Dys4ia is an autobiographical non-game created by Anna Anthropy aka Auntie Pixelante. In this game, the player controls a character undergoing hormone replacement therapy and transitioning from sex assigned at birth. "The game consists of several chapters, and each of them employs low-level systems of interactions (controls, collisions, movements in space, micro-challenges and so on) to express a range of visceral states like frustration, stress, humiliation or relief."
According to Patrick Gann, Dys4ia can help non-transgender people empathize with those who feel uncomfortable with the sex assigned to them at birth. Yang argues that the power of this game lies in the player’s very lack of real influence over the eventual outcome: “It’s taking its turn in the larger dialogue outside of the game, saying, ‘No, now YOU listen to ME for once.’ ”
Although Lim does not explicitly tell a story of LGBTQ experiences, this is one of the possible interpretations of this game. Lim is about the external violence that one experiences standing out, and an internal self-violence of blending in. The game is very simple. "Players navigate a maze as a multi-colored square, encountering brown and dark blue blocks throughout the series of rooms. The blocks react violently to the player’s presence in the space, shaking erratically and seeking out the player to collide with him/her. As they push the player’s block around, there is often the possibility of being shunted outside of the maze completely, becoming isolated from the experience of the game and being forced to navigate the maze from the outside."
The game also offers an option to blend in, which, as the player soon discovers, comes with a price. There is no graphic violence, but sound and visual effects that the player encounters will make her physically uncomfortable. The game allows the player to get a taste of intense discomfort that people marginalized because of their difference feel. Lim and Dys4ria were praised by a famous media scholar Henry Jenkins for their effectiveness and originality.
Finally, there is To Kill a Black Swan, "a short murder mystery visual novel about a detective, a yoga course attendant, a grieving wife, an obsessed cleaner, a 'bro', and a bitchy friend." But I won’t tell you more about it – it is a mystery after all!
These three games are, of course, not a magic bullet, and I am not claiming that by playing them one can suddenly understand LGBTQ experiences, or cured from homo/transphobia. You should not simply tell a person to play them and hope that the games will be self-explanatory. However, they can certainly be a nice way to start (or continue) this very important conversation.
This piece was previously posted by www.cultnoise.com