« Regarding the “conflict of interest” in my latest piece |

On leaving



Basically, #GamerGate flooded Frank with inane, wild-eyed criticisms and conspiracy theories until she couldn’t take any more. While she may have been considering a career change for a while prior, as she alluded to above, it’s clear that this latest deluge was the final straw.

I’m not sure whether a writer at Bustle meant to be so on-the-nose with his assessment of my nine-year career, but he’s right. Maybe I’ve been looking for an “out” for a while now.

I am giving myself permission to do something else with my life. What follows is why.

There’s a lot of deliberate misinformation being passed around—some of it downright defamatory—and much has to do with a 500-word op-ed published under my name in The Guardian. (I say “under my name” because the editorial process actually involves a lot of people and their expertise.)

The Guardian article was edited, fact-checked, and approved by a legal department, a process that took four days (maybe three, plus time zones). The Guardian itself is an old and venerable institution, and I am still very proud to have my name appear there.

In the first and several subsequent drafts I provided a disclosure, indicating that I do know Ms. Quinn and financially support her work, but the piece was ultimately published without it, since my views do, in fact, represent those of the paper. There is no “conflict of interest,” the paper determined, in my knowing one of the people about whom the opinion piece concerns. (The footnote has since been revised and updated, however, to reflect everything.)

I find it interesting, though, that my one “controversial” article, the one that “established” me as a “corrupted” video games journalist lacking “ethics,” was—unlike the many, many unwashed essays I have released into the wild—the same one that endured the most rigorous of due editorial processes.

It’s “controversial,” of course, because I decried the harassment and abuse lobbed toward a pair of people, one of whom I joke with online and see at conferences and also pay a few dollars to each month. For the record, I know a lot of people from all walks of life, joke with them online, see a lot of people at conferences, and pay for their work, ordinarily without injury to my career or reputation.

I also like to think I have taken a hardline stance against harassment and bullying, irrespective of whether I’ve ever met the person targeted or, really, whether I even like the person. It’s all immaterial: Abuse and harassment are never okay. That isn’t a particularly feminist stance.

I think, for me, and for anyone who knows me—or even for those who don’t know me, as even Vox refers to me as “a largely uncontroversial reporter and critic”—it’s inexplicable that my career would die on the hill of a single 500-word column. (In stark comparison, the blog you’re reading right now is nearly 1500 words.)

I started out as a staff reviewer in 2005 at EGM, writing 90- or 120-word reviews of video games (PS2, PSP, DS). I worked at Ziff Davis Media 2006-2008. In 2009, after a yearlong hiatus, I got it into my head that I could sneak back into the industry, keep my head down, and write increasingly weird essays about video games. The goal was to keep myself humbly invisible. (I have written before, very openly, about having been diagnosed with agoraphobia in 2008. The same essay describes my father’s Alzheimer’s.)

Since then I have written two whole video game reviews, both commissioned by Paste. The rest of the time I have written, for the most part, essays about my parents dying, or losing my apartment or the dog or whatever. I have also written three times for Vice Motherboard (once about Chop Suey, once about Cho Aniki and, the last time, about Snood), once for 1UP.com (a Mystery House retrospective), and once for the New York Times (“When Death Makes Us Laugh”). That stuff is fun for me.

Oddly, the essay for which I won last year’s Games Journalism Prize is essentially a video game preview, but it is, again, also about death. I have rarely written about people I know—and when I have, I’ve written about people who are dead, to the exclusion of almost all else—because I am a weird, unhappy woman who is obsessed with death.

In 2012 I explained to L. Rhodes the reasoning behind my weird-ass writing: “I didn’t like what came up when you googled my name, and instead of shrinking away, I wanted to take more ownership of the kind of writing I do. To take back my byline, basically.

It is amazing to me that, after years of exerting some intellectual effort toward this end, I am back at Square One.

Baffled by widespread reception to The Guardian piece, yes, I am, but no, I was not blindsided.

As #GamerGate took off—initially, it was a movement, organized mainly on 4chan, denouncing the mainstream games press for its lack of coverage of Ms. Quinn’s apparently salacious sex life—I, too, had to wonder at the press’s imperious silence. I gritted my teeth. No one’s going to say something? Sure, fine, I’ll do it.

And oh, man, what a sucky feeling, to intuit that taking a hard-assed stance opposing abuse (of all things!) is going to somehow put you through the wringer.

I knew I wasn’t the one for the job; rather, I was the last person for the job, precisely because I subscribe to Ms. Quinn’s Patreon. (On that: $5 a month, for three months… that’s $15. I am being taken to task for $15, far less than any journalist’s bar tab.)

To be sure, GamerGate’s debate about Patreon, about those inbuilt “conflicts of interest,” arrived a few months late. In June, in reply to an anonymous question, I spoke openly about the poor pay freelancers make—usually between $50 and $100 per article here in the US, if they are ever paid at all—and, after hemming and hawwing and some over-transparency/TMI about my reasons, I launched a Patreon of my own. I have now had a Patreon for three whole months. (In 2012 I was absolutely prolific. My writing earned me, that year, $500.)

When I launched it, a lot of game developers wondered “aloud” (read: on Twitter) whether they ethically can contribute to a writer’s Patreon. It is an interesting conundrum. I asked a Patreon employee whether people could just contribute anonymously. Hell, I don’t want to know who my readers are.

