Quinn was born in 1987 and grew up in a small town near the Adirondack Mountains in New York. Growing up, she often played video games. A favorite of hers was Commander Keen, an MS-DOS game featuring an eight-year-old protagonist who builds a spaceship with items found around his house and then travels the Galaxy defending the Earth. As a teenager, she suffered from depression and was diagnosed with the condition at the age of 14. She has described receiving little sympathy or assistance from school district officials and says they were "less than understanding about teens with depression and suicide issues".
One of Quinn's earliest creative works, Depression Quest, was conceived as a "choose-your-own path" adventure detailing the troubled life of a person suffering from depression. with many of the "correct" paths blocked due to the protagonists' struggle with mental self-care. Quinn thought this sort of game narrative would be a good way to depict depression, imposing a set of rules on players they might not experience in their day-to-day lives. Depression Quest was released in February 2013.
According to The New Yorker, the harassment escalated to the point where Quinn, "fearing for her safety, chose to leave her home" and began working with the authorities to identify those responsible for the harassment. She detailed the experience in an interview on MSNBC's Ronan Farrow Daily, saying that Gamergate represented a rapidly shrinking fringe among an increasingly diverse Gaming community and those attacking Quinn and other women in Gaming needed "to just grow up". Speaking with BBC News, Quinn said the harassment had consumed her life, leading her to feel as if "surrounded by nothing but hate — it's virulent, it's everywhere" and that she was "just trying to survive". The attacks boiled down to "the same accusation everybody makes toward every successful woman: she got to where she is because she had sex with someone" and she also pointed out that Gamergate had targeted "the people with the least power in the industry". "[I] used to go to games events and feel like I was going home... Now it's just like... are any of the people I'm currently in the room with, the ones that said they wanted to beat me to death?" Quinn says her therapist remarked of the harassment, "I don't even know what to tell you, this is so f---ing far outside anything I'm aware of."
On September 24, 2015, she spoke at the United Nations along with Anita Sarkeesian about online harassment. In her speech, Quinn spoke about the need for Technology companies to provide proper moderation and terms of Service which protect marginalized groups. She also raised concerns about providing better protections for transgender women and victims of domestic violence on the Internet.
In September 2017, she published the memoir Crash Override: How Gamergate (Nearly) Destroyed My Life, and How We Can Win the Fight Against Online Hate. The book has received generally positive reviews, with critics praising Quinn's thoughtful, nuanced portrayal of her harassers, but lamenting the book's "scattered" narrative flow. The book was nominated for the 2018 Hugo Award for Best Related Work (i.e., non-fiction work related to science fiction or fantasy).
Quinn is currently working with erotica author Chuck Tingle on a full motion dating sim under the working title "Project Tingler". In January 2018, her role as Narrative Designer at Heart Machine on a new, unannounced project was also announced.