Year: 2012

Publisher: Newgrounds (former), Itch.io

Creator: Anna Anthropy

Country: US

Genre: Autobiographical, Puzzle

Platform: PC, Mac

Dys4ia logo

Image credit: “Dys4ia”. Via Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dys4ia.png#/media/File:Dys4ia.png

Dys4ia, an autobiographical Flash game and art/experience created by trans woman Anna Anthropy, documents six months in Anthropy’s treatment through a collection of mini-games touching on gender politics, identity, and personal development. With its Warioware-like design drawing on classic elements of video game history, each chapter represents a different facet of Anthropy’s personal narrative, from the uncomfortable navigation of a public women’s bathroom, to dealing with extra sensitive breast tissue. According to Patrick Gann, Dys4ia can give cisgender people a greater understanding of and increased empathy towards the trans community. Indeed, Dys4ia has been described as an “empathy game” by some press outlets, though Anthropy has pushed back against this label and the idea that a cisgender player could “understand” the marginalized experiences of transgender people by simply playing the game. Dys4ia also provides an outlet for transgender and dysphoric people who can identify with the in-game experience. It has been asserted that the game’s power derives from the user’s lack of control over the game’s outcome (there are certain levels that the player is set up to fail) — “It’s taking its turn in the larger dialogue outside of the game, saying, ‘No, now YOU listen to ME for once.’ ”

Dys4ia was nominated for the Excellence in Narrative and Nuovo categories at the Independent Game Festival.

You can buy the game here.

LGBTQ references in this game:

Transgender experience


  1. Alexander, L. (March 12, 2013). Road to the IGF: Anna Anthropy’s Dys4ia. Retrieved from http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/188242/Road_to_the_IGF_Anna_Anthropys_Dys4ia.php
  2. Anna Anthropy. (2012, March 9). Dys4ia (game description). Auntie Pixelante (Website). Retrieved from http://auntiepixelante.com/?p=1515
  3. Cecilia D’Anastasio. (2015, May 15). Why Video Games Can’t Teach You Empathy. Motherboard (Vice). Retrieved from https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/empathy-games-dont-exist
  4. Dys4ia. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dys4ia
  5. Dys4ia. (n.d.). 21st Century Digital Art. Retrieved from http://www.digiart21.org/art/dys4ia
  6. Dys4ia Gameplay. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8x9hjGBY7c
  7. Gann, P. (n.d.). Playing at Empathy: Anna Anthropy’s Dys4ia. Retrieved from http://gamechurch.com/playing-at-empathy-anna-anthropys-dys4ia
  8. Leigh Alexander. (2013, March 12). Road to the IGF: Anna Anthropy’s Dys4ia. Gamasutra. Retrieved from http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/188242/Road_to_the_IGF_Anna_Anthropys_Dys4ia.php
  9. Mallett, W.  (March 4, 2014).  Is dys4ia a Game About the Transgender Experience or Is It a Work of Art? Retrieved from http://flavorwire.com/443187/the-dys4ia-debate-how-queer-creators-are-challenging-conventional-ideas-about-what-makes-a-video-game
  10. Singal, J. (June 15, 2013). From ‘Proteus’ to ‘Dys4ia,’ when is it not a game? The Boston Globe. Retrieved from http://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/movies/2013/06/15/from-proteus-dys-when-video-game-not-game/as6BLQOlUxCQsb4I5vWXzL/story.html
  11. Whitney Mallet. (2014, March 4). Is dys4ia a Game About the Transgender Experience or Is It a Work of Art?. Flavorwire. Retrieved from http://flavorwire.com/443187/the-dys4ia-debate-how-queer-creators-are-challenging-conventional-ideas-about-what-makes-a-video-game