Number blurred out to protect the not so innocent.
I’ve said my piece about my personal life and that holds true. I have zero interest in ever discussing my sex or love life publicly on other people’s terms. If you want answers about the particulars of a game developer’s private romantic entanglements, please ask yourself why you feel entitled to such a thing. As far as I’m concerned, the only people who have any business in knowing these things are the people they actually effect - and my current partner is aware.
Professionally, I feel like there are some things I can easily address though, now that things have begun to calm down.
Regarding the claim that I have exchanged sex for positive reviews. This has been investigated and debunked, and oh right, the review in question doesn’t even exist. Anything else written by Nathan in 2014, before we started dating, in which I am vaguely, tangentially mentioned at all has been the same tone and coverage as everyone else who covered it. There is no corruption issue here - if there was, you’d think there’d be some talk of massive AAA companies flying out and wining and dining games journalists rather than discussion of Phil Fish’s relationships. (warning: all of these links are screenshots and there’s a small sampling of the smorgasbord of fucked up shit in them) It’s almost like this whole scandal only blew up for reasons other than "corruption".
Regarding the claim that I doxxed and destroyed The Fine Young Capitalists, that is also incorrect. You can read that here in their own words. I know that when things kick up online it can be hard to sort out who did what, but aside from their own statement, there is zero evidence of this. What I did do was be critical of some of their policies on twitter, because as someone who has taught women game design and created programs to help them get started making their first games I get really passionate about this stuff. We have different approaches but share the same wish to get women involved with game development, and I wish them the best of luck in accomplishing that. Rebel Jam is not one of these programs and was totally unrelated to anything having to do with TFYC and came as a reaction to everything that was wrong about Game_Jam - but I will have some really exciting things to announce soon about it that I’ve been holding in for a while until paperwork clears and red tape is cut. Stay tuned.
Regarding the claim that I am the head of a massive conspiracy that is able to censor and shut down all major games press sites, 4chan, reddit, and god knows what else, I WISH that was true. God how cool would that be? A shadowy overlord of the internet, who is also kind of a cyborg? Shit that would be a good story. But that’s all it is - a story. Occam’s razor is still a thing. What is more likely, the pulp story of a lone woman manipulating the entire internet or that maybe, JUST MAYBE, other people can recognize this for the TMZ style bullshit it really is?
If you have any further concerns about what I stand for or if my role in the industry has been one for the betterment of other people, despite releasing a game pushing back against the stigma of mental illness for free on the biggest digital distribution platform, creating guides and programs to make game development more accessible to people of traditionally discouraged backgrounds, standing up for the image of future of indie games even at risk of getting sued back into the stone age, fighting for a better games culture where developers don’t have to fear consumers, experimenting with new formats of distributing free games, helping organize queer-friendly game jams; then I encourage you to watch me in the coming months. I am going to continue trying to break down barriers and disrupt the culture that enabled the abuse I’ve endured from the last two weeks from ever happening to anyone ever again. No more Phil Fishes. No more Anita Sarkeesians. No more Zoe Quinns. No more of the less known, less extreme cases where we don’t even notice or hear the voices disappearing. No more developers living in fear, afraid to speak their minds, afraid to be people, wondering when they might be next. This has always been my MO, this will continue to be so. I am going to keep doing what I do, I’m going to keep being a human with all the flaws and moments of brilliance that come with that, and hopefully I can work towards these goals with some level of effectiveness.
Time to get back to work. I love you all.
Ok, let’s try this again.
This has nothing to do with games and is not a matter of legitimate public interest, but is simply a personal matter. I would hope and request that the games press be respectful of what IS a personal matter, and not news, and not about games. This is explicitly about my private life, which has been regrettably forced into the public and framed by people who pose a threat to my safety and well being as well as that of the people I love. I would hope that the effort people have gone through to dress it up as anything more would not be enough to have those who see it for what it is take the bait.
I am not going to link to, or address anything having to do with the validity of the specific claims made by an angry ex-boyfriend with an axe to grind and a desire to use 4chan as his own personal army. This is not a “she-said” to his “he-said”. The idea that I am required to debunk a manifesto of my sexual past written by an openly malicious ex-boyfriend in order to continue participating in this industry is horrifying, and I won’t do it. It’s a personal matter that never should have been made public, and I don’t want to delve into personal shit, mine or anyone else’s, while saying that people’s love and sex lives are no one’s business. I’m not going to talk about it. I will never talk about it. It is not your goddamned business.
What I *am* going to say is that the proliferation of nude pictures of me, death threats, vandalization, doxxing of my trans friends for having the audacity to converse with me publicly, harassment of friends and family and my friends’ family in addition to TOTALLY UNRELATED PEOPLE, sending my home address around, rape threats, memes about me being a whore, pressures to kill myself, slurs of every variety, fucking debates over what my genitals smell like, vultures trying to make money off of youtube videos about it, all of these things are inexcusable and will continue to happen to women until this culture changes. I’m certainly not the first. I wish I could be the last.
