Act 0: Whereof One Cannot Speak, Thereof One Must Be Silent

(There’s a TL;DR in the last post; but I promise things get interesting if you read the whole thing)


Sometime around November of 2013, I signed up for an OKCupid account and got a 98% match with a cutie with colorful hair (cool), who was super into social justice stuff (good!), and was super into video games (neat!), and liked to make them (ah! I used to make them, that was fun times!), and by some coincidence turns out to have made a somewhat esoteric game I happened to have played a while back.

So I messaged her to meet up for drinks — on my birthday.

She seemed pretty cool; I didn’t talk much at first, and mostly listened as she related tales of adversities she’d overcome and how they’d shaped her as a person and fueled her determination to improve the world. I was enamored, but after a while she caught herself ranting and asked about my interests and from there we discussed all sorts of stuff from art to programming to neurology to artificial intelligence to philosophy to how the “is it a game?” argument has literally been going on for a quarter century before video games even existed. At which point she showed me a copy of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico Philosophicus she carried around in her bag. Swoon — good birthday.

That date lasted about three days. And we went on a couple more and just kept hitting it off on every point, and within two weeks we threw caution to the wind and went exclusive — facebook official, the works.

We’d spend hours discussing anything and everything; though the conversations often turned to ethics, motivations, and stories of her past. Among the most commonly recurring were:

  1. Stories about how the grief and confusion of being raised by a pathological liar taught her to make it a point to always say what she meant, and to communicate at face value.
  2. Stories about an extremely manipulative ex-husband, who would do things like refuse to stop wearing the ring from his last relationship, and make her feel terrible or insane for any discomfort she expressed — though he was in fact cheating on her as he was making her feel terrible for being worried.
  3. The pain of spending most of her childhood alone, as well as the injustice of being ostracized from various groups and communities in her adulthood.
  4. Views on the ethics of infidelity. Which she maintained is inherently wrong even if the person who was cheated on never finds out, because (aside from willfully endangering their partner by way of increased STD risk) if the unfaithful party then has sex with their partner, they are doing so under false pretenses, and therefore without their partner’s consent. That is, sex with a partner who doesn’t know you’ve cheated on them is sex without consent.

There were other strong principled positions, sometimes brought up for their own sake, sometimes brought up in relevant situations, and almost always tied to her past, but they didn’t in any sense make up the bulk of our relationship. We’d spend a lot of time hacking around on our separate projects together, eating vegan food, flirting on tumblr, and having awesome sex.

Eventually she asked me to work with her on her new game, and I happily agreed.

She took me to IndieCade East, and she got me a pass to see her at GDC


And it seemed everything was going immeasurably well until I started succumbing to pointless and seemingly inexplicable bouts of anxiety sometime between the very end of April to the very beginning of May. We kinda broke up, but kinda not. She’d often message me to say she loved me and wanted to be with me again someday. She had eyes only for me, she said, and wanted me to say the same for her.

A few months later, around the end of June, we get back together (though this time she was worried about a mole among her facebook friend’s list, and so she didn’t make it facebook official until two weeks into the relationship, for a carefully vetted group of, by her estimate, roughly 200 friends or so). Before you know it we’re hitting on each other over tumblr again and sending cutesy couples photos whenever we missed each other.


She even flew me out to San Francisco on a last minute whim around early July (The last photo of this set is one she took of me in SF, though the goth nipples and smoke ring are both back in Boston). This was for the most part a good time —

Until I found out she’d been cheating on me with her boss (Joshua Boggs). And a few days later we have the following conversation, where I ask for her help finding and informing his wife:

Shit, man, what happened?

I mean, obviously she cheated on me (a lot actually), but why would someone violate their own beliefs on something as important to them as sexual consent? And what’s with all this fear of someone going public? What happened to her strong principled stance of unflinching honesty? Or of owning up to mistakes? What happened to the paragon of virtue I fell in love and set out to help fix the world with?

Well, the above conversation happens a few days after a considerably more painful one, where I discover almost none of the things I loved about her were true. I’ve included annotated logs of that conversation in the footer of the next act, so you can verify that I am not making any of this up, but you don’t need to bother reading them if you’re not so inclined.