“Well,” the Patreon employee sighed, “no, but they can use a fake name.”

I have remarked before that nobody, not even Patreon, is quite clear on what “Patreon” is, but we are already criminalizing its use.

When I saw The Guardian’s approved final draft, I knew there would be problems. The Patreon disclosure was gone, Phil Fish’s name had been added, and now the word “gamers” was used. I was disheartened, but not very surprised, to peek into 4chan and discover, in real-time, people confusing my Guardian article decrying abuse, for Leigh Alexander’s “Death of the Gamers” piece. I realized, finally, that I was witnessing a coordinated attack on my own career which, to someone who has never read my work, is apparently indistinguishable from Leigh’s.

Leigh's job

It isdamn sad.”

Someone recently asked me on Twitter whether—knowing what I know now—I would do it all over again. I got a little distracted, spent a couple Tweets defending the op-ed, but the truth is, yes. Yes, in a heartbeat.

It’s almost ugly to say, but I’m actually grateful to GamerGate. All this time, I’ve felt beholden to video games, and to the people who make them or play them or read and write about them. Maybe it really is a conflict of interests: my own. It’s conflicts all the way down.

And really, my God, I don’t have to do this. I’ve been given permission to move on to another audience. I have faith in my abilities to do something, anything else, without feeling inhibited or limited by my hobby.

At the fine old age of 32, this once-partying spinster is finally getting married, with the hope of starting a family. With my parents gone, and a new family present (omnipresent, actually—sorry to my mother-in-law), I am beholden to an entirely new set of people.

I can finally understand and appreciate why I’ve watched so many games journalists walk away from all this*—and, bless them, you usually never have to hear about it.

92 responses to “On leaving” »

  1. n0wak says:

    Nothing like finding love and getting married in your 30s to put it all in perspective, and the perspective is that none of that (“that” being jobs and social media and work stress) is worth it. Good luck with any new ventures, I’m sure they’ll be great. Especially with loving support from home.

      • sql_handle (@sql_handle) says:

        Best wishes on the next chapter of your adventure! I came here after Veerender mentioned how much he misses your talks. I think he’s a good man, so wanted to hear your story.

        I’m an outsider to the world of gaming, but very interested in the broader tech world. The last few months have been concerning to me because I want my daughters to feel free to pursue computer tech careers if they choose.

        I’m glad you are still writing, and that you have a healthy relationship with the audience that appreciates you!

  2. Tess says:

    Hey, you don’t know me or anything, but I’m glad to read that you seem to be doing pretty well, considering. I hope you’ll understand that I feel sick to my stomach at hearing about women being driven out of gaming, so I’m at least relieved to see that you’re approaching this with relief rather than anguish.

    Hopefully someday gaming will grow up and not be an industry that people are kind of relieved to leave.

    I hope things go well with your family and with whatever you decide to do next. I’ll keep an eye out for your byline.

  3. Matt Killmon says:

    You deserved a better shake, but any industry that wants to drive you out isn’t an industry worth staying in. If you choose to write, the people who’ve deeply loved your work—myself included among them—will still be around to read it long after the people who don’t even know who you are have disappeared.

    Thank you for all you’ve done.

    • Kyle H says:

      It’s not the industry that’s trying to drive her out, it’s the customers of that industry who feel like their last haven, their last bastion of sexism and misogyny and homophobia and everything that allows them to be inconsiderate, is under assault.

      I don’t want “safe spaces” at conventions or in games. I’d rather see “unsafe spaces” where people can know that they’re walking into mostly-unmoderated hate-filled bile-spewing areas that will, by their nature, suffer attrition from the ultimate deaths of people who don’t go out of their way to make other people feel welcome.

      Why should “safety” be ghettoized? “Unsafety” is what should be ghettoized, and there should always be a way out of it.

      • Li Boud says:

        Kyle H, as a customer of said industry and a supporter of #GamerGate, driving women out is not even the last thing I want to do. Whatever you believe, I know that I’m not a misogynist, I’m not a sexist and I’m not a homophobe. I’m just a guy who loves gaming. I’m a guy who welcomes every positive change in gaming. The sad part is you don’t know me, but you paint me with the same color, our voice got buried under the craziness of some people. People don’t want to listen to us because we talk reason not insanity?

        Now, I hear people say gamers are misogynists and sexists and ‘Gamer’ is dead. Well I take offense to that. “Gamer” is not an ideology, it is not an organization. It is just a vaguely defined group of people connected by only their love of games. People with different backgrounds, with different ideologies. Gamers are just a subset of a larger group, people. Take any other group, for example cinephiles or sport fans. Can anyone claim with certainty that none of the people who belong to these groups are sexists? And if some of them are sexists, is it fair to paint the entire group as sexist? Why gamers are being single out? Why not acknowledging the truth that some people are just horrible?

        Okay, so some assholes threatened some women in gaming on internet, despicable act, no doubt. But they belong to subset of internet users as well. Why everyone claimed that ‘gamers’ threatened so and so women? Who researched and established that these people were indeed, gamers and not just internet trolls seeking attention? Why such assumption? I’m a 27 year old gamer, married. blessed with a daughter, I work on weekdays play games with my wife and friends on weekend. I’d never send a rape or death threat to anyone, man or a woman. Then why I’m painted with the same color? Just because I want transparency in gaming media? If everything was alright, why Kotaku needed to disclose relationship between Patricia Hernandez and her friends, whom she covered years back? The truth is everything was not alright.

