Author Interview: Anna Anthropy

2018-10-23 · by Natalia Theodoridou
tagged Blog / Interviews

Anna Anthropy is a game designer, author and educator. She teaches game design as DePaul University’s Game Designer in Residence. Her next book, Make Your Own Video Games with Twine!, is out in January. She lives in Chicago with a little black cat named Encyclopedia Frown. She is the author of our October game, Queers in Love at the End of the World.

This interview was conducted via e-mail in October 2018.

Anna Anthropy

                          Anna Anthropy

sub-Q Magazine: “Queers in Love at the End of the World” is a perfect example of interactivity that is integral to the telling of a story–it could not have been told in any other medium. Is that something you strive for in interactive fiction, or perhaps something that drew you to the medium? What can interactive fiction do for us that other forms cannot?

Anna Anthropy: Queers in Love is all about temporality, about structures and systems you have ultimately no control of but can try to build within as best you can. In that sense I think it’s a very queer game. For me a lot of what’s appealing about interactive fiction is its capacity to explode narratives and explore liminal spaces, to play with the hidden frictions between the lines.

sub-Q: “Queers in Love at the End of the World” is one of my favourite pieces of interactive fiction ever. What are some of yours?

Anna: Every quarter in my theory of games class I do a live reading of Winter Lake’s Rat Chaos. It’s I think one of the most perfect examples of a work that communicates its ideas structurally as well as narratively. I have also read from Hannah Powell Smith’s swept up. Some other favorites are alice maz’ Breakfast on a Wagon with Your Partner and Brendan Patrick Hennessy’s Birdland.

sub-Q: Is there a difference between interactive fiction and text-based or text-heavy games?

Anna: Sure but like, not one I care about. I think labels are only useful to the extent that they’re useful to you, and “interactive fiction” has historically been a useful term for authors to position their work a certain way. If it was interesting or provocative or just funny to frame a textless full-motion video game I made as a work of interactive fiction, I would.

sub-Q: Queer games are important, and, like queer content and creators in general, they have been historically underrepresented in mainstream spaces. Has that changed in recent years?

Anna: Well, in 2018, I can turn on my Nintendo console and play games with gay characters in them, I guess that can’t be discounted. But queer representation, while important, doesn’t always equate to queer mechanics. If my Skyrim character is married to another lady but still runs around the landscape plucking butterflies out of the air and killing everything she encounters, I don’t know that a paradigm has meaningfully shifted.

sub-Q: Describe your queer game utopia.

Anna: I’m not much of a utopian thinker any more. But if there’s any impossible dream I would like to see realized, it would be for marginalized creators to be able to make weird, personal, queer, anti-colonialist experimental works and still be able to cover rent and pay for health care.

sub-Q: What’s next for you?

Anna: I’m teaching game design full-time now, so probably more of that! But I have a kids’ book on the way about learning to make games with Twine. It’s close to finished, but the release date keeps getting pushed back — mostly because of the aforementioned full-time teaching.

sub-Q: Anything else you’d like to share? Plugs, asides, little-known facts about yourself?

Anna: I unironically love the Olive Garden.

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