Choose Your Own Anna Anthropy Interview

By Cara Ellison on June 20th, 2012 at 2:00 pm.

What would our mothers say?

When you interview Anna Anthropy, you can’t just print those words on the page. Something special has to happen. That’s what RPS correspondent Cara Ellison has done for us after she spoke to the Lesbian Spider Queens of Mars/Mighty Jill Off developer. There’s discussion of why gaming matters, why games should be more personal, and Anthropy’s recently published a book, Rise of the Videogame Zinesters. So please, choose your own interview.

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97 Comments »

  1. caddyB says:

    Beautiful.

  2. Lucifalle says:

    Wow, what an incredibly creative interview of an amazing woman. And a link to Autostraddle too!
    RPS, are you becoming a lesbian website? Because I sure as hell wouldn’t mind ;).

    • BobsLawnService says:

      Honest question. How is that hate speech?

      • sinister agent says:

        Yay! An orphaned comment, ripe for the manipulating. Let’s see now….

        How dare you say that about the Chinese! You terrible person.

      • sinister agent says:

        Bah. Comments have broken again. I hate you all.

      • Lucifalle says:

        Hmm, hate speech? Did I miss something *looks confused*.
        Just to clarify, I am an extremely queer woman XD. And a great fan of Ms. Anthropy and Autostraddle.
        Not to mention vidyagames :).

  3. hosndosn says:

    RPS could just cut the bad-pun-headlined press-release coverage and go full Kill Screen for all I care. This is awesome.

  4. MistyMike says:

    A. Anthropy would like to see games as a vehicle for left-wing political ideas. But games are not a good tool for propaganda, for the same reasons they are not a good ‘storytelling medium’. At the heart of the game lies engaging the player by presenting a challenge to accomplish or a problem to solve. The ideological framework can be there, but its secondary. Therefore her games are mere curios, good for blog fodder, bad for raising awereness about anything or actually having fun playing.

    • John Walker says:

      But that’s simply nonsense. Games have been good storytelling media for 30 years. Clearly story is a weakness in very many games, but that doesn’t mean it always is, certainly not. Let alone that a game is inherently not able to present an ideology. How can a game *not* present an ideology?

      • Meat Circus says:

        Single-player games are by their nature individualist, almost libertarian. They give you a Universe, and a problem, and a set of tools, and then tell you to “get on your bike” and solve them. If you’re lucky the game might throw a few hints, but you can be reasonably certain a benevolent social democratic state isn’t going to step in and finish itself for you when you get into difficulties.

        Basically, games are Norman Tebbit.

        • hbarsquared says:

          Nope. Games (particularly of video sort) are pure dictatorships. They present a problem, and a limited set of tools that they have decided you can use to solve the problem. If the developer does not want you to solve a problem in a particular way, it is not allowed. In an FPS, if you do not wish to solve problems by shooting men in the face, you no longer have a game. In a puzzle game, if you do not wish to solve problems by lining up three jewels of the same color/type, you no longer have a game. Even in open-world games, the engine has a defined set of actions which have a designed set of results. If you want to perform actions that are not allowed, you no longer have a game.

          There is absolutely nothing ‘libertarian’ about games, because all possible actions must be predetermined. Allowing the illusion of freedom via restrictive choice is a long-standing tradition of a purely dictatorial system.

          • Meat Circus says:

            But take Skyrim. It’s basically a Randian wet dream, right?

            With enough time, effort and ruthlessness, you can become one of the angular-jawed ubermenschen she used to flick herself off to.

          • DrGonzo says:

            This isn’t really true. It can be. But look at emergent gameplay. I’m sure any game student is sick of hearing it.

            Essentially the rocket jump. They set up a bunch of rules in the game, but they didn’t predict people to use it in such a way. It wasn’t a predetermined ability in the game, someone figured it out.

          • SeeBeeW says:

            Allowing the illusion of freedom via restrictive choice is a long-standing tradition of libertarianism.