        PS: Sorry if I made any mistake in my post, or if my post sounds awkward. English is not my primary language.

  4. Mike P. says:

    I first heard of you during your CM days at 1up and I’ve followed much of your writing and work online ever since (the horror games episode of Retronauts Classic is still one of my favorites).

    I’ve been very sad to see the undeserved mountain of crap piled onto you over the past few weeks that you’ve had to deal with, but if you’re ultimately moving on to better things in life then I wish you all the best.

    • Dan Diemer says:

      The memory of that horror game episode crept back as I was reading this. I remember it was pretty moving. Thanks Jenn, sorry the internet is full of idiots :/

  5. Robin Wilde says:

    As you leave gaming, my team are just starting to get some real attention for it. It’s a little scary going in, but I hope we can do as much good as you did. Good luck wherever you go next – and be damn proud of what you’ve achieved.

  6. Martin says:

    Dear Jenn,

    We’ve never met. I wish we had.

    Your articles showed an open heart and mind. Your voice will be missed.

    Thank you for what you did and good luck for the future,

  7. Robbie says:

    Despite the inherent sadness I have for you being (wrongly) hounded out of a profession you enjoy, I hope that it leads to something better for you professionally and personally.

    Whilst I do have time for a sensible discussion around professional ethics in gaming journalism, I have no time for the hate mob that GamerGate has come to represent. Your view on the industry will be missed.

  8. Amy Brighter says:

    I haven’t been following you for super long, but I have always admired your writing, and how you seem to deal with everything so well (which I’m sure you’ll tell me isn’t true, but you do.) I’ve wanted to become a part of this industry, and while this all has made me question that some, knowing that there is some network out there that is supportive has made me want to push on anyway.

    I’ve hated watching everything unfold over these past few weeks, but in the process I’ve found a few role models along the way. You’ve become one of them. I just want to wish you the best of luck, and I’m sure I’ll hear more of you soon.

  9. Alex Edwards says:

    As someone on the fringe-fringes of the GamerGate movement, I can only continue to apologise for the irresponsible and downright harmful actions of the individuals responsible for flinging poop at you under our banner. The sane majority within (the movement? coalition? whatever) GamerGate are trying to police our own. Most of us hate harassment and decry abuse wherever it may be. We all want more diversity in games, we all want more women to enter the industry.

    But as with any loose knit group we are a mass of individuals and not a hive mind. We know this is very much true on the journalism side of things, it’s just some of our ‘arseholes’ are so mad at some of the ‘arseholes’ on the other side that they just crap indiscriminately. An overly colourful metaphor I know, but it tends to fit. And because of their behavior, we are all guilty by loose association. And that’s the way we’ll be continued to be viewed, sadly, and it is a cross most of us are sick of being told to bear.

    But enough of this tiresome hand-wringing on my part. I cannot undo or take back what has been thrown at you on behalf of the idiots who prefer throwing stones to rational discourse. It’s shameful, I admit that, and I am sorry for how the cards have fallen for you. I wish you all the best in whatever you do from this point on.

    • Mick says:

      Alex, all I could think as I read your post was “manipulation, manipulation, manipulation”. You see, even if you’re being sincere, the #GamerGate tag is beyond tainted. After the events of the last few weeks, anyone not within the GamerGate echo chamber is going to be suspicious of it’s supporters.

      That said, I was shaking with anger after reading this article. After the New Yorker article was published, Twitter was alive with GamerGate supporters trying to dig up dirt on Simon Parkin, the author. They claim to be about ethics yet have no problem getting down and dirty with unfounded accusations.

      I wish you well, Jenn. What happened to you was unfair as hell.

      • Alex Edwards says:

        I was being perfectly sincere, and it would be helpful if you could point out where the manipulative subtext was in my message. I certainly didn’t intend to come across as such.

        As I said, I am far more the observer than an active participant in this on-going war of words. This has allowed me to remain somewhat objective, though I will admit for falling for certain articles and videos before doing my own research.

        And as I pointed out, there are disingenuous individuals on both sides of the fence acting to the detriment of their argument.

        Thank you for your response though, and have a good weekend wherever you may be.

      • Jenn Frank says:

        Mick, I know Alex is sincere. A lot of the people who joined in with GG are authentic with their concerns, concerns that we, many of us in the industry, have shared for some time. I can empathize. As for Mick’s comment about “manipulation,” Alex, I think that’s true, too. A lot of people with real concerns are being preyed on by members of GG, are coerced with deliberate misinformation into launching a full attack on an individual.

        To that end I’d add that a lot of industry personalities can be bombastic. Sometimes this is false—it’s what outlying readers respond to—but sometimes it’s because we’ve heard too much of something for so long, we get a little fiery.

        Regardless, it would be nice to see some of the concerned citizen members of GG branch off and do something good and new with the ongoing conversation. I think, for those people, their intent is righteous and worthwhile.

  10. AndreMurgo says:

    “As #GamerGate took off—initially, it was a movement, organized mainly on 4chan, denouncing the mainstream games press for its lack of coverage of Ms. Quinn’s apparently salacious sex life”

    False. #GamerGate was coined by actor Adam Baldwin on Twitter when he caught wind of the situation and decided to support us. Someone retweeted something about Anita Sarkeesian’s Feminist Frequency to Joss Whedon who proceeded to retweet that and offer Anita his support. Baldwin caught wind of this since he follows Whedon on there and decided to research the issue further, and later decided to support us.

