Women in tech get harassed for all sorts of idiotic reasons, mainly because the world, and perhaps tech in particular, seems overstuffed with misogynist creeps. To the list of Things That Excite Misogynist Ire, I regret to relay, from a sharp report by Simon Parkin at The New Yorker, that you can add “You’re a woman who helped create a clever fictive online game about being depressed”:
The reason Quinn was targeted varies, depending on whom you ask, but most explanations lead to Depression Quest, a free interactive fiction game released in 2013. To date, it has been played more than a million times. The game, created by Quinn, the writer Patrick Lindsey, and the musician Isaac Schankler, casts its player as a young adult suffering from depression. The story is told through snippets of text which, combined, total forty thousand words, bookended with ostensibly straightforward decisions for the player. Will you work at your desk or retreat to bed? Will you attend the party or remain at home? The choices appear mundane, but the protagonist, slowed by depression’s fug, finds each one to be tremendously burdensome. For example, some options, such as choosing to “enthusiastically socialize” at a party, are grayed out, forcing the player’s hand. The hate mail began to arrive on “pretty much the same day” as the game’s release, Quinn told me.
I find Parkin’s post both uplifting and depressing — the former because of Quinn’s splendid ingenuity; the latter because of her harassers’ stupid, bullheaded virulence. This online menacing of women is, alas, no longer surprising, as it’s become incessant. But it’s still shocking and execrable.
Simon Parkin reports at Zoe Quinn’s Depression Quest.
Quinn’s Depression Quest game. You can play for free, but I encourage you to hit the “Pay What You Want” button.