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Disabled Characters in Games

3llexmay_3llexmay_ Posts: 4Member Listener
edited January 19 in Guest blogs

It's no shock to people that there aren't many game characters who are disabled, for a lot of people this doesn't seem to be an issue but for those with disabilities it can be disheartening. 

The gaming industry is huge and has had a lot of stick for violence but not many people want to address the fact that games don't really portray many disabled people, that's not to say there aren't some great characters in games who have disabilities. 

My main issue is that people will brush it off and say "it's not real life so it doesn't matter" yes I agree it's not real life but that doesn't mean it should be pushed to one side. I've had a few people tell me they would feel bad playing/killing someone who is disabled so they would rather not play a game with a main character in who is disabled. This is the wrong kind of mind set in my opinion, it wouldn't matter to me what their character looked like, their gender, disabilities etc so long as I enjoyed the game. 


This post isn't all doom and gloom, in fact, I'm going to list a few game characters who have disabilities that some people might not be aware of:

Taimi - Guild Wars 2 

Taimi is a young girl who suffers from a degenerative disease that makes it hard to walk. She is carried through the realm of Tyria by a golem, she's usually sitting in his hands or standing on his shoulders, the thing I like about her is that she still fights, she actually climbs inside her golem and becomes protected he is more than just a companion, he is also her protector.


Lester Crest - Grand Theft Auto 5  

Lester is one of the main characters in Grand Theft Auto, he suffers from a wasting disease (I'm not too sure which one) the disease has left him with bad motor skills which left him wheelchair bound, he does use a cane at times but only for short distances. Lester was bullied badly in high school and over the years grew overweight, he grew to be one of my favourite characters in GTA5.


Sir Hammerlock - Borderlands 2 

Sir Hammerlock is a hunter who is a cool guy, he has quite a few missing limbs that have been replaced by prosthetics, they're mostly bits from other robots that he has attached to himself. He ended up with missing limbs when he has a bad encounter with something called a thresher named old slappy.


Joker - Mass Effect 

Joker (Jeff) is a pilot in Mass Effect, he is one of the best and so confident about it that he can be a bit arrogant, he likes to point out to people that he earned all his accomplishments all on his own and not from the charity of others, he was a severe case of Vrolik syndrome which causes brittleness in the bones, Jeff relies on crutches and leg braces to help him get about but he doesn't let it hold him back.

 

Bentley - Sly Cooper 

Bentley is a turtle who was paralyzed in the mouth of a robot called Clock-La, although he has a damaged spinal cord from being crushed he is able to do just as much as other characters. He fitted rocket boosters and grappling hooks to his wheelchair which is pretty cool!

 

Dr. Huey Emmerich - Metal Gear Solid 

The Dr plays a character who was born with Spinal Bifida, he is obsessed with trying to find a way to walk which lands him in the field of robotics, he had always been very smart from a young age and even worked for NASA.

 

Adam Jensen  - Deus Ex 

Adam is actually the main character in Deus Ex, I played this game for hours (I wasn't very good at it) he came to be an amputee when a man called David Sarif took advantage of Adams unique Genetics he developed when he was younger from experiments performed on him, A number of Adams body parts were replaced with robotic like limbs to make him even stronger.

 

I would have to say that from that list my favourite one would be Taimi, there don't seem to be many girls within games with disabilities it seems very male dominated, I don't want to get into the whole sexist side of gaming but I do want to point out that gaming in general is very much male dominated so it's no surprise to me that there aren't many female characters with disabilities. 

I would love to see more games have main characters with disabilities, I believe it will open a whole new world in the gaming industry just like when Microsoft created wheelchairs for xbox live avatars, the comments regarding that really threw me back because abled people were speaking on behalf of wheelchair users saying they wouldn't want that when in fact there was a request a while back for Microsoft to make it possible for an avatar to use a wheelchair. 

From what I have seen over the years disabled players aren't considered a demographic so to developers it makes sense not to have a disabled character within a game. 

The gaming industry needs a lot of work when it comes to this, they have the chance to change the way others think and show them that even people with disabilities can kick butt! Perhaps the next Assassin in Assassins Creed will have a disability, who knows!


Do you want to see more disabled characters in games? Who is your favourite character? Why do you think there are so few disabled characters? 

Replies

  • MarkmywordsMarkmywords Posts: 70Member Talkative
    I understand your point and respect it. For me though if I want escapism then I'd like to escape this body with it.

