April 27, 2011
The Gay Gamer interviews Anna Anthropy, author of the upcoming Rise of the Videogame Zinesters, about the game Lesbian Spider-Queens of Mars.
Excerpts from the Q&A:
GG: You’ve suggested via Twitter that the folks at Adult Swim either asked you to censor the game (by covering up nipples, etc.) or censored the game for you after you turned it in to them. Can you tell me a bit more about that? What happened, exactly, and how do you feel about the whole situation?
AA: The values of Adult Swim’s standards and practices committee are bizarre to me. My game is incredibly dirty–there’s a subtext to the game that’s much more dirty than a bunch of nipples. But the nipples are what concerns them. We compromised that I could keep everyone topless if I got rid of their nipples, though the nipples allowed me to draw breasts that were shaped much more like real breasts–without them I had to redraw them to be more recognizable as pairs of distinct breasts.
GG: Did you expect such censorship going into this project, or was it a surprise?
AA: I was surprised when they asked me to get rid of the cross, because these are the people who published BIBLE FIGHT and also because it’s the stereotypical thing that publishers censor in video games. I changed the cross to a candle–my slave’s suggestion–but the room it appears in is still shaped like a cross. Go figure.
GG: Another topic you’ve addressed on Twitter is the somewhat negative, or in some cases dismissive, reaction the game has received from much of the gay press. Why do you think gay bloggers/writers have responded to the game that way?
AA: I was particularly surprised with how dismissive the Queerty post was, comparing the game unfavorably to Dragon Age 2. These queer and feminist websites will post an article every so often asking “where are the riot grrls of gaming?” but ultimately these blogs will give much more face time to a corporate game like Dragon Age–one that allows players to be ambiguously queer just as a virtue of how generic it is–than a game that is confrontationally queer made by actual queer women.
GG: Have you found that lesbian bloggers/gamers have responded more positively to it than their gay male (and even straight male) counterparts? If so, why do you think that is?
AA: Lots of queer and trans women have said good things to me about the game, which is ultimately the thing I want most from my games: To make a space in games culture for other queer women to feel safe raising their voices, to get other queers and pervos excited about game creation.
GG: What’s the one thing you want people–LGBT or otherwise–to get out of playing this game?
AA: A big fat orgasm.
GG: Pretty much every one of your games includes an LGBT character or storyline of some sort. Is that simply because you’re gay, or are there other reasons you tend to include LGBT characters/storylines in your games?
AA: Well, who would I make games about if not myself? I’m a perverted queer transwoman–I’m not going to make a game about a boy who hates his dad and wants to bone a princess. That’s why it’s so important to me to make my voice heard, though: There are so few games by and about queer women.
GG: Why do you think so few of your colleagues in the industry do the same (include LGBT characters/storylines in their games)? Is it because most of them aren’t LGB or T? Or maybe it’s because even in this day and age there still isn’t a much of a market for games that feature LGBT characters and/or storylines?
AA: Video game publishers cater to a very specific, exclusive culture: Straight manchildren. Because they’re the ones immersed in the culture of video games, the ones who all the video games are designed for, they’re the ones who become excited about making games and become the next generation of game developers. then they make games with their values, intended for an audience that is themselves. It’s a vicious cycle. People to whom video game culture is hostile and dismissive do not tend to be the people who make space in their lives for making video games. That’s something I’m trying to change: To get people like me excited about creating games outside the established games culture.