misogynists” at every disagreement.

        Frankly speaking; what we used to do worked, there was progress – not always as rapid progress as we would have wanted, but that’s something to worked on. But now the MRM is growing stronger, and the rhetoric is more vile than ever. And honestly I feel that we’re no longer making the progress we used to, and some groups seem reluctant to talk to us. Perhaps this is what these new feminists want?

        I miss the “old” days; like 10-15 years ago. The feminist group I have supported and worked in for many years from time to time set up a talks with local companies and schools about issues we felt weren’t being discussed enough. We’d always make sure that these meetings were held by two people from us; a man and a woman. There was a little kind of dorky symbolism in it, but I think it was appreciated. Two years ago or so we were setting up such a meeting, and one of our newest members (one of these new firebrand feminists) decided that what we’d been doing all this time was “showing that women need men present when they talk to organizations”, so the informal rule of “one man and one woman” was taken away, and two women went that time instead.

        I guess that’s the kind of thing that happens when you actively want confrontation, and you want to see oppression everywhere.

        To be fair, most people who work with within the group haven’t bought into this “war”-like feminism, so I’m going to stick with them for the time being. Perhaps I’ll tell them I want to continue working on the issues, but that I’m no longer comfortable using the “feminist” label, and see if I can provoke a discussion about what these firebrands are doing to our group.

        Thank you for the feedback; and you have a good day/evening/night, whatever it is where you live. 🙂

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    2. ” I’m skeptical that their motive is the potential for future sexual perks. ”

      You must not be a dude. Many men, who may be classified as “Beta Males”, do things for this exact reason. I’ve seen it. Hell, in my teenage days, I did this. Sad really. Glad I grew out of it.

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  4. Good article. I have a “John” in my life too – my mother. It’s been two years since I’ve seen her, and I don’t think I ever will until someone in the family dies and I have to attend a funeral with her there. Her strange logic, perpetual victimhood, random rage (anything could set her off to the point of stomping around the house, slamming doors, screaming – growing up around this you learn to be a Good Kid, unflinchingly agreeable), and the need to break down my self esteem. Like you said in the article, if it had been physical abuse, well then that would have been easy (in a sense). I might not feel guilty for cutting off contact with her. I wouldn’t be questioning myself – am I overreacting? Was it “real” abuse? Then you get the people who say “well she’s still your mom” when you tell them you are no contact. They don’t understand it. And it’s difficult to explain it to people because a memory that is hard for me seems silly to other people, all because they don’t have my 17 years of context.

    When I read thezoepost I had a similar response to you. It looked eerily similar to my mom’s behaviour, and I think only until you have had such a person in your life can you recognize the warning signs. Ever since I moved away at 17 and cut off contact with my mom, no one on her side of the family talks to me any more. I lost relationships with my grandparents, my cousins, my uncle and aunt. I’ve had the urge to warn them, to tell them my side of events, but I always talk myself out of it. I understand why Eron wrote thezoepost, and I think all emotional abuse survivors know that feeling. As survivors it is our right to own our stories, and own what happened. I hope you and Eron can find some peace.

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    1. I just want to make it clear that I haven’t been a direct victim of “John”. Well, depending on how you see it, I guess. I’m a part of his (extended) family, but we’re all very close; we’ve helped each other out like any close family would. I have been caught in his web of lies a few times, and he has tried to manipulate me (as he does with everyone sooner or later) but he hasn’t targeted me directly with any of his attempts to sow distrust and make me second-guess myself. I don’t think there’s anything he could say about another person, or event involving another person, which I would trust. In RPG terms, I guess you could argue that I am “Invulnerable to his known attacks”.

      In his mind, the population can mostly be separated into “friends” and “foes”, and as far as that goes I’m mostly a “friend”. His parents are more complicated, he gets into periods where he can be cruel to them — not overtly though, he starts playing the victim-card in order to make them feel bad about themselves. And no amount of me telling them that it’s entirely his problem will completely heal the emotional wounds he inflicts on them.

      When he determines someone to be a “foe”, he’ll start searching for new reasons to treat them like enemies (again, Quinn and how she handled The Fine Young Capitalists comes to mind). It’s like there’s no in-between; no gray areas.

      My involvement in this mess of a situation has mostly been to help Johns parents to cope and talk to people who have either been victims of his abuse or have started to get to know him (and are at the risk of becoming victims).