Because I’ve had a small degree of success in a specific subculture, every aspect of my life is suddenly a matter of public concern. Suddenly it’s acceptable to share pictures of my breasts on social media to threaten and punish me. Suddenly I don’t have any right to privacy or basic dignity. Suddenly I don’t get to live out normal parts of life, like going through a bad and ugly breakup in private. I have forfeited this by being a blip in a small community, while those who delight in assailing me hide behind their keyboards and a culture that permits it, beyond reproach.
My life and my body are not public property. No one’s life and body are public property.
Sexuality is one of the most personal, hurtful, and easy things to demonize a woman over, and also has nothing to do with my games. Yet large swaths of the gaming community are either unable or unwilling to separate the two. I’m convinced that my ex chose 4chan as the staging ground for his campaign of harassment and character assassination because he knew this; he knew that someone claiming to be “from the Internet” has shown up at my house once already, and he is counting on the most reviled hubs of our community to live up to their sordid reputations. This is another example of gendered violence, whereby my personal life becomes a means to punish my professional credentials and to try to shame me into giving up my work. I’m still committed to doing my small part to create a world where no woman is at risk of experiencing this. That said, I am thankful that even boards with a reputation for being the most hostile places online have been able to tell the intent behind these threads and banned them outright, seeing the hate speech for what it is, and not-news for what it is.
As much as those leading the charge against me will do mental backflips to make posting pictures of my tits about “ethics”, the real agenda is plain as day if you give it even a moment of sincere critical thought. No one who would terrorize someone and the totally uninvolved people they love in this way on such a massive and public scale could ever honestly claim to be interested in “ethics” of any kind. These kinds of accusations have been levied against any woman of status in any industry, ever. I have been judged because, if you are a woman, you are expected to constantly “prove” yourself, and even mere accusations can somehow undo all the good you’ve done and justify any measure of depraved brutality against you. Meanwhile, I see major support thrown the way of my male colleagues when they are accused of any sort of wrongdoing. Neither of these attitudes is correct, and they are patently unfair and reductive. Nobody exists in a vacuum, and anyone can change and grow into a better person. Heroes and villains don’t exist - just regular boring-ass people with scars and fuckups and moments of brilliance. And every single boring-ass person deserves the space to keep personal matters private and handled outside the shark tank of anonymous internet boards.
Once again, I will not be addressing the specific validity of any statements about my private life. If you have good-faith questions or doubts, I am more than happy to discuss private matters in private, where they belong. But I refuse to be coerced into making my private life or anyone’s private life a matter of public record, and I refuse to be continually emotionally terrorized by people who have long decided to hate me regardless.
I’m looking forward to moving on and getting back to work. To anyone else who has had to deal with this kind of indignity on any scale, you have my undying support and my ear if you ever want to talk to someone who might understand. To the people who support my work and can see this crusade for what it is, thank you from the bottom of my heart. To those people, I love you, I always have, and I always will.
After a long uphill battle since getting Greenlit in January, Depression Quest was planned to, and approved for, launch on Steam today. Literally minutes after we got the notification, beloved actor Robin Williams was found dead from a suspected suicide after a long struggle with depression. We were all ready to hit the big red button the minute that the news broke.
So now I’m left with the question - do we launch, or not? I turned to twitter and my most trusted friends for advice because I can see going a few different ways. It’s not an easy decision.
The game is available for free online using a pay what you want model including absolutely nothing, with a portion of the proceeds going to charity to combat the stigma and culture of silence around this debilitating disease. A question that held up the porting process on Steam was the question of how to implement pay-what-you-want in a backend that doesn’t support it. The two ways we could ape it would be in app purchases (microtransactions) or through providing DLC that had different payment tiers. Both of these seemed suboptimal. The microtransactions require getting a secure server that I don’t have the money to maintain while praying that those who have already been very vocal about wanting to destroy both myself and my work wouldn’t be able to take it down, in addition to adding in ugly interface elements that hurt the design of the game. So that’s not really an option. The problem with adding in DLC with nothing that really offers much to the player is that is a good way to breed misunderstandings, and I don’t think it would be ethical to charge someone knowing that there’s a percentage of people who would feel ripped off or misled. I don’t want to take that chance.
So then the choice becomes do we charge or not? Many people were pushing me to charge, citing the help we could offer charities and the value of getting paid for your hard work and taking that money and making more things that could help people.
But none of that felt right. When making something you have to ask yourself what’s the spirit of the thing you’ve made. Why have you made this particular thing? And with Depression Quest, the answer has always been clear as day.
Depression Quest has always been an attempt to make a tool to help people understand depression and reach out to others living with the reality of this disease.
There is no way, in my mind, to ethically put something intended to be a tool for helping people behind a paywall. None.
This was the same guiding principle behind putting the game back on Greenlight after withdrawing initially due to threats and harassment. It’s a really really fucking hard thing to accept - that you have made something that can help someone else, especially when you yourself suffer from depression and have a very hard time accepting that you could do anything for anyone and aren’t totally worthless. But I’ve heard from too many people, heard too many stories from you wonderful fucking people, to ignore that. I love all of you too much to discount your lived experiences, so I accept that the game can help people seek help. Someone getting help or even feeling understood when they feel like an alien on their own planet is too rare of a thing to gamble with, too important to flinch from because you’re worried what people will think of you or say to you.
