Interview with Sasha from "Between the Scanlines!" (6/04/2024)

Sasha is the writer and lead producer of Between The Scanlines, a retro gaming fanzine, and is a video game historian. We sat down with Sasha to ask her a bit about her endeavors in life and the 'zine scene.

Welcome to the site, Sasha! It’s a pleasure to have you. Would you like to introduce yourself to our readers?

Hi James! Thank you for having me! I’m an elder millennial trans girl from the UK with a background in local newspaper journalism and social media, and a love of coffee and EDM. I’m partnered with a lovely lady, Kit, and we have four cats: Azzy, Loki, Rango, and Rox.

Thanks! Cats are so cute. Now, I think it would be fair to say that you have a bit of an affinity for magazines! Where does that come from for you? Any specific memories of particular gaming magazines, or mags in general?

Aha, yes! I certainly do. Magazines were something I’ve enjoyed pretty much my whole life, mainly hobby and science and technology mags. I can remember one childhood edutainment mag, Quest, one of those that was published monthly, that was absolutely wonderful in what it did. I loved dinosaurs and space as a kid (as many kids do!) and there was always at least one article in each issue. Video games wise, the first magazine I read was Zzap64, a mag legendary in the UK for a certain generation.

What was the creative push or spark that led you to releasing your own ‘zine on What kind of challenges do you face when creating a digital zine?

The creative spark that led to SCANLINES was reading through fanzines of the past, something I’d not done all that much of in the past. It was one particular PC Engine fanzine from the early 90s that inspired me, how passionate and ‘home grown’ it was in design. There was also a community aspect that appealed to me. A day later, I’d put together ‘Issue Zero’ as a testbed and two weeks after that, the first issue of SCANLINES rolled out last October. One challenge has been finding an online home for our zine; there aren’t all that many options out there for hosting something like it and has been the best fit so far, though we’re currently exploring other options. Another has been trying to work past reluctances to buy a digital product vs a physical magazine. We’d love to go physical too, but we’re not in the right place now, not without a funding drive to do so.

You are based in the UK, and I, the US. Are there any points of differentiation between the retro game scenes across the Atlantic?

I’d say one of the biggest differences is that because of the relative absence of ‘bedroom coders’ and a demoscene in the US video game market during the 1980s and early 1990s, home computers outside of the Apple II and DOS PCs (and then that’s a fairly niche scene too until Windows 9X PCs!) are not part of the retro gaming cultural awareness nearly as much as they are in the UK and Europe.

Very true! The demo scene is largely a European phenomenon. Switching gears now, anime certainly plays a part in the Sasha experience. What were some of your early favorites, and how does anime factor into your general retro experience?

Aha, it certainly does! Technically, I was watching anime from a young age with the Japanese co-pros such as the Real Ghostbusters, Ulysses 31, The Mysterious Cities of Gold.The series Sasha names here all feature Japanese animation, or otherwise include Japanese studios somewhere closely in production. But early faves in what we’d actually consider anime were Robotech, The Vision of Escaflowne, and Gundam 0079. Oh, and Neon Genesis Evangelion. By the time Eva started airing in Japan, I’d joined an anime club and we’d get tapes sent to us by the friend-of-a-friend in Japan. An exciting time as anime and manga were mysterious things, and we felt like we were privy to some secret thing that few knew or cared about. I’m very fond of 2000s anime in particular, so in the past year, I’ve picked up a lot of old ADV DVD boxsetsADV was a major player in the English speaking anime industry until closing their doors in 2009. See their releases here. and singles collections on the cheap, building what feels like the dream anime collection that I could never afford when they were £20 for four episodes in the early 2000s. And there is something special about the case artwork, all the physical goodies and the cool menus.

Just a curiosity, do you play any modern video games? (Let’s say modern is PS4 and later.) What’cha been up to?

Oh, yes, all the time. There are so many cool modern games to enjoy too, and just over the past year, Kit and I have played through Baldur’s Gate 3, Cyberpunk 2077, Elden Ring, and we’ve now got Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice on the go. We’re also very excited for Dawntrail, the expansion for Final Fantasy XIV due out at the end of June. It’s our favourite MMORPG.

If you could bring back anything from the past into the modern day, what would it be? The sky is the limit in this fantasy question!

Aha, dinosaurs! I still have a fascination with dinosaurs (Jurassic Park is still one of my favourite movies!) and I’d love to bring back some of the big (and not-so-big) beasties. On the tech side, I’d love to bring back some of those early attempts at computers, combustion engines and things like that from the 18th and 19th century (and older!) and just tinker with them and see how close they came to getting them working and changing history.

Can you share any sneaky details of what’s coming next for Between the Scanlines, or Sasha content in general?

Sure! Well, we are considering a funding drive for a physical edition of the ‘zine, a ‘best of’ collection of articles, and I’ve got something in the works for blogging site retrospectives and a new, fun way of presenting retrospective pieces and photos of games that has an archaeological theme to it!

Well, that sounds like a lot of fun! Anything that you’d like to say to Emotion Engine readership?

Ah, I don’t think so! Just to express my appreciation for them reading me chit-chat about myself (and to you for conducting this lovely interview!) and hope they enjoy Between the Scanlines if they decide to check it out!

Thank you very much for lending us some time, Sasha! You can find Sasha's Patreon here, and her magazine is currently distributed here, at I met Sasha on Bluesky, where she regularly posts nostalgic content and other fun things for the retro gaming community.

- James