          • jmtd says:

            The rocket jump wasn’t as emergent as one might think. Firstly, you were required to perform a horizontal rocket jump/boost to reach the secret level in the third episode of doom (before quake). Secondly, there is at least one secret in quake which cannot be reached without a rocket jump.

        • Grygus says:

          Not all political debate is along such simplistic lines, though; the set of tools is not infinite, and the choices made there will make a statement. The environment’s starting position can be a political statement. The nature of the problem presented can be a political statement.

          This does not have to be overt. For example, the vast majority of MMOs are set up like meritocracies. That’s a political statement, even if a lot of developers are probably mostly unaware of it.

          • Dervish says:

            No, it’s an MMO design statement. “Political statement” implies a normative claim about real-world politics; creations in virtual worlds do not automatically translate to analogous endorsements in the real world. Nor would the analogies hold in most cases, given how relatively constrained and simple MMOs are. But yes, people will do their best to invent messages regardless.

          • Grygus says:

            @Dervish: I did not invent it. One of the designers of MUD, Richard Bartle, has explicitly said that it was a political statement, specifically a protest of Britain’s class system. Everyone who has simply copied that is making the same statement, whether they realize it or not, just like people who parrot what they hear without understanding it will always do.

        • Salvian says:

          Meat Circus makes a good point about Skyrim. Realism (in a literary sense- the individual as sovereign subject defined by choices or what-have-you) has always been a stong current in CRPGs, and I’ve often wondered about this. I suppose it stems in part from the ideology of these games’ pulpy literary forbears, but I wonder to what extent this is also a necessary component because of formal constraints or generic tropes that developers are uninterested in testing. It’s a real pity that Bethesda always treat bandits/raiders as little more than mindless psychopaths who exist to be mowed down by the hero. Then again, killing baddies and taking their stuff is fun.

          I suppose a counterexample would be something like Fallout: NV, where trying to be the awsome hero and make everything go your way doesn’t necessarily work out all that well, and the ‘bad guys’ and ‘good guys’ are both human and flawed. Have Obsidian created some kind of, I don’t know, ‘Ludic Naturalism’ ?

          Also, to be fair to other RPGs, their libertarian bent is often qualified by things like Ultima’s virtues, being the Prophesied Chosen One, etc., which at least make an attempt to fit the PC into some kind of broader social context, even if it is (necessarily?) a bit hollow and artificial, so perhaps what we’re talking about is more like a traditional liberal/conservative discourse.

        • Phantoon says:

          What are cheat codes in this metaphor? It’s become too meta for me.

        • DXN says:

          I dunno, I think you could just as easily say that games “are” collectivist and/or authoritarian. After all, what’s the life expectancy of the average lone videogame hero? Five minutes? The only way he or she can actually complete the game is by having quickload immortality and foreknowledge. Without that, pretty much every incarnation of FPS Guy/Gal would complete only a pitifully tiny percentage of their mission, which I think is quite instructive.

          And indeed, what else helps them? Often a remote authority (the ubiquitous Voice In The Ear) who knows more than you, can somehow see everything that’s going on, and guides your actions for (usually) the greater good, even if they often mislead you in the process… as well as whatever force it is that ensures the hero is always within searching distance of plentiful, free supplies, healthpacks, conveniently unlocked doors, etc. If anything, games tend to show how impossible it is to effect serious change on your own, even if you are a Badass Videogame Hero.

    • 2helix4u says:

      @MistyMike
      I guess you’ve missed the whole FPS genre being taken over for a while by games involving the triumph of americas military over their enemies of the hour. I’ve taken expensive warmachines to Russia, Afghanistan, Iran and defended the US against fuckin’ North Korea.
      Games are a good tool for propaganda precisely because they are engaging and interactive. I’m not saying that the modern warfares and BF3s of the world are -good- propaganda but look at fucking black ops, they re-write America and the CIA’s greatest failures into heroic action movies. The fucking bay of pigs ends with Fidel Castro’s double using a woman as a human shield before you are betrayed and the real Castro makes an evil guy speech over you.
      Its really not far from Donald Duck beating up Hitler or whatever.