      There was a time many years back when a woman who clearly had loved him a lot, and at the time probably still did, was crying and asked us “Why did he treat me this way? Why did he say these things about me? What did I do wrong?” (Ugh. Still feels like a punch to the stomach to think about). At that moment I would have given a lot to be able to show her The Zoe Post and tell her “there are others like John; it’s definitely not you”. And that’s one of the reasons I’m so thankful to Eron Gjoni for posting what he did (which in turn sparked me to write my post); it can help victims to see that it’s not their fault, even when their abusers are very good at what they do.

      Much of my life has been wasted because of John, so many long talks, so many sleepless nights worrying about how to resolve situations. If there was illegal to waste too much of people’s precious time on this planet, I think abusers would pretty quickly fill up the prisons.

      With regards to your situation: That’s another thing which I don’t think people outside understand about abusive relationships; there’s a much larger dynamic at play. Through the manipulative nature of abusers, your family and friends can start to break up, and people start to mistrust each other, and completely random new dramas start to pop up.

      John’s parents have on occasion apologized to me and a few of my relatives, and said they’d understand if we moved away to get away from it all, but they have been so good to our entire family that we could never do that to them. Whatever time they have left, we’ll be there for them. It guess we at least have that. But I’d by lying if I said I hadn’t thought about cutting ties like you did. There are no easy answers, no right answers, unfortunately.

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  5. Hello. I was linked to your blog via a #GG tweet. I’m not a feminist or a social justice activist. I’m just a guy who is a gamer who tries to treat people decently. I’ve been following all of this since the Wizardchan incident. Lately I’ve been overcome with anxiety and a growing sense of dread. Reading things like http://theflounce.com/harassment-abuse-apologism-sanitizing-abuse-social-justice-spheres/ has only increased that as #GG has worn on.

    I don’t like that what looks to me like an extreme ideology has co-opted my hobby and the implications that has to me. The kinds of people in the middle of this mess terrify me in a way I can’t articulate. Should I be afraid? Am I on the wrong side of some big imminent societal shift that “they” keep spouting about?

    I’m just looking for some piece of mind from people who may understand this better than I do.

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    1. I’ve been writing about things which don’t really concern GamerGate; what I wanted to do was to write about my experiences having to do with someone who appears to be very much like Zoe Quinn, and at the same time criticize people/media for ignoring Eron Gjoni’s stated goal of The Zoe Post.

      With that being said; I don’t think you really need to worry in the short term. There may be some changes, but nothing which will ruin your hobby, so to speak. There’s too much money in the current game formats to radically change them. If there will be changes it’ll be gradual, and if it doesn’t work then the market will resist the changes by not paying for them, forcing the developers to go back to what worked.

      For me, games are fantasy land. They are violent, they have idealized heroes (both men and women), have environments which are so beautiful that you’ll never be able to find anything quite like it in the real world. They are mechanisms which are literally for escaping the drudges of reality for a while. That’s why I don’t care too much about the idealized characters and such in games. There are many more, and more important, real-world equality problems to combat. I don’t really think that it’s much of a real-world occurrence in society that people who play games look at the game characters for role models.

      Finally, if you look at what non-hotbrand feminists want to do with gaming, I think you’ll find most of it agreeable. So if you feel like going out and fighting against changes in games, remember that not all feminists want to radically alter your hobby. Some of us just want some minor adjustments. 🙂

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      1. Thank you for replying. I realized your post was only tangentially connected to GG, I just find it scary manipulative people can gain so much power. I’ve been feeling the need to reach out to anyone who may have more understanding of any part of this mess than my limited perspective provides. You sharing your perspective helps. Again, thank you.

        I don’t want to paint all feminists and social justice activists with the same broad brush. I’ve encountered good people who identify as each. It’s just I’ve encountered a lot of bad eggs too, and they are very loud, have a lot of people defending them and have what seems like a lot of pull in things that are important to me. I could get behind more diversity in who plays and makes games, who’s represented by characters in them, and I’m not opposed to people exploring what a game can be. I’m just afraid of censorship and a small clique deciding what is “diverse” and “correct” and hypocritically pressuring creators to conform. I just want the Gone Home’s and GTA’s to be able to co-exist. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Well said; “I just want the Gone Home’s and GTA’s to be able to co-exist.” is exactly how I, and everyone I know, feels. There needs to be room for both. And anyone saying there must only be one type of games is feeding the MRM.

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