A review of Dys4ia was an article I meant to write up during GDC after I got hands-on time with it but, well, sometimes I can be a bit of a bubblehead and projects get away from me. My apologies to Anna Anthropy and Auntie Pixelante. Then today a commenter on one of our other articles complained about the sudden uptick in trans issues we’re covering. The fact that it was a complaint reinforced to me how important it is that we include the “T” part of LGBT on this site, and understanding how important that is requires understanding what being trans is. That’s where Dys4ia comes in.
I have to confess that I don’t quite grok being trans, and there’s a small part of my own mind that doesn’t understand how it can be. You have a penis, you’re a male, right? Vagina, female; case closed. Except it’s not. At its core, it’s being in a body whose gender doesn’t match self-identity on the deepest level. I think I get it as best as a cisgendered male is able to and I understand the rational side of it, but I suspect there will always be a part of me that doesn’t fully comprehend. Dys4ia helps makes that part of me even smaller.
Dys4ia is not a game in the classic sense; rather, it’s from the new school of micro-games that have become the hallmark of the WarioWare series. Unlike WarioWare, Dys4ia has an overarching story and each of the four levels consist of a handful of 5-10 second autobiographical micro-games that explore Anna’s journey of transitioning from male to female. The games range from the abstract – trying to wedge a weirdly-shaped block through an unaccommodating gap in a wall to symbolize feeling that you don’t “fit” in your own body – to the straightforward such as managing hormone pills and shaving. For someone like me who had little insight into what all comes with being trans, the game was thoroughly enlightening, and the overall experience carries you from frustration and despair to confidence and hope.
The game is available to play on Newgrounds where, contrary to expectations of typical internet behavior, it’s highly-rated and has received a lot of positive feedback. If you want to gain further insight into what it’s like to be trans, the entire thing should take no more than 15 minutes of your time and it’s worth every second.