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      RaveTurned says:

      Interesting viewpoint. To pick two examples that spring to mind, do you consider the McDonalds Videogame or Sweatshop to bad at raising awareness, or simply not fun?

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      Llewyn says:

      A. Anthropy would like to see games as a vehicle for left-wing political ideas

      I think that she would actually like to see games as a vehicle for everybody’s ideas, where those ideas are not currently over-represented in the gaming mainstream. It sounds like her personal views are somewhat independent of her advocacy of game-making. Of course, I’d be very curious to see this put to the test.

    • MistyMike says:

      30+ years of gaming and still no game story succesfully entered mass consciousness. Your avarage person has no idea what Gordon Freeman or Larry Laffer stand for.

      Games can express a worldview or ideology mostly as a side effect of its setting/gameplay. I really can’t see war shooters warming people to the idea of US global hegemony, or aforementioned edutainment games really influencing peoples choices about consumer goods. Actively promoting a viewpoint isn’t something games do well, cause when playing one only cares about winning in game terms, not real world consequences.

      • deejayem says:

        I think you’re underestimating how subtly culture works. You don’t have to engage with or encourage cultural assumptions directly or through heavy-handed allegory (“actively promoting a viewpoint”); you can do that quite subtly through the assumptions the audience is encouraged to make. The Sydney Morning Herald article on Metro 2033 that Jim linked in the last Sunday Papers is a good example – a political (or at least ethical) message quite subtly conveyed through shooter mechanics.

        As for gaming stories not entering mass consciousness, try telling that to the Pokemon/Halo obsessives I used to teach every day …

        • MistyMike says:

          But as I see it Antrophy is all about blatant let-them-see-us activism, not subtlety.

          Pokemon and halo dudes are surely iconic charachters, but they’re not really known for story. What’s the story of Pokemon anyway? A guy travels between towns and wins tournaments?

          • Eddy9000 says:

            No, the message doesn’t have to be subtle, the way the media interacts with social attitudes is subtle. The media is both a product of social attitudes and an influencer on them, and different types of media form a milieu, all interacting with each other, wider social attitudes and the attitudes of their audiences.

            Think about the attitudes that have to exist for pokemon and Halo to exist, they didn’t just appear from nowhere. Pokemon is a hymn to capitalism, about wanting until you have everything, and about the inferiority marketed to consumers for not having everything. To have less is to be less, ‘you gotta have em all’ even when this means buying the same game twice to unlock rare ones. Halo couldn’t exist without the influence of militaristic attitudes in the west, it is about shooting and killing things. There is a reason why so many games are about that and why people want to play them. There is also an apocolyptic theme, that the galaxy could be destroyed. In many ways it is a game that reflects the western privilege of individualism, one man, marked as different and more powerful than the rest destroying a collectivist ‘flood’. Master chief is basically representative of Nietzsche’s idea of the ‘ubermensch’.

            The ‘story’ of a game can be different and broader than its narrative or storyline, that’s the beauty of games. My favourite story in a game is Osmos, a story of struggle, having to consume others to avoid being consumed, losing a part of yourself with every effort.

          • MistyMike says:

            @Eddy9000

            That’s an atypical view of Pokemon for sure…I only have fragmented knowledge of the game, but as far as I remember the critters are not purchased, but rather captured in the wild and then trained. The trainer is akin to a botanist who strives to collect every specimen. I can’t really see a ‘you are worth as much as you own’ kind of attitude there.

            Anyways, you are all right that games express ideologies. But if one wants to influence societal attitudes the production of agitprop games isn’t really the way to go, IMHO.

          • Eddy9000 says:

            I agree that it might not be a great deconstruction of pokemon, but the point is that we’re thinking about it, about what allowed it, and actually I really like your reading of it.

            As for whether games are the best medium, I’d say they’re as good as any, change has to start somewhere and different people have different means!

