We were lucky enough to sit down with one “Anna Anthropy”… when we say sit down with we mean do an email interview with. We wanted to find out more about this mysterious lesbian game designer. We loved her game “Calamity Annie” and thought you, like us would like to learn more…. so without further ado….
LG: As the only dedicated lesbian gaming site on the web, why the hell didn’t we know about you before!
Anna: Hey, you tell me!
LG: Was it a conscious decision of yours to create some games with lesbian characters? If so, why did you feel you needed to do that?
Anna: My games are informed by my own experience; it would be strange if the characters weren’t dykes or perverts. But one of my motivations to make games is the distinct lack of real dyke characters and dyke desire in games. We see characters in commercial games who are supposedly dykes, but they’re written by men and drawn by men. They don’t look like us, they don’t express themselves like us, they don’t lust like us. I wanted there to be games that are actually about queer women.
LG: How did you get involved with The Gamer’s Quarter?
Anna: I’m kind of fuzzy on this one. I remember reading the early magazine – I signed on after the second issue had been made, when the magazine hadn’t yet made the transition to print – and being hugely impressed by how personal the stories were. I’ve always been frustrated with mainstream games journalism, which is more interested in trying to quantify games in numbers than investigating the actual experiences games provide (and in which favorable reviews are bought and sold, besides). The personal is ludogical; the magazine’s politics were very much in line with my own, and I came aboard.
LG: You don’t say much about yourself on your pages, is there a reason for that?
Anna: I’ve heard this before, and I’m not entirely sure it’s true. I think I reveal a lot of myself on my pages. I think that since women and queer women in particular don’t have that much of a presence within the “culture” of gaming we’re viewed as a novelty, and hence are expected to reveal more about ourselves than the “typical” gamer-identified boy. There’s a kind of exotica that is ascribed to the game-playing woman by that gamer-identified boy, and game-playing women who don’t go to great lengths to prove they’re real are met with a kind of skepticism. I don’t feel we have to justify ourselves in this way; my games say plenty about who I am.
LG: Have you ever pitched any lesbian games to companies?
Anna: I’ve never pitched any games to companies. By preference, I work outside the videogame Industry. The Industry is so marketing-driven, and so hit-driven, that I don’t feel I’d be able to tell the queer stories that I do now as an independent author. Studios and development teams are also so large that I don’t feel I would be able to develop a game with the focus I enjoy now working alone or with one or two other artists.
LG: Do you think in your lifetime there will be games with openly lesbian characters equally as available as straight characters?
Anna: Well, my games are freeware; that’s about as available as you get. If you mean that there will be as many stories about dykes as there are about hets, then I think that’ll happen only as the Industry loosens its stranglehold on the medium. Right now amateur game developers are gaining more and more avenues for telling their own stories; if there are going to be more stories about queer women in games, they’re going to be written by queer women in an environment where their visions aren’t tempered by the demands of marketing.
LG: What’s the general reaction been to your games?
Anna: Generally my games are more talked about by people who are interested in design. I’m too much of a theory-head for mainstream recognition, and I don’t make enough concessions to players for mainstream success. I have made enough money off of Calamity Annie – entirely through donation – to enter my games in a few competitions and festivals, which is good enough for me.
LG: Some of your games seem to have a big time retro feel to them. Are you a fan of retro gaming and do you own any new consoles?
Anna: I don’t really see it as “retro gaming”; the videogame medium hasn’t been around long enough for there to be old games, and a game that was made twenty years ago still has as much to say to us as a game made today – maybe more so, since the rapid expansion of the Industry has put more and more people between the player and the game. But yes, I own a few of the new consoles, mostly for the downloadable games they offer. I play freeware more often than I purchase commercial games.
LG: Do you have a favorite game of all time and if so what is it and why?
Anna: It’s hard for me to rank games like that: every game that’s interesting to me is interesting for a different reason. But if I had to name something, I’d say either Linley’s Dungeon Crawl or Marathon Infinity. These are both free games, by the way, so “why” is left as an exercise to the reader.
LG: If you could have large scale commercial success with any game you’d created, what would be the premise of the game?
Anna: No one should give me money, I’d just use it to make obnoxious art games. I’d make a first-person game where the player is tied in a cage that is being lowered an inch at a time into a pool of icy water, and the player can’t do anything but move her head and look down at her body as the water climbs slowly over her head.
LG: What is your favorite word?
Anna: “Pervert.” It makes me happy whenever I say it.
LG: What is your least favorite word?
Anna: “Fun.” Just because, as a games critic, I find it far too dismissive. It’s far too ambiguous for insight, and using it to place value on games suggests that games can’t be anything more than simple entertainment.
LG: What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
Anna: Limitations. Probably because my own design is so informed by s&m, but I feel as though limitations force us to design creatively. I recently designed a scenario for a game with ascii graphics: everything’s drawn out of text. That forced me to be really inventive to make things convey, visually, what the player needed to understand, but it also gave me the freedom of not having to draw lots of art for the game.
LG: What turns you off creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
Anna: Business and all the concessions it entails. I had a brief stint with what was supposedly a game design school. In fact, it was a business school disguised as a design school. We were told to think of our instructors as are employers. The focus was entirely on scoring a job in the Industry; there was next to no discussion of actual design. It was the most frustrating four months of my life, which is exactly how long it lasted.
LG: What sound or noise do you love?
Anna: The sounds I like are all pretty pervy. Thwacky noises. Whimpery noises. I’ll let you use your imagination. I also like the sound of rain on a window. and cats talking.
LG: What sound or noise do you hate?
Anna: Television. All it produces is noise.
LG: What is your favorite curse word?
Anna: “Slut”‘s vulgar enough to consider a curse word, right? It’s how I refer to my submissive, and she’d be upset if I didn’t mention her in a Q&A with LesbianGamers.com.
LG: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Anna: I generally don’t like to pigeonhole myself. I also make most of my money off of freelance work, so it’s hard to say what isn’t my profession; if I do something, that’s my work. But there are things I’d still like to try. I’d like to do more photography. I’d like to publish a book.
LG: What profession would you not like to do?
Anna: Anything that involves a lot of time spent in an office.
LG: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
Anna: Well, the cute answer would be “You’ve earned an extra life!” But I think I’d prefer to die satisfied with my work. Maybe she could say, “Hey, good job.”
LG: Who would you turn gay for? (if you are gay then who would be your ideal woman?)
Anna: I’m already a big dyke. “Big” both in terms of mass and intensity. Generally I like the people I love to challenge me, even if they submit to me. I think a strong dynamic is more valuable than a comfortable relationship.
I hope these raise more questions than they answer, so you’ll have an excuse to talk to me again.
We’d like to thank “Anna” for her honest responses and the time taken to take part. We thought this Q & A was really interesting on a lot of levels and we hope you do to.
You can check out Anna’s games at her website AuntiePixelante.com