Similarly, that is why today leaves me conflicted. Majorly, massively conflicted. The last thing I want for the game is for the launch to seem opportunistic or like it is capitalizing on a massive tragedy like we’ve seen today. So again, I’ve turned to you. I’ve thought through a number of possible scenarios, and I feel like I have a responsibility to release today. I know there may be a worst case of people assuming the launch somehow is trying to capitalize on tragedy. However, I would rather have those people hate me than the people who are currently quietly suffering with this illness sit at their dinner tables tonight and hear the discussion of today’s news, hear people not understand how someone who had so much could kill themselves, and lack a resource they could have needed right then to point to and say “this is why”. I’d rather have people flood my inbox with threats again and call me a monster if it means that one person who was shocked by today’s news and maybe thinking of trying to reach out and get help could use this tool I’ve made to take the vitally important first steps towards clawing their way out of the hell that is this disease.
I feel like I have a responsibility to those who could be helped. Depression Quest was never ever meant to be just a game, and it has definitely done more than a traditional game might. I get regular emails from therapists who use it with their patients and families of depression sufferers to build a dialog and a bridge to understanding. It’s been used in classroom settings, people have played it with their parents and significant others to start showing them things they had a hard time verbalizing. Not taking those stories and those people seriously and accepting the role that this game was able to play in their own massive undertakings of self care would be disrespecting those people’s struggles. And I can’t do that.
There’s something here that people who don’t live with depression might not understand. When you suffer from this, the small windows of opportunity you have that you feel like you have the energy to and self-worth enough to try and take steps to change things, to want something more than feeling like you barely have your head above water, those chances and that motivation is fucking *rare*. I can’t in good conscience hold back offering someone something that could help them start making real changes in their life or even just offer a temporary relief or better understanding for the sake of reducing the risk of offending people or hurting my own reputation. If I was sitting down across a table from someone who asked me “how could you release the day Robin Williams took his own life” I would know how I could answer. I’d know why I did it, even if I felt conflicted about doing it. But if I sat down across from someone who asked “How could you hold back on releasing this game when I needed it” I would feel ashamed.
So I am launching the game. Quietly. I will not be promoting it until a respectful time later. But I want it to be out there and available in all the ways I can make it be available so that if someone needs it, they have it. After agonizing over it and asking the general public, they’ve overwhelmingly responded with pleas to release it. Especially among depression sufferers.
I never feel like I know what I’m doing, and like all I can ever do is do what feels right after consulting with people for outside perspective. This isn’t an easy choice, but I think it’s the right one.
Please, please, please take care of yourselves. Tell the people in your life you love them. Don’t stop pushing for more understanding and better care of those battling mental illness.
The game is available for free/pay what you want in the following places:
I love you all.
Yes absolutely. Whatever gets you devvin’ and feelin’ good :)
I did some digging and came up with these folks:
and the local IGDA: http://www.igdatc.org/ is supposedly pretty active.
Sorry it’s not more, anon!
Also it sucks how often students in game design programs or clubs get screwed like this. I’ve visited a few schools now and all of them except USC IMGD I’ve seen the groups of folks who want to start making games immediately have difficulty doing so and it just seems to backwards and weird. Sorry you’re having to put up with that :(
Nope! What you need to do is go download any of the following free software:
And start making games. Start by taking one of these things and looking through the tutorial documentation. All of them come with example projects. Once you get a tiny grasp on the interface, take one of the example games and mess with it. Change out the art. Change some variables. Poke at it. Then build something on to it - make it not resemble the sample game at all. I don’t care if you want to be an artist, coder, designer, sound person, or what - it’s good to have a holistic idea of what goes into making games. It lets you communicate with others on your teams better, it lets you find your voice and screw around with smaller stuff on your own time so you can make easy mistakes, and it lets you understand what you’re asking of potential teammates a bit more.
THEN, you should have a bit of familiarity with these tools. The next thing you wanna do is make something from scratch. Think of an idea, and then distill it to the smallest possible gameplay element. Make that ONE element. Just that. Mess with it and see how you like it. Maybe slap in some art (if you’re not an artist check out opengameart so you can still make stuff pretty). Then decide if it’s worth exploring further, if not, do it again.
Keep doing this till you find something that really resonates with you, and then explore that further but still try and make a small to medium game out of it. Scope is the indie’s mortal enemy, it swoops down on us and devours us in it’s mighty jaws if we don’t carry pointy sticks (or have producers/project managers) to fend off our natural predators.
Repeat the process till you’re sure if you wanna keep doing this or not. Go to game jams. Meet other developers. Participate in online stuff. Maybe find some people to do small jams with. Show your work to anyone with eyeballs and get feedback. Ask for help if you need it.
That’s the advice I can give as a place to start. If ever you see a better path, and really think that it’s better for you, by all means explore it too. Be ok with failing. Like, a lot. Game designers are a lot like games themselves - we all thrive on iteration and experimentation. Sometimes this means failing, and that’s absolutely an ok thing to do.
And when you’ve made some stuff, show me :)