      • zooey says:

        That’s a terrible argument. Do you think that the average person knows what Thomas Sutpen, Robin Vote, or Leopold Bloom stand for?

        • MistyMike says:

          Why aim so high? They do know who Harry Potter or Forrest Gump are.

    • Merus says:

      If games are not a good storytelling medium, they are a bad medium for humans. Humans are storytelling animals. We instinctively take a series of events and try to turn them into a narrative.

      • misterT0AST says:

        According to Freud, humans are also sexual animals. We turn everything into sex.
        According to Aristotle, we’re social animals, we turn every human relation in a social unon.
        According to Marx, all of human relationships and all history can be constrained in laws of economy.
        According to Hobbes humans are hostile animals, and everything we do is to achieve supremacy.

        I don’t know in what magazine you read that “storytelling animals” crap, but it seems just another try to reduct humans to ONE thing.
        Humans are many things. We are complex. We tell stories, create laws, exchange goods, have sex, wage war, and do lots of stuff.

        That got me much more upset than it should have.

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          Okami says:

          He’s got that one from Terry Pratchett.

        • etho says:

          Well, sure, humans aren’t JUST storytellers. But as near as I can tell, we are the ONLY storytellers. All those other things you mentioned are done, to some extent, by other animals, but I can think of no others that tell stories. It seems a fairly uniquely human characteristic. And I don’t think he was trying to say that is ALL that humans are, just that that is an important part of what humans are, and as such, an important part of what humans do. (e.g. make and play games)

        • Eddy9000 says:

          Yeah, you probably shouldn’t of got that upset, because in many ways he’s right. There’s plenty of evidence that long term memories are stored as language and structured narratively, and that we select information based on the ‘story’ we have about the world (people who have a story about themselves being bad drivers will not notice the times they are good drivers for example). Our brains also contain pattern making and recognising areas that make consistencies and differences in our understanding of the world salient.
          I appreciate that “people are the XXXXXX animal” is overdone, but it isn’t innappropriate in this case.

          And also Neil Gaiman is the big ‘all we know are stories’ man in popular fiction.

      • cjlr says:

        Sex, socialising, economics, storytelling, conflict…

        Clearly we’re just interacting animals. As is to be expected from a species that lives in groups. But that is a truism so reductive as to be mostly meaningless and entirely useless – but at least one we can all agree on. Hooray!

    • pipman3000 says:

      the stories games should tell are ones about how bad the writers break-up was or how sad death is here’s how i’d improve some games stories

      skyrim: ulfric is rebelling because his girlfriend broke up with him. he is racist because she left him for a dark elf.
      mass effect 3: the reapers are destroying all life because they’re sad about death
      the witcher 2: triss breaks up with geralt because he won’t stop sleeping with random women. the plot is about geralt devouring tubs of ice cream and posting on reddit about how she’s too dumb to see what a nice guy he is, letho is a jerk and a jock who will probably cheat on her unlike him, etc, etc.
      diablo 3: trick question, every blizzard game is about the authors break-up. why else do you think every one of their games has an evil, lying, conniving bitch of a woman who betrays the main character to join the side of evil.

      • The Random One says:

        I like how you’re making fun of the concept and yet I’d enjoy any of those games way more than SHOOTY SHOOTER XII: RUSSIANS THIS TIME

        • Grygus says:

          SS XI was so behind the times graphically. Is this one on a new engine?

      • sinister agent says:

        You seem to be under the impression that nobody can tell a story without just superimposing their own experiences directly onto a character verbatim. I’d give an example to demonstrate just how ridiculously simple-minded this is, but it’s a lot easier to just say “absolutely every work of art in human history”.

    • Porpentine says:

      Sorry to break it to you, but personal human experiences aren’t “left-wing political ideas”. Learn some empathy.

      • MistyMike says:

        Putting the personal experiences of people from ‘marginalized’ groups in the forefront is itself a left-wing political idea, like it or not.

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          Okami says:

          wow

        • etho says:

          LOL, as the kids are wont to say.

