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.

  1. On the other hand, given some of the comments made over on the MetaFilter thread, maybe I’ve just made the case for newsgames, at least their potential for delivering information about something foreign to their audiences.

  2. I think games are a powerful way for people to experiences things they otherwise can’t. I believe the interaction helps invest the person in the story presented. It increases the likelihood of evoking the feeling that the experience is happening to the player rather than viewing from afar.

    Transgender is a concept that is pretty alien to many people. Working with it alone appears to me to be a very stressful ordeal, nevermind also having to deal with people who have less than tolerant ideas about it. Hopefully things like this game will help people relate and empathize with others they may not otherwise be able to.

  3. Her other games are also worth checking out. My favorite is the absolutely brilliant almost-metroid-like Redder.

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