Dys4ia is a new flash game by Anna Anthropy/Auntie Pixelante about her experience as a trans woman over the last six months. It is brief, touching, high-polish, and low-res. And it possibly represents a new form of diaristic game design.
Forgive me while I go on a bit:
The news game movement, led most publicly by Ian Bogost (whose GAME-O-MATIC might be worth posting about once it’s more broadly available) is — at least in the abstract — prone to questions along the lines of ‘Why make this a game? Wouldn’t an article be able to get this information across more efficiently and in greater depth?”
I think this sort of diaristic game — or at least this particular game, being, perhaps, the genre’s only example — sidesteps the issue because its constant subtext is “Gaming made me (and I made this).” The way it jumps rapidly through game types serves as a lesson in how these simple game mechanics are always implicitly telling some sort of story, and here the story they already tell is used in service of a tiny bit of explicit narrative. That the story they’re made to tell here is so personal creates a curious effect. “You’ve played these games before, but I guess you haven’t heard their story,” it tells us. “Their story is my story.”
In its ideal reception, I think this bit of confusion might help communicate what to most would feel like a foreign experience as though it were something familiar. Because you’ve played this already.