          I’ve never seen it said quite so bald-facedly that right wing political movements are not concerned with the needs and desires of marginalized groups.

          • MistyMike says:

            Well, I surely haven’t seen any conservative speak about the need to end the opression of BDSM aficionados. Probably because… they are not being opressed in any way.

          • Eddy9000 says:

            They aren’t traditionally. I know wikipedia isn’t the be all and end all but:

            “Inequality is viewed by the Right as either inevitable, natural, normal, or desirable,[1] whether it arises through traditional social differences[4] or from competition in market economies.”

          • Kaira- says:

            Conservatives aren’t strictly bound on left-right-axis even though some people would want to believe so.

          • pipman3000 says:

            some conservatives are bound by fluffy hand-cuffs and gimp-suits and definitely don’t want anyone to believe so :D

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          oceanclub says:

          So, er, wait, any game featuring, say, a black woman is automatically left wing? What about “Bioshock 2″, which features a black woman and is actually a critique of hard-left politics?

          P.

          • MistyMike says:

            Well, a game that ‘features’ a black woman is not a necessarily a game about ‘the experience of black women’.

          • pipman3000 says:

            it’s still left wing propaganda because it doesn’t portray all black people as racial stereotypes straight out of a right-wing politicians worst nightmares.

            what if a right-wing person plays the game and gets offended because she doesn’t have a bone stuck in her hair or try to cannibalise a white man?

          • Phantoon says:

            I was going to contend your statement about Ayn Rand being “hard left”, but then remembered the rest of the world is backwards.

    • Phasma Felis says:

      A. Anthropy would like to see games as a vehicle for left-wing political ideas. But games are not a good tool for propaganda, for the same reasons they are not a good ‘storytelling medium’. At the heart of the game lies engaging the player by presenting a challenge to accomplish or a problem to solve. The ideological framework can be there, but its secondary. Therefore her games are mere curios, good for blog fodder, bad for raising awereness about anything or actually having fun playing.”

      Let me just translate that for the viewers at home: “Assertive dykes are scary and threaten my worldview, but awkwardly badmouthing them makes me feel better.”

      Actually that works for all the rest of your posts too.

  5. MondSemmel says:

    I haven’t read the interview yet, but I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed Mighty Jill Off – it was a short, free platformer with an interesting jumping mechanic. Great, short game.
    Lesbian Spider Queens of Mars was a good game, too, but I preferred Mighty Jill Off.

  6. StranaMente says:

    I downloaded Twine and studying the tutorial. I think this is the program simple enough to let me experiment with storytelling.
    Thanks!

  7. Lucifalle says:

    Now I got stuck on Autostraddle… it’s like my very own TVTropes. Goodbye summer day.

    • Phantoon says:

      THAT’S A TERRIBLE WEBSITE!

      Because it loads slowly. Took my browser like a minute to load it!

  8. Eclipse says:

    HTTP Error
    You are standing at the entrance to Castle Shotgun. The gates are securely locked, with an unappealing sign on the front. The sign reads “Whoops! RPS is having a bit of a wobbly. Don’t worry, we’ll be back soon!”

    To the left of the gates is a large opening in the wall, which Jim is leaning into. John is perched on a small rock nearby, while Alec and Tim are standing on the other side of the gates. A pile of magazines is scattered in a corner.

    You can see Jim, John, Tim, Alec and a Refresh Button here.

    >talk Jim
    I didn’t understand that sentence.

    >help
    That’s not a verb I recognise.

    >fuck
    Real adventurers do not use such language.

    >yes I do
    I only understood you as far as wanting to yes.

    >I want to yes
    I only understood you as far as wanting to take inventory.

    >take inventory
    You are carrying:
    a strange love of jetpacks
    an opinion on just about everything

    >I really do love jetpacks
    I only understood you as far as wanting to take inventory.

    >dude that’s not going to work
    That’s not a verb I recognise.

    >I know
    I only understood you as far as wanting to take inventory.

    >jesus…
    That’s not a verb I recognise.