  11. Very sad you’ve gone. FWIW, I’ll miss your game writing, and those of countless others like you we’ll never get to hear. Hope you find a way to negotiate with yourself some way of continuing to contribute. But if you don’t, go, spread your wings, Godspeed.

  12. Brinstar says:

    Gamers have shown, with their reprehensible abusive behavior, that they don’t deserve your talents or the talents of everyone else who has been driven out by their misogyny and hateful stupidity. We as an industry and as a community are culturally poorer for all those losses. I will miss your writing and thoughts on games, but fully support your decision. All the bullshit these gamers have been piling on you isn’t worth your piece of mind and wellbeing. The costs are too high and you deserve better. I am so glad that we got to meet. I hope our paths cross again one day. If you are ever in my neck of the woods, let me know. I’d love to hang out. 🙂 Good luck with life’s next steps outside games. They’ll no doubt be way more awesome.

  13. Morgan Haro says:

    I can only imagine all the amazing opportunities that await you as you bring your talents to new areas. would be amazing to keep hearing your perspective on games if it ever moves you in the future, but I’ll look forward to see what you do next =]

  14. Francisco Velo says:

    As someone who changed job due to it interfering with my personal life too much, I wish you the best on your new adventure, I honestly believe you are making a good choice, I hope that your new audience actually appreciates you.

    Have a great time

  15. Dave D says:

    I was going through a rough time in my life when I discovered Retronauts and heard you reminisce about playing Atari games as a confused little kid. My family was frequently broke and I had the same experiences, playing my dad’s old 2600 and having no idea what to do in Haunted House. That little bit of nostalgia was a big comfort to me when I needed it and I just wanted to thank you.

    I hope whatever your life turns into from here is completely awesome.

  16. Brett says:

    I’ve been following your work since the beginning back in 2005 and how much I liked your work had nothing to do with video games. I like you and I like your writing. I will continue to read your work and I think not being dragged down by trying to always relate back to games will be so freeing that you’ll only get better.

    Thank you for the years of work and I look forward to what you’ll do next.

  17. Pertusaria says:

    I will miss your games writing, but will make more of an effort to keep up with whatever else you write/create, because you’re a good writer and you pick interesting subjects.

    I’m sorry to see people (women, but also other people who don’t like harrassment and threats) leaving games over this or with this as the final straw, because games writers have played a huge role in opening me up to more writing and thinking about equality – including people who left before the recent trouble, like Samantha Allen. That’s not a reflection on the people leaving, though – it’s a reflection on the people making life as a games writer or dev a litany of “please don’t let it be me”.

    Best of luck with the wedding and everything that comes after, and congrats on finding a second (or third, or nth) family.

  18. On a level it’s a shame that the troglodytes keep “winning” in the sense of shouting loud enough that everyone rational finds somewhere else to go, as there’s so much interesting stuff to do with, and say about, videogames, that has yet to be tackled (largely due to this impenetrable noise filter). But—I hear you. After a point, on a personal level, it’s not worth it.

    I got out, more or less, a few years ago, for a parallel if less dramatically inflected series of reasons. Suddenly articles didn’t pay anymore. The unpleasantness seemed to ramp up month by month, and the only response I got to most of my articles was people chasing me around the Internet to scream at me. By focusing my energies on this stunted medium—however much I loved to dream about what it could be—I felt like I was limiting myself. I wanted to do other things. And then there was love, and the all-encompassing revamp of my priorities and available time.

    Don’t be hard on yourself. Don’t feel like you’re abandoning your post, or whatever. There are lots of good people filling in the blanks, as I have noticed since my own departure, building on what has come before. However much good work you do here, you’ll never be remembered as a person. To do that, you have to go out and make something of your own in some zone where people behave like people and respect people as people.

    Anyway. Good job for all you’ve done. Good job for getting your head straight. Just do whatever you need to do, and fuck anyone who tries to claim something over you.
    – He Who Was Aderack

  19. Dave Riley says:

    I always thought you were one of the most empathetic voices in a medium basically devoid of empathy.

    Thanks for all you wrote.

    Sorry we weren’t good enough to keep you around. 🙁

    Have a really good life. 😀

    ...and maybe come back once in a while, if it’s convenient?

  20. Kyle H says:

    The gaming press will be a poorer place with you gone. Thank you for what you did, and congratulations on realizing that your life does not need to be identified with somewhere that hurts to be.

  21. Tadhg Kelly says:

    What can I say Jenn? Don’t go!

    Best of luck.

  22. Tom L. says:

    Good Riddance, Gaming journalists are just parasites. They don’t create anything.

    • ArugulaZ says:

      But hey, you guys have done a really good job of driving the game creators out of this hobby too. Congratulations?

    • Not the FBI says:

      Funny, I was going to say that no-talent morons who spend their time commenting on the blogs of people they disagree with just to make them feel bad are the REAL parasites.

      Enjoy having nothing but game advertisements to read.

  23. Walter Bennet says:

    Jenn, I’ll follow your writing wherever it takes you. I’ve been a big fan of yours since the 1up days. Honestly, the industry being in the state that it’s in, scarcely deserves you. There are MUCH bigger things out in the world that could use your wit, your insight and your style, and I hope to see your byline again sometime soon. Cheers.

