I'm coming out - of retirement - to write this review of a groundbreaking autobiographical game by someone whose criticism of not my work but me as a person may explain why I don't post here anymore. Of course the real reason is that the Drupal gives me a hassle uploading the images every time, if I could grab a link and rip some pics off Google Images, throw together some text in 10 minutes, I'd probably post once a week or something.
Simone de Beauvoir wrote in The Second Sex that "one is not born, but becomes a woman". For feminists this is a statement about gender as a social-construct, but for Anna Anthropy it is literally true. Anna has been undergoing hormone therapy since 2011 and has now made a game about the experience. I'm pleased to say it was a delight, concise in its Wario Ware meets Cathy Acker rapid-fire storytelling, where text narration of key-press metaphors guide you through like a Pinterest flip-book.
We used to talk about metaphors as ways of taking abstract systems, like nested timers on a rail grid, and tying them to something people care about, like running a diner full of happy customers. Now we can start talking about gameplay metaphors in a more multi-dimensional way, as keystones to highly individuated human experience. I read the preview of Anna's book, the gist is get is that she's advocating a whole lot more of this. The systems you'll encounter in Dys4ia aren't terribly deep, they're clever, and they're well-paced, and how that pacing fits the autobiography is what makes them sing. I'd like to see deeper systems applied in this individualistic metaphor manner, but I'd like a lot of things. My life's goal is to facilitate that for all humanity, incidentally.
It'll literally take you 10 minutes and you might laugh like I did or gain a new perspective on gender, this individual you may have interacted with, or game design.
After Anna called me names and told me to "go home" (I was home at the time) in 2009, I thought about saying nasty things about her gender, but I didn't, earning an Achievement similar to the one lampooned at the end of Dys4ia, but with different criteria. I'm about free expression and happened to be ball tripping on testosterone, if someone wants to ball-trip on estrogen, cool. I never liked Ecstasy but I love LSD, to each her own. The freedom to edit one's own experience underpins the value in being human. And with designs like this pointing out what's possible, these edits can amount to a great transhumanism, whatever that may mean to you.