    >that’s not a verb.. wait, are you atheist?
    You seem to want to talk to someone, but I can’t see whom.

    >OMG I knew! You godless bastard
    That’s not a verb I recognise.

    • Grygus says:

      How does really do love jetpacks make you feel?

    • Carachan1 says:

      I like you. From now on, all comments to be in text adventure format

      • The Random One says:

        You want me to combine comments and text adventures?

        I can’t use those things together!

    • Dreforian says:

      Between this and Lesbian Spider-Queens Of Mars I may or may not be acutely reminded of Leather Goddesses of Phobos which I may or may not have run into and tried playing (as my first text adventure experience) on Gametap back in the day. Possibly.

  9. Dr I am a Doctor says:

    Why is there a buck-toothed batman cosplayer licking a dude’s crotch up there?

    • Carachan1 says:

      It’s not a Batman Cosplayer! It’s Jill from the Mighty Jill Off. And she’s licking her Queen’s knee high boots. You should play Mighty Jill Off. It is one of the hardest and most enjoyable platformers I’ve played. Fo sho.

      • Dr I am a Doctor says:

        And that’s better than what I wrote exactly how?

    • cjlr says:

      I too was struggling to find a context for that image.

      It is a good title, too – it only made sense when I thought, Jack & Jill…

  10. Totally heterosexual says:

    This interview turned me on.

    A lot…

    Someone reply to me! It’s the closest thing to a sexual stimulation in RPS comments!

    • cjlr says:

      The username totally sells this comment. Don’t you know sexual stimulation is un-British?

      Unfortunately I’m now unpleasantly imagining our gravatars getting intimate.

    • Carachan1 says:

      Interviewing is a hot and steamy process. You get close to the person, you ask them intimate questions, you see a little slice of who they are…

      Phewf. Man, you should try it.

  11. cjlr says:

    There’s one point I found really interesting in that. Anna mentioned several times the output that comes from large production studios, how that hundred person staff isn’t going to produce a personal work; not on the scale of a collaboration between a few individuals (as some of her projects). And yet she says that the best films are those where the director’s touch is evident.

    It seems like a bit of a disconnect, to me, really. Film is and can be a hugely collaborative process. A big production involves hundreds of people. Even smaller films. And everything from costumes to lighting to foley need to sell it – yes, part of the great director’s talent is knowing who to work with, and have working for them, but each person puts a bit of their own touch in. I talked to some lighting guys in Toronto, once. They know when they’ve done a good job or an okay one, and they are damn proud of the good jobs. It seems rather unfair to say that can’t happen with video games. Maybe nobody wants to just do polygon shading, but if you’ve got polygons, somebody has to shade them! And if that person is working on something they’re inspired by, they’re going to do it well, and they’re going to put a unique touch on it.

    There are a few (very few) gaming personalities who we might say have their own style, despite being a part of large productions: Gilbert and Schafer, Peter Molyneux, Will Wright, Sid Meier. Come to think of it, that’s mostly older personalities, when teams were naturally smaller… Mostly that’s due to the nature of the design and creative process behind the things themselves. A lot of big games are very much the brash, stupid, designed-by-executive-committee-to-maximise-third-quarter-returns type of production. But so are lots of films. They can be entertaining, but that’s not the ones we think of when we discuss authorial signature – obviously, and as noted! But there are big movies where that touch is maintained. Lord of the Rings, say. [Original] Star Wars. Apocalypse Now, if you want something a little smarter. Blade Runner. Goodfellas. Game developers have their own styles – hard to mistake the hand of Ice Pick Lodge. But even larger studios try to have a distinct personality. Volition. Relic. Even, dare I say, outfits like Naughty Dog or Bioware. Where I’d give no argument is that we could do with a hell of a lot more of this sort of thing.

    I know it’s against the indie eithos (which is really the punk ethos returned) to say so, but there’s just a logistical limit to what individuals can do even in collaboration. It’s generally considered to be the 1970s where film personalities gained enough control to say to backers, “screw you, we’re doing this my way”. I can only hope we’re almost at that point in big gaming.