  24. Luci says:

    Hi Jenn.

    What I wanted to say was, above and beyond games and gaming, what I loved was your writing. You had a voice that seemed very honest, genuine and sincere. As if you were putting yourself into it fully; more than most, I think.

    Which is not to say there aren’t many, many wonderful writers out there, doing great stuff in their respective styles. There are. But you (and Cara Ellison) wrote the stuff that spoke to me.

    When I read this http://www.unwinnable.com/2012.....ge-sexist/ I saw myself. Granted, I saw myself a fair bit younger than depicted, but still. It was a relateable experience, and put very clear sightedly.

    I haven’t told you any of the above, or contacted you in anyway, but now seems like the time to acknowledge that I really enjoyed reading your stuff.


  25. Ricemilk says:

    Dearest Jenn, I believe a diversity of interests and expertise is a strength that will reflect well on your future work.

  26. Ramon L. says:

    This made me sad. It’s never fun to see someone forced out of a passion.

  27. Pawel says:

    I have mixed feelings about this article.
    On the one hand, she was not responsible for writing the actual parts that were considered biased viewpoint.’
    On the other, she first states that she stands by and her “views do, in fact, represent those of the paper.” and yet still “When I saw The Guardian’s approved final draft, I knew there would be problems.” The problem turned out to be a result of editorial staff and not the one listed as author.
    If Jenna Frank truly wasn’t at fault, I’d like to sincerely apologize. I don’t speak for the #gamergate part, hard to say if anyone at all can represent it personally, but I can assume the majority shares my wiev. The goal is/was to remove the journalists that have been pushing non-game related agendas like, for example personal interest and ones that do not do full research. If what the article says is true, then the ones responsible for changes were the staff. But it is not the place for blaming.
    If it is true, hae my sincere apologies and best wishes on the new choices in life.

  28. I love your writing, and wish you luck with whatever comes next for you. I know that whatever it is will be touched with the same honesty, humanity, and empathy that makes your writing so special.

  29. Eric says:

    I’m going to truly miss your writing. It has moved and inspired me repeatedly. I passed around the interview you did with Culture Ramp, “The Critic”, back in 2012, to all my friends as some of the best thinking about games I saw in print that year. Videogames are indeed a place you go, and they’ll be poorer without you. Thank you, and I’m sorry people can be awful. 🙁

  30. dustin says:

    From my experience there has been nothing organized about gamer gate. Which is why you can even claim what you claim. If there was any organization to this it’s be at least some what policed instead thousands of well meaning people all lumped with with a few people from 4chan who clearly don’t like you people.

    Has not that attitude been what really set this off in the first place? the all gamers are behind this instead of the few people who were. gamergate wasn’t even a thing when the zoe quinn scandal was going on. I for one couldn’t have given less a shit about Zoe Quinn I mean why would anyone care what a dev who made one horrible game is doing. Sarkeesian she is professional victim most people don’t take seriously so once again didn’t care. What got me involved and the vast majority was the the gamer identity is dead and all gamers are misogynist bigots line of bullshit. You can’t make grand claims like that about millions of people without pissing off a good % of them and that is what you are seeing right now. Not some conspiracy to ruin your life and that of other women in the gaming industry.

    • Not the FBI says:

      And your treating all game journalists as one giant homogeneous block is different from treating all gamers as one giant homogeneous block… how?

  31. Daniel Fu says:

    Hi Jenn,

    I’ve never actually read any of your articles or honestly known who you were until about 5 minutes ago, clicking a link off of the Giantbomb website.

    I’ve been following a bit of what’s going on the past few weeks, and it’s utterly disgusting. Best of luck to you, obviously a talented writer, in whatever you get into next. It’s a damn shame that the game industry is infected with an loud minority with enough hate and malice in it to mount this kind of attack on people.

    Congrats on the new family, and good luck!

  32. Richard says:

    I have probably never read any of your writing’s aside from this one and wished to lay a comment down. I was pointed to your exit by the game’s journalist Alex Navarro of Giant Bomb who wishes you the best as do I.

    However it is sad to see the forces at work that put this decision in action, it does actually sound like a good thing for yourself to explore the world through your new marriage and future new jobs. With the coverage of gaming industry changing and your format being very refined in the traditional sense of covering games this might be a good head start on what may become a brick wall later.

    With the more well known game reviewers connected to everybody including their readers on a fringe basis or even a closer arrangement. The Zoe Quinn situation has put many questions into play about relationships of and the trust to be found.

    Except those questions are only to the few people who think and care, the majority of the ones in the position of abusing and harassing Zoe and others do not actually care about her work or improvement of an industry. A large enough group found wrong in the details of her private life that they strung together an argument after justify their own selfish feelings. Selfish feelings they felt must be shared and shared directly, leading to others joining in and then ultimately the veil of “Who can you trust?” is put over the the festering swarm of hate to cover each individuals feeling on Zoe’s personal life that many simply feel is “wrong”.

    Why is it wrong? They do not know they just created it and to not seem like petty abusive people they created the crusade of “How can you trust such people! Who else is untrustworthy!” and they feel justified to bully because they are right and the other person is wrong, why? They do not know but they will find something and if enough people believe it then it much be true.

    This is mob mentality. Action first, excuses second, reasons third, evidence one millionth.

