Do you remember when #GamerGate was young? You know, back before #NotYourShield and Vivian James and bizarrely complicated conspiracy theories involving Gawker, Weird Twitter and some sort of international Jewish conspiracy?
Remember when #GamerGate was still called #BurgersAndFries, and the angry gamebro army was focused on the real enemy of all that is good and true – a young game designer by the name of Zoe Quinn?
If you’ve been feeling nostalgic for those good old days, you’re in luck. A sprawling blog post by a female friend of Quinn’s obsessive, accusatory ex-boyfriend Eron Gjoni takes us back to the dog days of August when his even more sprawling thezoepost was unleashed upon the world.
Rachel M, who describes herself as an “engineer, designer, accidental writer,” recalls the months she spent with Gjoni as he began to process his breakup with Quinn and marshal his arguments against her. She was there when he posted thezoepost, making her a sort of midwife of what became #GamerGate.
It’s no secret whose side of this controversy she’s on. Her depictions of Gjoni are written with affection and indulgence; her portrayal of Quinn is brutal and a step or two beyond unfair. When Rachel M pretends for a moment that she’s not “someone with an ax to grind against Zoe,” that’s because her little hatchet is already buried in Quinn’s back.
If there is a point to GamerGate Launched in My Apartment, and, Internet, I’m Sorry (Not that sorry) beyond making Gjoni look angelic and Quinn look like a demon, I’m not sure what it is.
After presenting us with a series of uninteresting and unnecessary details of her own life, Rachel M repeats a number of largely discredited myths about Quinn and even seems to have made up a new myth of her own, accusing Quinn of “telling Eron she believed I was lying about my PTSD” in an online chat.
Never mind that the chat log itself, which Gjoni pasted into his zoepost, and which Rachel M also pasted into an earlier post of her own, suggests that Quinn was dubious not about Rachel M’s medical diagnoses but about Rachel’s intentions towards her then-boyfriend.
As I searched through the screenshots on Eron’s site to see if Rachel M’s recollections of this exchange matched the evidence, I was struck again by the utter surreality of #BurgersAndFries and its successor #GamerGate.
Because, the thing is, I don’t want to be reading these chat logs. I shouldn’t be reading these chat logs. These are private moments between two people at a vulnerable moment in both of their lives. They shouldn’t have been posted on the internet in an act of petty revenge against an ex-girlfriend. They shouldnt’ be on the internet at all.
The fact that the details of Zoe Quinn and Eron Gjoni’s sex lives and their messy breakup are so central to the conflicts now roiling the video game world that I have to turn to these screenshots to fact check this post is weird and wrong and rather depressing. Zoe Quinn isn’t the president, caught pantsless in flagrante delicto with a Haliburton lobbyist. She’s a video game developer, and the details of her sexual history are none of our fucking business.
None of this matters much to Rachel M, who seems to have become trapped in Gjoni’s reality distortion field, borrowing some of his narcissism for herself. She describes Gjoni’s decision to “go public” with the ugly details of his breakup with Quinn and her various alleged infidelities and lies:
Eron talked about going public. He talked about panic, about awareness, about making sure that people knew what they were getting into, about taking a hit – there’d be a hit, for speaking publicly against a woman in any field, but especially against a woman with Zoe’s position and friends in progressive indie gaming – for the good of all, eventually.
This is so perverse and backwards and wrong it’s hard not to wonder if Gj himself wrote it.
He talked about evaluating the risk to his current job, his future jobs, his family, himself. You know, whether he’d get stalked or murdered for this. He talked about the danger to Zoe, about how he could minimize personal harm toward her, whether he could effectively defray harassment towards her.
Well, he did a bangup job of that, huh?
He settled on a few plans toward that end, and decided the risk to himself was worth it. Even the total loss cases for him still meant greater than zero public knowledge about Zoe’s manipulative behavior, her role as an abuser, and the number of lies she’d told. Anything was better than the way it was now.
Really? Because for a lot of people, not just Quinn, things have gotten a lot worse since Gjoni launched his attack against his ex.
Rachel M is actually quite aware of this; indeed, she notes explicitly that the movement that was born out of Gjoni’s long post has directed much of its fury towards women.
Zoe received floods of hate and threats within hours of the post going live. Anita Sarkeesian, a feminist media critic, was forced to cancel a speech at USU after receiving death threats referencing the École Polytechnique Massacre … Brianna Wu, Liana K, and anyone who identifies as a feminist within gaming — they’ve been getting smeared.
Women in games, creators and critics alike, are working through a tide of hate that’s reached the front page of the New York Times. Each new story makes me a little sicker.
Yet somehow she’s still “not that sorry” she helped Gjoni to launch the movement that caused all this. She thinks it’s all somehow … good for women. Because people now know what she thinks is the truth about Zoe Quinn. She ends her post with these bizarre assertions:
I want more women in tech and media, at all levels—in development, in journalism, in the games and books and comics themselves.
I want those women to be as safe, respected, creative, and supported as any man, and I do not want them unprepared in an industry with Zoe Quinn.
And this, I guess, is how someone who helped Gjoni to usher in a hateful, spiteful, reactionary “movement” that has left numerous women fearing for their lives convinces herself that she’s on the side of the angels after all.
EDIT: I corrected Rachel M’s name. No idea why my brain turned her name into Sarah.