Each act will have a TL;DR at the end if you’re in a rush — There’s also a TL;DR of the whole thing at the end, and even a TL;DR of that — because I wish someone had given me a “Too Long; Didn’tRelationship” before I got into all this.


The next Act starts off in a comedic tone, but that’s mostly because it was too depressing to write any other way. It gets intense near the end, and then nothing is funny anymore. 




I dated Zoe Quinn. I thought she was the most amazing, kind hearted person in the world.


Turns out she was bullshitting pretty much everything I fell in love with her for, and is actually an unbelievable jerk. She lied to and manipulated me for months — effortlessly — because it was not believable that someone could be that selfish of a person, that convincing of a liar, and that good of a manipulator, while completely ignoring the very principles she so adamantly espoused. So I dumped her. Here’s some stuff she did / does in no particular order or tense [which you can verify using the chatlog images in the footer of Act 1]:


  1. Spend quite a bit of time talking about how she would never ever cheat on anyone because that violates sexual consent — all the while cheating on me
  2. With Nathan Grayson
  3. And Robin Arnott
  4. And Joshua Boggs
  5. (who is both her boss and married)
  6. And at least two other people (whose names are censored). And very probably more — but I won’t get into why I believe that.
  7. As opposed to informing Joshua’s wife, primarily freak out about her own career if his wife goes public.
  8. Do her goddamn hardest to make sure I didn’t sleep with anyone but her while we were broken up. Inevitably succeed.
  9. Sleep with a bunch of people while we were broken up, ignoring all of the strong principled stances she used to convince me not to.
  10. Pretend we didn’t need to use protection whenever we had sex while we were broken up
  11. or while we were together
  12. Basically demand I ostracize a friend who was going through some seriously fucked up shit, because that friend had sort of showed a tentative interest in me while we were broken up.
  13. On her own end though, apparently have no problem choosing to work for Joshua Boggs after cheating on me with him (which I feel requires a bit more than a tentative interest), or after finding out about his wife.
  14. Spend an hour arguing that she would never lie in a relationship — while she was lying about all of the things in our relationship.
  15. Stop at pretty much no length to prevent me from finding out the truth. If I had to lose 10 pounds to bouts of panic attacks spent questioning my own sanity for a sleepless week of being ostracized so she could spend that time cheating on me — well, that’s unfortunate for me, but the important thing was that I not be around to make things awkward between her and the flavor of the week.
  16. Totally make two people up to divert suspicion from the fact that she was fucking Nathan. Seriously, she just — she made two people up. This probably doesn’t deserve its own list item but like, the claim that there were two additional people crashing with her was one of the things that made me think I couldn’t possibly have been right to worry during the panic attack week because who the hell would just fabricate . . . PEOPLE?
  17. Later go on to ostracize Nathan for a week simply so she could fuck some other guys.
  18. Have unprotected sex with me like 12 freaking hours after cheating on me with her boss.
  19. Express remorse really damn well, really damn often, and only about the specific thing she has been caught doing. That is, express no remorse about any of the very related things she hasn’t been caught doing yet.
  20. Lie in literally the same breath she is expressing remorse about having lied. Which isn’t to say her remorse is fake, I can’t know if it is or isn’t, it sure *looks* and *sounds* real enough. It’s just to say that her remorse doesn’t actually mean anything in terms of future intent. She’ll promise never to do something again in a fit of despair and regret, and then do that thing like an hour later.
  21. Lie a fucking LOT. Like holy shit how much more can one person possibly lie. At one point she actually lies about a lie about a lie about a lie.
  22. A bunch of other fucked up things which I’m not even going to bother researching the legal ramifications of telling you about.
  23. After making a grand show of remorse and expressing a desire to make all of this up to me, go on to ostracize me, because doing the right thing and making it up to me isn’t worth the risk that I might go public with any additional admissions if we have to talk things out online.
  24. Be really fucking good at pretending to be worth looking up to.

TL;DR of TL;DR: Seriously, you really don’t want to trust Zoe Quinn.