Shaun Hatton is a cultural reciprocator: both the product of and contributor to video game culture. A life-long player, Shaun is a co-founder of Canadian games blog Toronto Thumbs and a current host and producer for Greedy Productions’ Electric Playground. Outside of these endeavours, he’s also a musician with Toronto band Cobra, spinner of records as DJ Finish Him and reluctant computer game coder. Above all, he’s a passionate proponent of the best that pop culture has to offer, as well as an outspoken critic of its downsides.
Hatton was, however, not an easy person for me to interview in a conventional manner. We are both prone to tangents, prone to meandering thoughts that reflect our ardent perspectives, opinions and judgments about games and gaming. As such, despite not knowing him before this meeting, my time with Hatton unfolded more like a conversation with a friend than a conventional interrogation. This is definitely not a criticism, but it does produce more topical twists and turns than my usual interviews.
Here Hatton and I playfully zigzag through a discussion about video games as culture and tools for identity formation, the state of Canadian games media and how to implement Canadian content into game narratives, all the while working in mention of Centipede, Phantasy Star and deer electrocution. Enjoy!
How the politics of gender intersect with cultures of video gaming is something that the Play Till Doomsday project is dedicated to addressing. This is the first in a series of features that aim to elicit perspectives on gender issues that exist within the contemporary mediascape surrounding digital games from girls and women who make, study, play, or report on games.
Of course, this topic has not gone unaddressed in academic spaces, as the wonderful work of Brenda Laurel, Mary Flanagan, Suzanne de Castell and numerous others attests, nor gone ignored in more popular spaces thanks to efforts of writers like Leigh Alexander, sites like WomenGamers.com and organizations like Woman in Games International.
However, it is undeniable that the spaces of gaming culture are not always welcoming and tolerant toward women and girls. This reality is apparent in mainstream game designs that still feature frequently sexualized female stereotypes, the under-representation of women as playable characters, and continued usage of archaic damsel in distress archetypes. Outside these design contentions, the place of women in gaming is also challenged, as highlighted by recent news stories about the limited role of women in game development and the all too recurrent rejection of female voices and judgements within enthusiast games media.