Anna Anthropy on Games

April 30th, 2009 | Posted by Joe Tortuga in Link-out

This will be the second time I’ve linked to something involving Anna Anthropy (a.k.a Aunti Pixelante), but I think she’s got a particularly different take on games and play than what we usually hear. I feel this (too short) interview highlights some of that:

The videogame medium is being held hostage by a small group of people, or it would be if big games publishers really were the gatekeepers to the medium they want to be perceived as. The increasing accessibility of game authorship means that games are becoming culture-created and communicated in the same ways as all other culture-instead of “game culture.”

When asked about her sexuality and how it affects her game (she’s known for games like Mighty Jill Off, for instance) she says this:

A videogame is a space constructed out of communication, and communication is the realm in which flirtation and seduction happen, where desire and love are both expressed and explored. It’s a space for role-playing and for exploring fantasy. Of course it has an erotic nature.

And there’s the complicity of the player, that the audience is a participant in the telling of the story.

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3 Responses

  • Joe, do you agree with Anthropy that the broadening of potentiality in games is resulting in (or should result in) the loss of “game culture” or “gamer culture,” rather than resulting in a corresponding broadening precisely of game culture?

    I continue to be mystified by the calls simply to reject game culture in favor of building something new, rather than, frankly, leveraging the (as I see it) many constructive elements of community that are already present in game culture to help realize games’ expressive potential.

    Yes, there’s a very broad streak of homophobia in gamer culture–but shouldn’t that be seen by smart people like Anthropy as a teachable moment, rather than a reason to turn away?

  • JoeTortuga says:

    Hmm, Roger, I don’t see that as what she’s saying. I think she’s saying that game creation (and thus the transmission of game culture) is becoming so accessible that it’s not limited to the hardcore and the companies that pander to them. The tools for creating games are becoming available to ordinary people and these people are spreading the culture as well.

    I know that her history is one of antagonism with/against the AAA games industry, the schools that prepare people to work in that industry, and the limitations that puts on what kinds of games will be produced.

    (To some extent Anthropy is a hardcore gamer, her games and aesthetic lean toward the difficult and masochistic/masocore game styles)

  • Thanks for linking to my interview, Joe. I also think it’s too short, though I expect to be crossing paths with Anna again in the future.

    Roger, I don’t think Anna actually calls for the rejection of mainstream game culture.

    The beautiful thing about Anna, and about many experimental indie-game creators, is that they can turn the alienation that mainstream gamer culture creates and use the tools of the medium to create something more inclusive.