Friday, April 27, 2012

Anna Anthropy: Dys•4•ia

A very sincere little game we have here from Anna Anthropy (a.k.a. Auntie Pixelante). It's like an interactive storybook! What's the story, you ask? Well, it's about hormone therapy. It's an autobiographical interactive video-story about hormone therapy. And it's super cute and colourful and engaging.

Although there's a spoiler right at the very beginning (something along the lines of "this is an autobiographical story about my experience with hormone replacement therapy), you don't really know what you're in for. It's no puzzle-solving, code-breaking, shoot-em-up thriller—it's really very intuitive and easy to play. It's the ideas that are challenging.

Maybe play the game through once before reading the next stuff. (It doesn't take very long, I swear!):

Anna Anthropy is a transgendered activist game designer, and this is a game about the 6 months she spent on estrogen-replacement therapy. She started designing the game mid-therapy, and didn't know what direction her game—or her life—was going to take. Luckily, it's a happy ending!

But the first time I played the game, I honestly didn't have a clue who Anna Anthropy was. I didn't know she was transgendered. It made me sad to think people feel the need to go through hormone-replacement therapy in order to look like one of the two polar sexes society has deemed acceptable.

Learning that Auntie Pixelantie is trans changed my reaction to the game, but it still had my brain churning. Yes, it does make sense that if you are a woman you would want to look like a woman. But that just got me thinking: why do we all (think we) know what it means to "look like a woman?" I mean, what does that mean? That you don't have hair on your face? That you have big tits and a small waist? That you have narrow shoulders and wide hips? That your hair and your fingernails are long? I want to be careful here: I'm not saying that it's wrong to have any of these traits. I'm just saying that it's not concretely right! There are TONS of women who don't look like any of that, and that's not wrong either.

So even though it was a happy ending for Auntie P., it was difficult going to get there. The game shows that it's pretty darned taboo to be obviously in between the gender poles (and let's face it, to be on one of those poles is like hitting a bull’s-eye). And that made me rather sad and troubled. I mean, it's one thing to want to look a certain way for personal reasons, and another thing to feel socially stigmatized until you look that certain way.

Cool game. The graphics are really cute. The little people are funny are lovely and wonky. The sounds are great! Like womp and zoop and tick and waaaa. And it makes you think! Or it makes me think. And think and think and think and think and think and think and...

I could..
A. Have played that game about jumping elephants, but instead I learned something.
B. Take it.
C. Leave it.

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