[Trigger Warning: Transphobia]
Anna Anthropy, also known as Auntie Pixelante, is an occasional guest writer for us and the author of the new book Rise of the Videogame Zinesters. It would be an absolute shame not to talk about her newest game, dys4ia, an example of how anyone can make smaller game experiences (like zines) that tell personal stories. In her own words:
dys4ia is the story of the last six months of my life: when i made the decision to start hormone replacement therapy and began taking estrogen. i wanted to catalog all the frustrations of the experience and maybe create an “it gets better” for other trans women. when i started working on the game, though, i didn’t know whether it did get better. i was in the middle of the shit detailed in level 3 of the game, and at the time i had no idea what the ending would be; it was hard to envision a happy ending.
I played through the game and found it remarkably clever how game mechanics can be used to portray emotions. I found myself being frustrated in solidarity with Anna while trying to navigate my way through her experiences as a trans woman seeking hormone therapy in a cis-centric world. dys4ia explores issues such as clothes not fitting, insurance not covering the necessary medications, shaving, and struggling through hearing people use the incorrect pronouns. All of the mini-games are quick to grasp, using only the arrow keys as controls, which lends to a quick game session that leaves an impression that lasts longer than the actual gameplay.
I found myself cheering for Anna Anthropy in the end, happy that things have gotten better for her. While she does state that her experiences are not meant to speak for all trans women, I can’t help but be hopeful that it will ‘get better’ for all women like her.
Try out dsy4ia, and leave your thoughts in the comments.