Her book seeks to change this narrative — in part by de-centering Quinn's own experience with Gamergate. Quinn recounts the night the harassment started, when she was out or dinner with friends and then-boyfriend Alex Lifshitz. She tried to keep the conversation going even as waves of hatred began flooding her social media notifications. She talks about trying to report the abuse to police departments, only to find officers barely understood what the internet was, let alone Twitter. But the story quickly moves from Quinn's personal experiences to talk about her work with Lifshitz founding Crash Override, a small, pro-bono support group for people dealing with online abuse and harassment.
This is not to say that Quinn’s experiences haven’t been harrowing. But she is acutely aware of all the ways that her personal story now represents a collective problem. "There's no way my story could be emblematic of every single person's story,” she notes.
To try to give a broader picture of online abuse and harassment, Quinn includes extensive quotes from people like transgender feminist sociologist Katherine Cross and journalist Tauriq Moosa, whose stories of online abuse and harassment are less well known.
Quinn also works hard to show readers how online abuse unfolds. This, she argues, is a communal problem — with a community-based solution. "The No. 1 thing I've seen actually help with online abuse,” she said, “is when the person has a good community or a strong support network that's savvy and that can help them."
Help in this context can mean deleting abusive messages, changing passwords, contacting authorities or just providing emotional support. Some people are more prepared than others. "There are some groups and communities that have protocols in place," Quinn said. "Oh, this person is getting attacked, let’s fill their Twitter mentions with this thing that they like — because we've talked about this ahead of time and we know what to do."
Online harassers try to isolate their targets — to make them so toxic that people will be afraid to get close to the blast radius. Surviving this type of harassment means refusing to give in to the isolation. Quinn’s work with Crash Override and fellow Gamergate targets like Anita Sarkeesian is part of this strategy. But starting to take back her professional and artistic agency is also a way to show the trolls she hasn’t been silenced.
"These people wanted me to shut up and go away forever,” Quinn said, “so that's the opposite of what I'm doing."
She's already thinking about her next game.
Noah Berlatsky is a freelance writer. He edits the online comics-and-culture website The Hooded Utilitarian and is the author of the book "Wonder Woman: Bondage and Feminism in the Marston/Peter Comics, 1941-1948."