    They feel what other people have done is wrong and must be punished and the easiest method is to destroy. They do not care about improvement they just care about cutting out the “Cancerous” part, no other treatment just cut it and if it is close enough to the source CUT THAT TOO!

    That what I really dislike about the whole situation is the only people who are learning from this are the people who could be next and they are only learning to improve the industry just to save themselves. This is wrong.

    They should not have to scared to change or improve. They should be advised and criticized. The advice and criticism should be taken on board then the appropriate action when possible should be taken. This would better people, the games industry and the coverage of.

    Instead these actions destroy a person’s life, destroys peoples works and ultimately destroy people’s perception and respect for everybody. When it it was not needed….this is video games…..not the political rallies that could condemn millions to death.

    It is just electronic media and entertainment people have interactive experience with.

    Find yourself a less volatile industry to be part of and carve out a positive filled niche for yourself and may everyone around to benefit from it.

  33. Mason Proulx says:

    Good on ya Jenn. I can see this is a good move for where you’re at in life.

    I was first aware of you from back when you’d appear on the 1up Retronauts podcast, and from then on whenever I saw your name appear on a byline, I made sure to give it a read. I just really enjoy your work, not because you’ve got interesting things to say about Gabriel Knight and Second Life but because you have interesting this to say, period.

    You were often a proponent of games being just an aspect of our larger culture, even back before thinking this way became fashionable. I’m thankful for writers like you who continue to look past games as commodity, look past games as identity and contribute to an increasingly more relevant discussion of games as human expression.

    No matter what you do in the future, I foresee no shortage of writers who will continue that discussion. You’ve put in your time, and there’s a lot more world out there to write about.

  34. Drawnder says:

    I am saddened to hear it. Those among the game community that do not engage in such harassment (the majority, regretI’m sure)regret that it’s come to this. May your future endeavors bring you peace/not suck.

  35. ArugulaZ says:

    Words do not express my resentment toward everything that’s happened. You deserved better than this… we all do.

  36. Eddiephlash says:

    Best of luck! Raising a child is hard enough without jerk bags criticizing your every word. Maybe the community will chill out someday and you can join back in.

  37. Adam says:

    FWIW, I have been a fan of your work for a very long time. Although I completely understand why you are leaving, I am still sad to see you go—especially the way you are leaving. Games criticism will be a worse place without your voice, and anyone who can’t see that is a fool.

  38. Shawn Smith says:

    Never stop fighting the good fight!

  39. Erik Hanson says:

    It’s certainly your call, but I wish you could have branched out without having to leave games behind. We’ll miss you.

    If you ever need a place to lay low in Chicago, send me a note.

  40. Justin says:

    Thank you for taking the time to write this and not just drop the mic and be out. I am glad you have other priorities and can keep this all in perspective. I do hope that you find your way back to writing interesting pieces on the game industry at some point as I do think there is a lot of value in good writing from a different perspective. Best of luck to you.

  41. AK says:

    Yeah and I’d walk away from having to do work if people on patreon paid me 2.2k a month to do nothing. Lets be real here, you’re gonna try to keep yourself relevant with the whole #gamergate while “looking” for work so people keep paying you to exist. What a joke, just like your career. You and your friends built an empire on lies and deceit and now it’s tumbling down and you can’t do nothing to stop it.

    • Not the FBI says:

      You’re a disgusting little shitlord.

    • Jenn Frank says:

      The amount I receive on Patreon is unnerving to me, which is why I try to tithe 10% of my earnings to other writers and creators. But with that said, Patreon is simply a mirror of what my readership, collectively, will pay for a month’s worth of writing, and the amount you complain about is reflective of that sum value.

      For what it’s worth—because my own integrity is of paramount importance to me, and because I would not abuse my small, but focused, longstanding reader base—if I can’t produce writing in any given month, I “skip” that month. No one is charged for my “existence.” (Incidentally, I’d initially set the account to “skip” August, but I had an essay in me after all.)

  42. Skip says:

    This was heartbreaking to read. Fuck the patriarchy; I’m sorry this happened to you.

  43. Paul Comrie says:

    Best of luck in this next phase of your career and life, Jenn. Hopefully you get lots more Patreon supporters out of all this and you can write whatever you damn well please indefinitely.

  44. Ido Shoshani says:

    Best of luck with your future endeavors :). I still remember crying from your piece on that dragon cancer.

  45. Kayla says:

    You were amazing on 1UP and you’ll be amazing everywhere you go.

  46. John McDonald says:

    I have read your career since your cm days at 1up. Every year, I have found your essays exceptionally moving and worth rereading years later. You have a true gift for introspective writing that speaks to shared experiences.

    Good luck on the next of your infinite lives.

  47. Dietrich says:

    All the best, Jenn. May your future endeavors be full of rainbows.

  48. junebug says:

    You say you watched so many games journalists walk away. How many?

    • Jenn Frank says:

      One night, I and Jason Wilson—a former Ziff Davis Media copy editor—sat up online trying to think of anyone I ever worked with between Electronic Gaming Monthly, Computer Gaming World, and 1UP.com who still writes. Most of the journalists we worked with have since fled for the safe harbor of game development or PR, or have left the video games industry entirely. (I’ve actually, since “On leaving,” gotten a lot of supportive comments. “I made it to the other side, and I can tell you it’s great!” my ex-colleagues will say.)

