Pokémon nostalgia came back strong in 2022 with the end of Ash Ketchum’s 25 year long journey to becoming the world’s top trainer, as well as the buggy but surprisingly successful launch of the latest entries in the video game series, Pokémon Scarlet and Pokémon Violet. The Japanese franchise was a big deal for 90s babies, but it was equally prominent for a Gen Zer like myself.
In a desperate attempt to share in some of my nostalgia with a fellow fan, I reached out to one of my favourite music makers online, YouTuber and streamer extraordinaire GlitchxCity—best known for her amazing video game soundtrack remixes. The creator is also notable for her amazing reworking of the beloved Pokémon soundtrack into Lo-Fi tunes that you can, you know—relax/study to.
Let’s put on some headphones, unplug from the chaos of Twitter, and get to know Glitch as she continues to pave the way for a welcoming, music-filled gaming world.
Endless reruns of the original Pokémon cartoon threatened to turn my eyes square when I was younger and Glitch had a similar experience, having fallen under the animated spell thanks to her daycares endless supply of “Pokémon VHS” tapes. I for one would give anything to rewind one of those chunky boxes again.
So for Glitch, her passion for gaming began with Pokémon. Old VHS tapes naturally led to them getting their hands on a Game Boy Colour the following year, “lime-green” she tells me (every gamer remembers their first handheld warmly) complete with a copy of Pokémon Gold. Glitch confessed that at seven she “didn’t really know how to play the game at the time and would always get stuck in Cherrygrove City after getting my first starter which was Chikorita”—another important memory for any gaming obsessives.
“Back then there was a lot of magic with the combination of pixels, great music, and a huge sense of adventure.” It was at the formative age of nine that the act of gaming finally clicked for Glitch, who told me that she played “the heck” out of Pokémon Sapphire. Who can blame her.
The lovable, creature hunting franchise that has since spawned countless animated spin offs and films—as well as a trading card game—has been a big part of Glitch’s life ever since and remains one of the most influential titles in their life. It’s not just Pokémon however, ”another game I really love is the Kingdom Hearts series. Both of those things offer the same thing: a sense of adventure!”
Glitch is best known for their successful career as a music producer, having accumulated over 176 million views on her YouTube channel, as well as over 13 million streams on Spotify. I was surprised to learn that, despite their impressive reputation, her start in the world of music came a bit later.
“When I was 13, I attended a family reunion and met an aunt who had a piano in her home. I sat down and started playing tunes from the games I played by memory, and my aunt straight up said to my mom, ‘you need to get this girl some piano lessons.’”I hated piano lessons as a kid and it seems Glitch was the same, who continued to say “I had one piano lesson, told my mom I didn’t like the teacher and said that I wanted to learn on my own.”
Like any self respecting teen with an unrestricted access to the internet, Glitch told me that they were really invested in YouTube during high school—the main content they consumed were your classic viral videos, but also Pokémon news and the hilarious and surreal YouTube Poops. There was a specific channel that always stuck out to her though, and it was called PokeRemixStudio.
Glitch spoke of her love for the aforementioned channel, a user that she has since surpassed in her rise on the video sharing platform. PokeRemixStudio mentions the gamer in their about section, a nod from a childhood hero that would make anyone well up.
What followed for Glitch was a desire to start her own YouTube channel. “I wanted to start up a YouTube channel that surrounded Pokémon, but didn’t know how to go about making videos.” She carried on by saying “I tried everything from new coverage, lore, let’s plays, and then decided to try out making Pokémon remixes myself. I can say without a doubt, this was the one that stuck with me!”
I went on to ask a little bit about what it was like growing up in the early internet as a woman and person of colour—characteristics that so often attract prejudice and malice online, especially in the early days of the internet and considering the lack of diverse representation we often see in the games themselves. Glitch recounted that “It was definitely a challenge navigating the space as a black woman, and for the longest time, I actually didn’t show my face in my content!”
In a revelation that unfortunately shocks nobody, Glitch went on to say “my audience always assumed I was a white male because that was the norm on the internet.” Thankfully, I was told that despite the hate comments, she actually received a lot of support in the early days thanks to how welcoming the Pokémon music space was.
Gaming is a powerful tool for friendship and community, a medium that has allowed Glitch the opportunity to “make lifelong lasting friendships.” When asked if games have positively impacted her life, the musician turned streamer said that her entry into the world of Esports brought out her “competitive side, and most importantly, introduced me to my partner.”
In a touching testimony that warmed my nerd heart, Glitch finished with “I wouldn’t be who I am today without games.” When asked if she had any words of advice for other gen Z gaming fanatics wanting to make a name for themselves in the industry, the self proclaimed “team Liquid hypewoman” reflected with “don’t be afraid to express yourself and explore your passions, I guarantee you that there is someone or a group of people that share that same level of excitement!” You heard her!
The upcoming release of Avalanche Studios’ big-budget foray into the wizarding world of Harry Potter, Hogwarts Legacy has been marred with controversy during development, primarily in regard to the highly controversial author of the books, JK Rowling.
