INTERVIEW: Borderlands 2 Writer Anthony Burch Wants More Sex(es In Gaming)
GaymerX is a gaming convention that takes place every year in San Jose, CA. GaymerX is a “queer space”; a convention where panels center on queer themes, but all are invited and welcomed. Unicorn Booty is a proud media partner of GaymerX; to that end, we’ll be interviewing the Bosses Of Honor for this year’s convention.
GaymerX Boss of Honor Anthony “Fuck Jams” Burch was the lead writer on Gearbox Software’s hit Borderlands 2 and also worked on Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. This year, he left Gearbox for RocketJump, an online video network for gamers. He also co-writes/co-stars in Hey Ash, Whatcha Playin‘, a comedy series about video games, and he maintains the blogs No Wrong Way To Play, collecting strange methods of playing games, and Plz Diversify Your Panel, a list of people who refuse to be on panels at conventions made up of only straight, white dudes.
Unicorn Booty: Has harassment affected your work or the work of your peers? If so, how?
Anthony “Fuck Jams” Burch”: If we’re using “harassment” as a synonym for “GamerGate,” I’m happy to say it hasn’t affected me, nor anyone I’ve worked with in the slightest. The vast majority of developers I’ve worked for and with simply don’t know what the hell GamerGate even is. If they’ve heard of it, they have a general sense that it’s a gross, troll-y movement that’s not worth thinking about for more than a few seconds. I’ve seen far more instances of games being made more inclusive or diverse due to fan feedback than I’ve seen, I dunno, developers intentionally cutting characters of color because they’re worried about getting doxxed or something.
Are there any critics or writers in the topic of games that you think are doing interesting work right now?
If you could live in any video game world, which one would it be and why?
Mass Effect! It’s pretty utopian and sweethearted as far as videogame sci-fi goes (its larger theme is “friends are important,” not “we should kill all bad guys”), and basically everyone in the universe seems pretty DTF. (Editor’s note: That’s “down to fuck” in case you didn’t know)
Do you feel that public recognition of the people speaking out against social injustices in gaming has resulted in any beneficial changes?
Yep! I think if you look at how game companies are mainstreaming their female and minority characters in marketing, or how many games are simply creating more diverse casts (Blizzard’s Overwatch being a spectacular example), it’s hard to feel like we haven’t made a noticeable amount of progress in the last few years. Not enough progress, of course — not by a long shot — but I don’t think you get two women of color onstage at the Ubisoft E3 presentation without the fans demanding more diversity.
If you could wave a magic wand and change something about gaming culture as it is, what would it be?
I’d convince AAA developers to stop assuming that women either don’t play games, or aren’t worth earnestly marketing to.
GX3: Everyone Games marks the third year of the GaymerX convention, a meeting of LGBTQ tabletop and console gamers with panels, meet-ups, parties and more! The convention takes place December 11 to 13 in San Jose, California. This year’s Bosses of Honor include RuPaul’s Drag Race alum Trixie Mattel, Mass Effect’s Jennifer Hale, and many, many more! Tickets are available at GaymerX.com.