Choose your own transgender adventure

Recently I discovered a new low-def Flash game called DYS4IA created by Anna Anthropy a.k.a. Antie Pixelante.  I recommend trying it out.  The game is based on the authors own transgendered experience full of doubt, angst, and eventually some acceptance.  The game play reminds me that the goal is not always winning but also interactive story telling.  The built-in frustration is part of the tale.

DyS4IA screenshot

Jump through too many hoops

DyS4IA screenshot

I feel weird about my body

DyS4IA screenshot

My girlfriend is here with me

In this case, DYS4IA has a fixed narrative path designed to tell one story. In the introduction, she clearly states that “my experience isn’t anyone’s else’s and is not meant to be representative of every trans person”. Yet this made me wonder, how would you make a more universal interactive transgender tale?

You can boil most branching narratives down to a simple “Choose your own Adventure” book. Each book has moments of linearity, with decision points that provide interactive moments.  I am going to geek out for a moment and mention that Samizdat has dissected and graphed various origional CYOA books and found that the number of choices slowly declined over the 80s (how odd!).  Now in the next millennium, you can make and host them online using simple visual tools like with Twine.  Anna Anthropy has an online tutorial here.   Ryan North also did a really fun adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet as a CYOA called “To Be or Not To Be.  You can choose to be Hamlet, Orphelia, or Hamlet Sr (the ghost)! I would, of course, be Orphelia!! Turns out what she really wanted was to invent central heating for all those drafty castles!!! This remains the standard as to how run a successful Kickstarter campaign with exploding heads, fuzzy plush skulls, and bonus books.  The campaign is over but you can still buy the book on Breadpig.

Ok, now that’s all cool but my next idea was to write a “Choose Your Own Adventure” memoir.   While I love my life, it would be fun to explore all the other choices I could have made.  Then I thought why not get even more ambitious and create a social media memoir where different people can each add their own personal trans-journeys as different branches?  Now I don’t know exactly how one would implement all this (perhaps some sort of wiki page) or if it will ever get done.  I am also going to have to put a lot more thought into how to maintain some sense of order and structure.  But if you dear readers, have any ideas please let me know.  This could be fun.

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