    • Skabooga says:

      Much like with dinosaurs, I like having many game studios of all sizes. From one-person to 100-strong teams, developers at either extreme of the spectrum or in the middle of it produce works which the others are incapable of making.

      • LennyLeonardo says:

        There’s no scientific evidence to show that dinosaurs like this.

  12. The First Door says:

    That was a fantastic and unexpected interview! Will have to go check out that book now.

    I feel quite bad than I’d never played one of Anna Anthropy’s games until I played Dys4ia a month or so ago. It was much more moving that I thought it’d be and handled what can be difficult and confusing topics incredibly well. My play through of it ended up with me getting into a conversation about gender perception with people in my office, too so I suspect it worked in that respect. It definitely made me want to play more of her games, at any rate!

  13. daz_uk says:

    I know I’ll be in the minority here, but I don’t get the amount of hero worship?
    I’ve checked out some of the stuff (not all, as yet) and I’m mystified why it’s popular.

    Mighty Jilloff has some of the worst gameplay mechanics I have seen and the music is dire. Thematically it is what a ‘Carry On’ film would be like in 2008. Titillation but with a twist, because there’s only so many double entendre’s can be done about nob and b*llocks so lets get the whips and chains and leather out instead.
    I dunno, I suppose I have to play more of these to form an opinion properly but if this is the kind of game I’m supposed to be making then, I’m out!

    It’s not that I don’t get it, I’ve been playing and making games as a job for many years, and just maybe I’m one of the jaded, lifeless souls in the games industry she is talking about? I guess the craze for retro 8-bit-esque games is getting very, very tired now. Just because something had 16 colours or less and a jaunty soundtrack back on the C64 does not make it a classic in my eyes (though some of them are). Gameplay has evolved since then and they are good to refer back to but even as amateur’s with low budgets, we can do better than pixel art (and we should).

    Oh and yes, I’ll put my money where my mouth is soon! I’m more than willing to celebrate other peoples work when I think it is of merit so if you want to tell me which of her titles is best and why, then please do! When i release my stuff you can rip it to bits as well ;)

    • Grygus says:

      You don’t think there is any value to having serious restrictions on the creative process? Some people seem to work better that way.

      • Phantoon says:

        Most people, you mean. And when I say most, I mean all save for people like James Cameron when the technology is where they want it. Until then? All. Like Peter Molyneux for instance- whenever someone keeps him from getting out of control, the game is great. When he’s given complete creative control with no one to rein in his giant ideas, the game is always half finished, and never as good as he wanted. Other people need constraints to be creative.

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      RobF says:

      Who said you had to make games like what Anna makes? I don’t understand.

  14. tossrStu says:

    I LOVE the creativity of this, but it’s tricky to read it because my laptop display is 1366×768 and the iframe that the interview’s in is 900 pixels tall, which means a LOT of awkward scrolling is required. Any chance you could reduce the height to 700 pixels or so to help out us sub-1680×1050 folks? Cheers!

  15. GT3000 says:

    Autostraddle clearly has no idea what makes a woman hot. Especially when Rachel Maddow and Ellen DeGeneres is in the top 10. (1st and 4th respectively.) Especially when that classification is a physical one.

    • Chelicerate says:

      Whoa, man, it’s almost as if there isn’t a single standard of beauty.

      Crazy, right?

  16. Premium User Badge

    Rinox says:

    “both my girlfriends at the time”

    Damn. Player alert!

  17. Mordsung says:

    I use gaming to engage my animal brain more than anything. A.A’s games seem a little too front-brain for my personal taste in gaming.

    For me gaming is engaging that inner silverback that wants to beat his chest and hump things into submission.

    I go with watching TED talks/BigThink/SolveForX and the like when engaging the people brain.

    I guess maybe a game could be created that I would find enjoyable that engages the people brain, but so far I’ve found the most fun in letting ape brain run around while gaming.

