dys4ia: A game about hormone replacement therapy

The level selection screen for dys4ia. Level 1: Gender Bullshit. Level 2: Medical Bullshit. Level 3: Hormonal Bullshit. Level 4: It Gets Better?


[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.

About Tami Baribeau

Lead Editor and co-founder of The Border House, feminist, gamer, lover of social media, technology, and virtual worlds. Pansexual, equestrian, dog lover, social game studio director and producer. Email me here and follow me on Twitter!
This entry was posted in Indie Games and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to dys4ia: A game about hormone replacement therapy

  1. Jargo says:

    I like to see more autobiographic games like this.
    It is great to tell such a intense and personal story with so simplistic mechanics.

  2. dys4ia is really interesting, and it’s a clever use of a game to challenge attitudes within the community- especially since it was published on Newgrounds.

    Any chance of an ebook version of Rise of the Videogame Zinesters? I don’t live in the USA!

  3. Kimiko says:

    What a cool way to tell a story, and convey the feelings that go with it to the player :)

  4. Maverynthia says:

    Also, Trigger warning for this game. It contains abelist and misogynistic language (in the same sentence even).

    Was not expecting that in this game so it ruined my experience.

  5. Jonathan says:

    That was fantastic. The interaction actually added to the whole experience, making it unique, engaging and memorable. So few games in this mould manage to nail that.

    Incidentally, my first thought on reading this was an almost shameful “Oh my god, I didn’t realise Auntie Pixelante was trans!” like I’d been doing her some disservice by not knowing. Then I realised that it was actually a good thing and smiled.

  6. Trodamus says:

    Nice on the trigger warnings but this is also fairly NSFW (depending on how your workplace views pixelated breasts and nipples popping up on screen).

    That aside, I do enjoy casual trans “fiction” (or whatever) and this is no exception. The way we hurt people and the ways we are hurt …

  7. JTSpender says:

    Yeah, this totally made me cry.

  8. Ultraviolet says:

    this surprised me. I had been on Newgrounds years ago and felt like it’s a total bro place. I remember being afraid to come out as queer (i was working through my sexuality then, it was kinda important) in clear text there. i’m glad she got so many supportive people in comments – makes me wonder if i had been prejudging people purely on the basis of being mostly straight guys in their early 20s.

Comments are closed.