The writer lost a mammoth number of supporters a few years ago after she began transphobic rhetoric online. The strange reinvention of the once-beloved author into a hateful Twitter warrior has left gamers and fans divided over whether or not they should inadvertently support her by purchasing the new video game, set to release on 10 February 2023.
Spoiler alert: you probably shouldn’t.
In case you’ve been living under a rock (or just don’t use Twitter), Rowling is a trans-exclusionary radical feminist, aka a TERF. The position seeks to eliminate trans women from the feminist conversation, essentially refuting their gender identity. For some reason, the author is outspoken on this issue and seems to spend most of her day crying about it on the aforementioned app.
It goes without saying that this sort of rhetoric only serves to further alienate an already highly oppressed small group of people—a group that is barely protected by our governments and face daily struggles ranging from dysphoria to targeted abuse.
Rowling’s anti-trans stance led many fans to reassess and reanalyse the Harry Potter books. What has since been highlighted is that her writing repeatedly perpetuated negative stereotypes. Moreover, fans have spotted ways in which the author failed to recognise her own ignorance, particularly when it came to diversifying her cast and naming her characters.
In 2022, Jon Stewart reminded us all on his podcast The Problem with Jon Stewart of how problematic the British screenwriter’s portrayal of goblins are in her fantasy novels, with their image as big nosed, greedy bankers sharing many parallels with antisemitic stereotypes—a negative portrayal of Jewish people that has long persisted.
The imagery was reinforced even stronger in the films, the production of which she was heavily involved in. The worst part is how the bank that Harry and Hagrid enter in the first film has the Star of David adorned on the floor, silently reinforcing the parallel. The plot of Hogwarts Legacy actually revolves around a goblin uprising too, making the oppressed minority the villains. Obviously.
There is a clear oversight and unconscious bias in Rowling’s characterisation. It becomes even more apparent when you consider the fact that the only named East Asian character in the book is called Cho Chang, a name that makes zero linguistic sense when considered against actual Chinese naming conventions. Even worse is the name Kingsley Shacklebolt, given to one of Harry Potter’s few named black characters. How Shacklebolt got past everyone is beyond me.
In an interview with IGN on 25 January 2022, the game’s director Alan Tew addressed some of the issues surrounding the upcoming release, stating that they want to make sure that “the audience, who always dreamed of having this game, had the opportunity to feel welcomed back.” The team is painfully aware of the dark cloud that Rowling casts over the content. In spite of this however, Tew made a point of avoiding any mention of the author’s name during the recent interview, and instead only reiterated what he’d said previously when challenged on how he felt about working on the Intellectual Property (IP) after Rowling’s biases made headlines.
In addition to Tew’s unwillingness to get into the ethics of working on a world made by a transphobe, one of the game’s lead designers resigned from his role at the company in March 2022 after it was revealed that he ran a semi alt-right antifeminist YouTube channel. Red flag, anyone?
As you can imagine, Warner Bros’ and Avalanche Studios have tried to make positive changes to the game and entice fans back. Jason Schreier reported for Bloomberg in 2021 that Hogwarts Legacy would allow for trans playable characters, a move that was made possible thanks to persistent work from the team who were reportedly “uncomfortable with Rowling’s position and rattled by the effects she has had on a game they’ve put a lot into.”
Although a step in the right direction for the game, journalist Laura Kate Dale highlighted that it wasn’t really enough. And we can’t blame her, there’s a number of other better games you can support that are enjoyable and have zero ties to transphobes.
The team also previously announced that Rowling would have little creative control over the title—a pledge that ultimately failed to sooth critics as she’d still likely be making a fortune from the use of her IP.
Twitter users have been outspoken in their criticism of the game and calls to boycott. SCREENSHOT wanted to speak with a member of the trans community to better understand their perspective on the reality of people purchasing a game that will actively put money in the pocket of a transphobe.
Aries, a 23-year-old trans woman and avid gamer, shared her thoughts with me on the upcoming release, stating: “Buying the game actively hands money to someone who uses her status to step on trans people and spread transphobic views. People need to grow out of this franchise—it really doesn’t deserve any attention especially considering how unimaginative it is, as well as the prejudices and stereotypes it pushes.”
It’s worth noting that some gamers don’t see any need to boycott the title. In a brief chat with someone who chose to stay anonymous, I was told: “Honestly, I see the issue people have, and power to them for wanting to boycott the title but ultimately it’s a game that a lot of people have worked very hard on.”
They continued: “No matter how sh*t Rowling is, she’s still entitled to earn money from a game that uses a world she created. I don’t agree with her, but I want to play the game and I think we should try to remember that she had very little involvement in the final product. We can enjoy something that the developers worked hard on.”
The problem for so many is that the legacy of the Harry Potter universe is forever scarred by a woman who repeatedly pedals outdated and transphobic logic into the Twittersphere. We haven’t even mentioned the fact that she’s actively supported by heavily problematic groups like the LGB Alliance—an organisation whose primary aim is to erode trans rights and issues from the conversation.
If you grew up loving Harry Potter, as so many gen Zers and millennials did, you’ve likely had to reevaluate your love for the series. Ultimately, your standpoint on the Potterverse is up to you. I just hope that this exploration into the series’ problematic creator and on-going controversy might help you make an informed decision on whether or not you should boycott the game.