Anne-Marie Schleiner interviewed by Pedro Soler for
1. How did you get interested in games and their modification?
I wanted to make my own game and realized it made more sense to start
with a game modification on an existing game engine. While working on
my first mod I would search on the Internet for shareware apps to do various
things and became aware of other game modders and the whole spectrum of
2. You, along with other artists, did a series of counterstrike
modifications .. can u tell more about these ? did they get adopted by
They were both adapted by counter-strike gamers and, alternately, hated
by many. I have never done a project with so much negative feedback. We
recieved death threats and hate mails from every concievable direction.
I think a big part of the negative reaction
to "Velvet-Strike" was anger over a woman becoming involved in what
has become a very male culture. Another faction were "patriotic"
American boys who percieved our project as an affront on America.
Our project was a series of anti-war protests and interventions. Of
course others were positive or at least interested. And even the
negative feedback I consider a success because it forced people to define
their positions and also forced some strange people to come out of the
woodwork.(The sorts of people you see in Michael Moore's "Bowling for
Columbine") Like Brody has said, I think one of the most interesting parts
of the project is the "flamer gallery" on our site with samples of hate
3. What led u to develop your own games ?
I developed Anime Noir with Melinda Klayman because I wanted to try developing
a game from scratch for once instead of a mod. With mods I usually feel
like at some level I am accepting a paradigm set by the preexisting game
engine and we wanted to start with our own rule systems and make a game
that was not entirely bound to a preexisting
genre, reacting against it, or in some kind of closed dialogue with
it. Also Melinda was the perfect partner for the Anime Noir project
cause she brought performative art and erotic fetish expertise to the
project. (Anime Noir is an erotic role playing game set in a
Japanese Anime Universe.) We also had this idea of turning it into a commercial
success, (another reason for developing our own game as opposed to a mod),
but, although we had a lot of outside interest in it and a few potential
investors, neither of us has had time to leave our artistic and academic
interests enough to devote ourselves to being business type people. (Not
that this is entirely out of the question still.)
4. Do games modifications or "artists games" only circulate in
artistic circles or do they get adopted in the gaming community in general
Game modifications are often made by people who dont necessarily consider
themselves artists so much as wanna-be game designers. (For example Counter-strike
which is a Half-life mod.) Some mods become very popular for numerous
reasons, game-play(Counter-Strike), interesting thematic environments(Pencil-Whipped),
(Chicken Doom). I think it also depends on how open-minded gamer communities
are. Some people just want to play the same type of games over and over
again with slight variations in environments and characters. Other people
are hungry for new types of games.
"Artist games" as opposed to mods are sometimes quite popular outside
of the art community. Eric Zimmerman's "Sissy Fight" is a good example.
Also, we get 20-50 requests to play our game "Anime Noir" every day...
unfortunetely we havent had time to run the servers for it lately.
5. Do you feel that the concept of computer gaming is changing, that
maybe we are getting closer to a new vision of what is or could be a computer
Yes, I think computer games are becoming an adult creative medium, like
film or literature. As people grow up playing games they dont just stop
at a certain age. Creative people who live and breathe games also want
to make new kinds of games.
6. How do you feel about your double role of artist and curator, are
they complimentary or opposite roles?
Often I feel like being a curator is sort of like being a meta-artist
in that I come up with a specific theme for a show and then try to
find art to fill it in, which may not even exist yet, (which is why on
occasion i have made art under pseudonyms for shows that i have
curated.) I think being a net curator gives you more flexibility to blur
these roles. In some sense I am a collaborator with the other
artists in the show more than their curator. I am a little conflicted
lately though. For instance Velvet-Strike, what was I?
7. What are your 3 favourite commercial games ? 3 favourite artistic
games / modifications? and why?
Three favorite commercial games:
Rez--beautiful fluid movements and representation in a highly
advanced non photo-realistic way (so many games pursue the holy grail
of photorealism and neglect to explore other forms of visual
Alice --Nice psychodelic level design. Plus I love the thumbalina
level where everything is oversize in relation to Alice(why arent
more games influenced by fairy tales?)
Counter-Strike--exciting fps team game play.
There are other games I could put in this list, (and also inbetween
artist and commercial like su-tools new game) but since I have
sometimes only seen demos, not actually played them yet maybe I
Three favorite artistic games/mods:
Retroyou--R/C you couldnt ask for a better artistic use of racing games
Jodi--SOD Classic Jodi mixed with a classic FPS (Wolfenstein)
Brody Condon --Adam Killer-- Beautiful explorations of violent digital