      Of the many, many people who staffed the three magazines and the website I’ve seen shutter, I can actually only think of two, Dan “Shoe” Hsu (VentureBeat) and Jeremy Parish (USGamer), who have stayed the journalism course. I guess Robert Ashley is another? But by and large—and if I take into account colleagues I never actually worked with—hundreds? A thousand? More? (Or, in Jason Wilson’s words, “Writers can’t count that high.”)

      No, the average games journalist doesn’t quit because of “sexism” or “injustice” or whatever. They quit because they have families, spouses, kids, because the pay is shit and the hours are lousy. Many—offhand I can think of a Kill Screen editor, who left partly due to “controversy”—simply go off for a Masters degree.

      Game developers have the same problem—the average career lifespan of a AAA programmer is something like five or six years?—and that’s because most finally break or burn out. My career lasted about ten, because writing is comparatively relaxing.

      But the whole thing is toxic, and most people, by the time they have kids, experience some shift in priorities, and they quietly shuffle off.

      There are a few people who have worked as long or longer than I have. Leigh Alexander is one; Ben Kuchera is another, actually. Then, both were able to keep their heads down many, many years before any “harassment” started, I feel? Keith Stuart of Guardian has actually written about games for twenty freaking years. I so admire that. It’s a longevity I’ll never know.

  49. Tabby says:

    I reached out on Twitter too but I just want to say watching this all happen makes me sick to my stomach. I feel awful that this happened to you, that this is happening to women everywhere. Increasingly I’m afraid of what will happen to me or my company if I talk about it too much. (I haven’t really voiced that part before but I feel like this is far enough down in the comment thread that hopefully hardly anyone will see it).

    I’m staying in, because I’ve hardly started and I need to see where being a dev takes me, but I completely understand your reasons for leaving. Your writing is beautiful, it speaks to me, and I will absolutely keep reading no matter what you decide to write about next. After all, it wasn’t really about the games, right? It was about family, life, death, empathy, humanity. Everyone can relate to those.

  50. Funny_colour_blue says:

    …This is really upsetting. I have always enjoyed reading whatever Jenn Frank wrote because she always had something interesting to say about the medium – it didn’t even have to be about video games, the way she mixed philosophy into her articles, always made it interesting to read. In fact, I’d constantly have to hunt whatever she wrote down because she was always so inconspicuous about it.

    …But, this type of harassment that’s going on right now, never would have happened 7 years ago. I just can’t believe it. It’s unacceptable.

    I think, more than anything else, it’s a sign of how harsh things have become: The Internet use to be a place where people could often escape to, but not so much anymore it seems – and that’s really, really upsetting to think about.

  51. Tolladay says:


    I just wanted to say two things. 1) Wherever you end up, whatever you write about, please leave a trail of crumbs. I will happily pay to read your work, and I doubt I’m the only one. 2) You have a bright future ahead of you. You may not see it, but those of us who have gone thought similar changes in their professional lives will tell you its better on the other side.

    bonne chance

  52. Noise Pollution says:

    I understand that some “gamergate-ers” are trying to do good, but I have yet to see any actual good come from it.

    Seeing you leave the industry is pretty disheartening in a situation that has already been bumming me out tremendously.

    I wish you the best of luck, though. And I don’t blame you. I probably would have done the same thing in your situation.

  53. Jason C says:

    Speaking as someone who also left doing something in the field he loved for new responsibilities and also being tired of the bullsh*t, I can respect how hard a decision it was for you.

    I know you know this, but as someone else who has had to walk away, trust me when I say the new fields and perspective will do wonders for your creativity.

    I look forward to what you do from here.

  54. Redbreard says:

    Its a shame, I loved this piece and its sad to see a writer of your talents leaving (Patrick sent me this way with his Worth Reading), I’ll keep my ears and eyes out for more from you in the future be it games or otherwise. But no one should deal with the garbage that’s been around lately, so best of luck to you!

  55. Jonathon Lowe says:


    I’ve followed you since 2005 when you were at egm.

    I fully understand why your leaving the industry and I want to tell you that you will be missed. I will keep an eye out for whatever you do next.

    Best wishes to you and congratulations on getting married and thank you for the good that you do.

  56. LeprosyJones says:

    Hey Jenn, been a fan of your writing for a long time now. Not consistently mind you, but you’re one of the very few game journalists that comes to mind every few months to a year and makes me think “hmm, what’s that Jenn Frank been up to?”. And then I plow through everything you’ve written since the last time I had that thought and really really enjoy it.

    Same goes with Jeremy Parish, which is how I stumbled upon this whole shit storm. Had no idea you got caught up in this BS. I’m gonna miss your writing. As I’ve gotten older I find I’m reading about games way more than I have time to actually you know, game, and folks (like you) who’ve given me such enjoyable and at times seriously poignant reflections on games and gaming mean a lot to me. Gonna miss your stuff. Keep on keeping on.

  57. Sebastian Deusser says:

    Dear Jenn,

    I loved reading your video game stuff since 2006 or so, I will miss your articles, but maybe it is better to leave at the moment. The whole community really went down the drain these last few months, hopefully it will recover from it.

    Good luck, and have a fun live.
    Hopefully you will come back some day..

  58. Andrew says:

    What can I say after reading this article. Good riddance.
    You might be a great person and you might have written some truly amazing reviews/posts. However, from the lack of research and evidence shown here about Gamergate and your stance on it. I doubt very much you write anything worth reading.

