There aren’t many autobiographical games, unless I’ve got the wrong idea entirely and the majority of developers fought in make believe versions of wars and have the ability to recover from multiple bullet wounds by standing behind a fence for ten seconds. This new browser-based piece from Anna Anthropy is a chapter of the author’s life though and it’s an insight into intimate moments and tough decisions. Dys4ia is personal, revealing, angry, sad, loving and seemingly very honest indeed. As for interaction, it’s lots of extremely tiny games in a way, with one story connecting them. Take a look.
Have you already taken that look, like wot I told you? If not, and if you’re put off by the idea that it might not be interactive enough for you or that you won’t care about the subject matter, give it a click anyway, unless you’re at work since you’ll really want sound and some of the graphics might not go down well. You’ll have a good idea of what’s in store about thirty seconds in and if you don’t like it, move on, no harm done. I think the limited interaction works, sometimes adding to the awkwardness, sometimes highlighting the irrationality of attempting to emulate these actions, feelings and thoughts.
As for the content, at times I felt a little uncomfortable because it was like reading the diary of someone I’ve never met, but maybe it’s more a letter than a diary and maybe I’m just an intensely private and British individual who fears the idea of people knowing real things about me. We’re certainly all invited to look at Dys4ia and I’m pleased to have been invited to because these are experiences that I found informative and moving, and I wouldn’t ask for any more out of a conversation, never mind a ten minute Flash game.
The mishapes ill-formed by the limited visuals are effective communicators of extreme discomfort and the moments of beauty that break through the broad strokes worked for me. Special mention has to go to Liz Ryerson’s music, which managed to make me a little bit misty-eyed by the end, in combination with the pleasing sense of something shared.