  18. Worm says:

    Where’s the choice for her to start making good games?

  19. piecewise says:

    So um….whats the draw here exactly? Her games aren’t very good. I mean, Spider queen and Jill off are just like the other thousands of “purposefully Retro” indie games out there; their design seemingly more chosen by the fact that the makers simply can’t do anything more complex then copy 20 year old games then any sort of artistic decision. They’re both tedious and completely uninteresting.

    And then we have Dys4ia, a 5 minute flash game about how being transgender is hard. And while I’m sure criticizing it will get me labeled as some sort of bigot or trans-hater, I just have to say “who the hell cares?” I mean, sure, it’s a interesting subject and all but it’s covered in such bland, disinterested, way; it’s nothing more then little hipstery non-sequiturs with an extremely simple flash game stuck on to it for illustrative purposes. It’s got no real insight beyond the most incredibly simplistic and shallow clichés. “Society does not like transgender”, “Doctors are annoying.” “Sometimes people call me sir.” Yes, thank you, how informative. Not only is it not fun but it’s just not interesting. It’s like writing a book about living through a war and having it all be about how bullets hurt and you don’t like being shot and how the food isn’t very good. No deeper insight into your mortality, no contemplation of the meaning of the conflict, no sadness from the loss of friends; nothing but “Bullets hurt.”

    So yeah, shitty flash games and shallow whining about what should be a very deep and interesting subject. Why exactly are we praising her again?

  20. Strangerator says:

    I think the idea of “everyone should make their own game” reflects a total misunderstanding of the nature of games and what they can do. Should games really be directed story experiences, and should they all represent the will of their authors? To me that’s totally limited thinking, because several other mediums are capable of communicating “your story”, why can’t games do something more?

    Games give us the chance to step into the shoes of someone totally different… however, the reason players are typically TOTALLY unable to empathize with characters in games is because we have nothing in common.

    The biggest barrier to empathy between a player and their avatar, is that the avatar is immortal. The ever present nag of mortality is the only thing that allows civilization to exist. Remove mortality and you have an evil dystopia like Eve, where all is endless war and the struggle for power. The vestiges of our mortal motives and survival behaviors remain, but with life’s natural endpoint removed “civilized” society collapses. Civilization, an adaptation humans have created in order to greatly increase our survivability, no longer becomes necessary as soon as our survival is guaranteed. Murder for fun, because why not? What can anyone do to you? And it’s now a victimless crime, because they can’t really die, just be inconvenienced. When not even a darwinian system of judgement remains, all is madness, order ceases to be. Such a disordered existence is made permanent by the lack of death’s “off-ramp”, and I would speculate that the singularity would quickly become a literal hell (but that’s getting to a different topic).

    The second barrier between players and their avatars is the lack of agency. Even in so-called open-ended games players have no agency. We are sometimes given some very superficial options as to the methods with which we reach our pre-determined goals, but the goals are the same for every player. This disconnects the player from their avatar, because we know that we’re not really in control, not when it comes to the things that matter in the fictional world presented. Even more infuriating is the sameness of experience for all players. We are given the ability to customize every aspect of our facial hair but we are given only one path to walk. Sure, it might have very clearly demarcated branches, but it is a path we cannot escape. Death is no escape from this path, because we cannot really die, we simply go backward on the path a little bit. If you’ve ever just stopped playing a game because it got boring, this is the phenomenon you were experiencing.

    These problems will someday be solved by a game that will turn these stale conventions on their heads. I’m developing a solution myself, but you’ll have quite some time to wait I’m afraid. It’s beginning to take shape conceptually, but in removing immortality and giving the player real agency, you have to change pretty much everything else about typical game design. It involves a serialized-ensemble cast all existing in the same world. How long they live, and what they do with their lives, is completely up to the player. Their lives will all intertwine at different points on the timeline, and the endpoint of the story is a certain specific event, that I happen to think is pretty darn interesting.

    /end ramble

  21. daphny says:

    my comment counts as a sequel to the interview, you’ve sold out cara