Posted by <Elias ZX> on 2022-02-15
My heart is stuck in 2014. I met Zoë Quinn in Boston at an Indie Game festival; I was on the press list, so I received press releases. She built a pillow fort on the show floor for her game “Depression Quest,” a game that was available for free in a web browser. It was a very funny press release. I never really considered myself a Games Journalist; the YouTube videos I made were not supposed to be informative. But I wanted the press passes, and in very rare cases I would get free games before they were released. The Boston Indie Game festival was a free event, so my press pass was virtually indistinguishable from anyone else’s passes.
I considered Zoë Quinn to be a friend, even though we never spoke or even interacted online after that festival. Sometime later, Kotaku posted an article about the disastrous shoot for a Video-Game-Design-Competition-Reality-Show. I don’t remember what went wrong on the set, I just remember Quinn was partnered with JonTron, a YouTuber I had followed since the inception of his channel. I was in the child psychologist’s waiting room when Quinn posted her original Twitter thread—some months after the article’s release, she had become the target of a harassment campaign focused on “ethics in video game journalism.” The invisible mob from 4chan called it “GamerGate” and accused Quinn of sleeping with a writer from Kotaku to get favorable reviews for her game. Kotaku never posted a review of Depression Quest. The only mention of Quinn on the entire site came from the article about the TV show pilot. Part of me thought this was all my fault because of a Reddit post I made a few months earlier. I thought they took my idea for the show. I didn’t want to be a part of this community anymore, I didn’t like seeing my “friend” harassed in an attempt to validate my “work.”
I didn’t want to be a man-child but I thought my fate was inevitable due to my fixation on retro video games—a community which, at the time, was built around men in their 40s living in basements filled with Nintendo paraphernalia. My first press pass was for a convention outside of Philadelphia called Too Many Games. I made videos showcasing each panel that I attended. Most were for minor celebrities in the world of retro video game videos. One panel was a discussion with Stuart Zagnit, the voice of Professor Oak in the Pokémon original series. Surrounded by man-children and children-children, he was just a normal old man. He didn’t know much about video games and didn’t have much to share in terms of the Pokémon canon; although he did present a pretty solid theory that Professor Oak is Ash’s real dad. He spent a lot of time talking about the musicals he’d been a part of and his son’s reaction to Pokémon. He was just a normal working actor with a long history in show business. After the convention I friended him on Facebook and he sent me a signed photo of himself, packaged with a cut-up cereal box. Six years later I sent him a message and asked if he would play a small role in a short film I was making.
I’m not going to tell you how GamerGate connects to REBIRTH.jpeg, a film which is based on an almost completely unrelated 4chan post turned pseudo-meme. I’m also not going to explain the film to you. All I will say is Stuart Zagnit gives an incredible performance as the doctor and I want you to watch until he’s on screen.