Wizardchan is an imageboard community (in the vein of 4chan or 8chan) that is dedicated to what users refer to as the "wizard lifestyle": a life of prolonged and often involuntary male virginity. Wizardchan users are male and tend to be virgins in their late-20s/early 30s, NEET (not in education, employment, or training), hikikomori (reclused), and/or suffer from physical or mental illness that prevents them from leading fulfilling social lives. Users on Wizardchan "share their thoughts, vent, and discuss their interests and lifestyle as a virgin."
The imageboard has a comprehensive set of rules, many of which serve to create an environment that is not hostile to Wizardchan users (referred to as 'wizards'). Some of the rules include:
- 0. Do not identify as a female or suggest that you are one.
- 1. Do not discuss your sexual experience or suggest that you have or will engage in sexual activities.
- 2. Do not discuss your romantic experiences, relationships, or social experiences that are not strictly academic, business, or familial experiences. [...]
- 3. Do not disparage, advise against, or show contempt for the celibate, NEET, or reclusive lifestyles.
Zoe Quinn Accuses Wizardchan of Harassment
Despite no evidence being presented, the claims were quickly picked up and repeated by various gaming and technology publications, including The Escapist, Quarter to Three, The Daily Dot, Gimme Gimme Games, GameRanx, Indiestatik, Edge Online and Vice. The majority of the coverage cast Quinn's purported harassment as being a misogynist reactionary response to her being a female game developer trying to have her game "Depression Quest" approved through Steam's Greenlight system.
Meanwhile, users of Wizardchan expressed confusion and dismay at the allegations of harassment and raids against Quinn.
Likely helped in part by the publicity Quinn and Depression Quest gained from the reports of harassment and subsequent media coverage, Depression Quest was greenlit on Steam in January 2014 and officially released on Steam on August 11, 2014.
In April 2014, an imgur user posted Zoe Quinn is a liar, a five-part series of images showcasing numerous tweets from Zoe Quinn and screenshots taken from Wizardchan that shed light on the controversy and Quinn's subsequent boost in popularity. The image series theorized that Quinn took advantage of a third-party troll on Wizardchan to receive fame and recognition of Depression Quest at the expense of a community that was unable and unwilling to defend themselves against public backlash. This theory was further supported by Fredrick Brennan (owner of 8chan and previous site administrator of Wizardchan) in an interview held on October 9, 2014, in which he stated that the IP addresses of the users posting harassing comments towards Quinn and Depression Quest on Wizardchan were outside trolls and Zoe Quinn herself. However, no record of the IP addresses has been made publically available.
Reinvestigation by GamerGate
The Wizardchan/Quinn controversy was revisited following revelations from The Zoe Post. Members of the gaming public began to investigate rumors and links between Quinn and various members of the gaming press, and in doing so gave additional scrutiny towards Quinn's claims of harassment from Wizardchan and the lack of further investigation by journalists.
Various charges were leveled against the publications and The Escapist in particular, including not properly investigating the initial claims made by Quinn, not noting that the claims were unsourced allegations, nor attempting to investigate or contact any representatives of Wizardchan despite them strenuously objecting to the allegations.
In response to this, the general manager of The Escapist, Alexander Macris, developed a new Ethics Policy in consultation with the Editor-in-Chief Greg Tito. In addition, the following statement directly addressing the Wizardchan story was issued:
- Wizardchan FAQ
- Twitter: Zoe Quinn: 12:44 PM - 12 Dec 2013 (1)
- Twitter: Zoe Quinn: 12:44 PM - 12 Dec 2013 (2)
- Twitter: Zoe Quinn: 12:40 PM - 12 Dec 2013
- The Escapist: Depression Quest Dev Faces Harassment after Steam Submission (Archive)
- Quarter to Three: The harassment of Depression Quest’s developer is depressing
- The Daily Dot: After a bumpy ride, 'Depression Quest' gets some good news
- Gimme Gimme Games: Depression Quest developer harassed for being a female game developer
- GameRanx: Female Developer Verbally Abused After Submitting Game to Steam Greenlight
- Indiestatik: Female Game Developers Can't Even Submit a Game to Greenlight Without Facing Harassment
- Edge Online: Why the co-creator of Depression Quest is fighting back against Internet trolls
- Vice: The Sexist BS Women Who Make Video Games Have to Deal With
- Steam: Depression Quest on Steam
- The Escapist Publishers Note