1st Edition

Gaming Disability Disability Perspectives on Contemporary Video Games

Edited By Katie Ellis, Tama Leaver, Mike Kent Copyright 2023
    274 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    274 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book explores the opportunities and challenges people with disabilities experience in the context of digital games from the perspective of three related areas: representation, access and inclusion, and community.

    Drawing on key concerns in disability media studies, the book brings together scholars from disability studies and game studies, alongside game developers, educators, and disability rights activists, to reflect upon the increasing visibility of disabled characters in digital games. Chapters explore the contemporary gaming environment as it relates to disability on platforms such as Twitch, Minecraft, and Tingyou, while also addressing future possibilities and pitfalls for people with disabilities within gaming given the rise of virtual reality applications, and augmented games such as Pokémon Go. The book asks how game developers can attempt to represent diverse abilities, taking games such as BlindSide and Overwatch as examples.

    A significant collection for scholars and students interested in the critical analysis of digital games, this volume will be of interest across several disciplines including game studies, game design and development, internet, visual, cultural, communication and media studies, as well as disability studies.

    List of Contributors

    1. Introduction: Gaming (and) Disability
    Katie Ellis, Tama Leaver, and Mike Kent

    Part I: Representation

    2. A History of Disability in Video Game Character Design
    Jennifer Dalsen

    3. Dis/abling Androids: Gaming, Posthumanism, and Critical Disability Studies
    Mark A. Castrodale

    4. Outliers as Heroes: Disability, Representation, and Inclusion in Blizzard’s Overwatch
    Kai-Ti Kao and Denise Woods

    5.  The Dis/ability of the Avatar: Vulnerability Versus the Autonomous Subject
    Simon Ledder

    6. Crashing Through Capitalism: Happy Wheels, Debilitation, and Disability Representation
    Leanne McRae

    7. A Missile to the Face: Scarred Characters in Mass Effect 2
    Gabriele Aroni

    8. Representations of Ability in Digital Games
    Diane Carr

    Part II: Digital Access and Design

    9. A Spectrum of Real: Augmented Reality and Social Scaffolding
    Craig Smith and Heath Wild

    10. Towards Inclusive Game Design
    Patricia da Silva Leite and Leonelo Dell Anhol Almeida

    11. The Ultimate Medium for People with Disabilities? Re-Centring the Human in Virtual Reality Visions of Play, Care, and Empathy
    Marisa Brandt, Mitchell Reddan, and Morgan Kiryakoza

    12. The Sociological Accessibility of Gaming
    Michael James Heron

    13. A Life-Course Analysis of Third-Age Digital Game Players in China
    Chen Guo and Katie Ellis

    14. Gaming with Blindness in Audio Virtual Reality: Making BlindSide
    Mike Kent, Michael T. Astolfi and Aaron Rasmussen

    Part III: Inclusive Communities

    15. A (Dis-)abling Gaming Model for Playful Inclusion: Playing (Digital) Games with Persons with and without Learning Difficulties and Dis/abilities
    Gertraud Kremsner, Alexander Schmoelz, Michelle Proyer

    16. Online Games Players in Darkness: A Study of the Blind Gaming Community Tingyou
    Huan Wu

    17. Pokémon Go and Urban Accessibility
    Kathryn Locke and Tama Leaver

    18. Crip Twitchology: You’re Already One of Us
    Katie Ellis and Lachlan Howells

    19. Minecraft as an Online Playground: Reframing Play and Games in a Minecraft Community for Autistic Youth
    Kathryn E. Ringland


    Katie Ellis is a Professor in Internet Studies and Director of the Centre for Culture and Technology at Curtin University, Australia. Her research is located at the intersection of media access and representation and engages with government, industry, and community to ensure actual benefits for real people with disability.

    Tama Leaver is a Professor of Internet Studies at Curtin University. He is President of the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR), a regular media commentator, and a Chief Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Digital Child.

    Mike Kent is Discipline Lead for the Curtin iSchool and Professor at the Centre for Culture and Technology at Curtin University. Mike’s research and writing focus on the overlapping areas of disability, social media, and digital communications.