    This article proves how little you had to offer to the gaming world. Which is why I say good riddance. This is the one outcome I hope Gamergate has, getting rid of all the worthless game journalist that cannot do their job with any sort of professionalism.

    • A person says:

      Yes. I’m sure a person on receiving end of vitriolic side of gamergate is in no way qualified to speak on behalf of their own personal experience of the movement. If all you have to add is the same old “article says bad things about gamergate? MUST NOT HAVE RESEARCHED ALL THE FACTS” that such pieces attract, then you probably need to step away from the thread.

    • Brad says:

      “I haven’t read any of your work, but am comfortable forming an opinion about you. Anyway, you don’t do enough research.”

      I hope you’re capable of seeing the hypocrisy present. A Person also makes a good point that there aren’t any generalizations being made here absent of evidence. This is primarily a personal account of the experience she had with backlash about writing an anti-harassment article (the irony of which is lost on nearly everyone in said backlash, apparently).

      Did you even read this article? Or did you skim for general negative sentiment about gamergate and assume it was “unresearched?”

  59. no says:

    The world would be a better place if everyone in “games journalism” resigned. Take those communications degrees and high school diplomas and go write copy for the local supermarket circular.

    • Jenn Frank says:

      Do you know, the first day I ever worked in an office, in summer 2006, a coworker asked me, “So what was your major? Communications?” I thought that was so weird.

      No, my degree is in fiction writing, although as a student I studied nonfiction writing under the best living American essayist, Joseph Epstein. (It’s true that nonfiction isn’t the same as “journalism,” but it is the genre we usually mean when we talk about “magazine writing.”)

  60. Dirk Gently says:

    For someone who is “leaving he industry” how come you’re doing the EXACT SAME THING, just for a different publisher…

    Lying cunt.

    • Jenn Frank says:

      I’d like to point out that the new piece is for the same publisher…?

      It’s true that I’d decided I’d prefer to write for a different audience after the first Guardian article was published; however, as a direct result of my quitting, a not-insignificant number of people willfully spread misinformation that I’d been “fired” by the Guardian. That’s injurious slanderous horseshit.

      So when a different Guardian editor pitched a new article to me, it struck me as okay-a-way-as-any to indicate that I was not, in fact, “fired.” (How do you fire a freelancer anyway? Not call her back? Not answer her emails?)

      People have fumed about my audacity to ever work again, but I’ve yet to hear an apology from those who deliberately lied, and actively disseminated the lie, about my being fired. There’s no better way to dispel that lie than by being published a second time by the exact same newspaper, I figure. It sure beats stamping my foot and shouting “I wasn’t fired” into the ether, don’t you think?

      Anyway, I take your point. Thanks.

      • Walter says:

        Oh, look at me, look at me – I’m a Victim Too. Why won’t you look at me.

      • Jenn Frank says:


        I used to use business cards that only had “Jenn Frank” on them, and nothing else. That’s because, up until September, when you googled me only my work came up. It took me five solid years of writing to do that. It took about a week to junk it.

        I didn’t invent this idiotic “victim” narrativeGamergate did, and all the well-meaning (and less well-meaning) people who’ve tried to report on it have helped them. You do realize that’s the actual idea, right? To junk someone’s byline until she can never work again? Not only did I not invent the “victim” bullshit, I actively reject it.

      • Walter says:

        5 years of quality writing do not get junked in a week. People are not stupid! So you do not have a pristine “google search,” so what! They did it to me, they did it to me, honest they did it to me. Woman Up already. If you say you are going to leave, then leave. But no, you’re writing again.

    • Cyberwulf says:

      Gamergate is all about journalistic ethics, everyone. Not misogyny.

  61. Oz0 says:


    I have to say that the patience and good nature with which you have responded to people both here and elsewhere is close to miraculous. Your honesty and integrity would be considered a rarity in pretty much any industry I’ve ever been in, in my years of work. I don’t, and you shouldn’t, doubt that you are one of the good ones.

  62. Shodan2020 says:

    Hi Jenn,
    I’ve been listening/reading to you since the Retronauts days. I’m sad to see you go, because I love your writing and perspective on video games. However, I wish you the very best in your future endeavours!

  63. dude123 says:

    Basically the problem is that you just don’t get it. People are tired of this stuff, Your name is on an article that is inflammatory and biased. A real journalist, and gamer would know that.

    You come off as delusional to admit that you’re biased, but then accept no real responsibility when you’re called out on it.

    If you have been legitimately threatened i’m sorry but that doesn’t mean people shouldn’t be allowed to be critical of what you’ve written. I’d prefer you wake up rather than realise people aren’t buying the bs anymore.

  64. frank jen says:

    You will not be missed; you were awful on podcasts.

  65. Ryan Johnson says:

    Everyone commenting in 2014 was right… you are missed.
    I hope you are doing great in your new (well not so new anymore) career.
    someone you helped a lot without even realizing it

  1. Links: 09/12/14 — The Radish.
  2. Moving Forward | Tiny Construct
  3. Internet Rage And Why It Has To Stop | My Thoughts Are Pollution
  4. A Special Radio Transmission: Leaving Disneyland, And Other Metaphors | Sufficiently Human
  5. Videogames and Death Threats - Blog by CuteIgor_III - IGN
  6. Opinion: On GamerGate | The Games Box Blog
  7. GamerGate: What happens next? |

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