    The first dream I had where I was disabled in it was one of the most depressing experiences I've ever had. I couldn't avoid my pain and suffering even when asleep :/

    If others find something uplifting in a disabled avatar though then they should have that option of course.
  • 3llexmay_3llexmay_ Posts: 4Member Listener
    I understand your point and respect it. For me though if I want escapism then I'd like to escape this body with it.

    The first dream I had where I was disabled in it was one of the most depressing experiences I've ever had. I couldn't avoid my pain and suffering even when asleep :/

    If others find something uplifting in a disabled avatar though then they should have that option of course.

    I'm not sure you understood my point of the post, it's not about escapism it's about representation of disabled people in the gaming industry and that we/them should been seen as a demographic rather than people shying away from creating disabled charecters in games.
  • MarkmywordsMarkmywords Posts: 70Member Talkative
    So you want games to be a tool to increase the public presence of disabled people even if no-one wants it ?

    That's a political agenda and I couldn't support such a thing in a game.
  • Sam_ScopeSam_Scope Posts: 1,055Administrator admin
    @Markmywords why do you think no one wants to see disabled characters in games?
  • 3llexmay_3llexmay_ Posts: 4Member Listener
    So you want games to be a tool to increase the public presence of disabled people even if no-one wants it ?

    That's a political agenda and I couldn't support such a thing in a game.
    It's not a political agenda it's a personal preference. 
  • MarkmywordsMarkmywords Posts: 70Member Talkative
    Sam_Scope said:
    @Markmywords why do you think no one wants to see disabled characters in games?
    That's not what I said Sam. No evidence exists one way or another.

    I can only speak for myself and I wouldn't choose a disabled game avatar even if one existed.

    Markets flippantly refer to the Grey Pound and the Pink Pound but can they identify a disabled pound? I don't know.
  • Sam_ScopeSam_Scope Posts: 1,055Administrator admin
    I wonder if there have ever been surveys done? It is really interesting!

    Would you like to see more representation of disabled in other areas, film, TV etc?
  • MarkmywordsMarkmywords Posts: 70Member Talkative
    I for one would like to see an proportionate presence in media but they can't even get it right for women who are 50%.
  • Sam_ScopeSam_Scope Posts: 1,055Administrator admin
    So in your opinion, what is the difference with computer games? I really find this so interesting, I am not into computer games so I thought the feeling would be the same for those too.  Is it the fantasy element?
  • MarkmywordsMarkmywords Posts: 70Member Talkative
    I can only speak for myself but referring back to the OP, my objection is using any media as a tool to achieve any sort of agenda.

    I don't have any time for the use of quotas or token minorities either.

    Games are notoriously male and white with the protagonist and background characters. The odd person in a wheelchair in a crowd would be realistic. If you have 5 characters to chose from when you start then a random selection of 5 people would probably not include a disabled one. It would include at least 2 women though.

    To address your question more specifically, proportionately there are more "wimpy" people in a random selection than disabled ones so would one want one of them added as a player? So yes the fantasy environment does have a bearing.

    I'll pick the evil alien robot with laser beams for eyes please :wink:
  • Sam_ScopeSam_Scope Posts: 1,055Administrator admin
    I suppose I just don't equate disabled with wimpy.  

    I don't think it is a political agenda to want to see a representation of all of society in the media we consume.  While we don't see that, then negative connotations will continue, in my opinion.
  • 3llexmay_3llexmay_ Posts: 4Member Listener
    @Sam_Scope I couldn't agree more with you Sam, nothing wrong with the disabled being represented in games. It's about time they were made a demographic and represented rather than out of sight out of mind!
  • jikkiejikkie Posts: 2Member Listener
    Sam_Scope said:
    @Markmywords why do you think no one wants to see disabled characters in games?
    That's not what I said Sam. No evidence exists one way or another.

    I can only speak for myself and I wouldn't choose a disabled game avatar even if one existed.

    Markets flippantly refer to the Grey Pound and the Pink Pound but can they identify a disabled pound? I don't know.
    Hi @Markmywords - yes, markets can identify a disabled pound (it's frequently called the purple pound) - the government have been talking about it quite recently being worth £212billion per year! From this article in the independent 
  • jikkiejikkie Posts: 2Member Listener
    ...
    Games are notoriously male and white with the protagonist and background characters. The odd person in a wheelchair in a crowd would be realistic. If you have 5 characters to chose from when you start then a random selection of 5 people would probably not include a disabled one. It would include at least 2 women though.

    ...
    Also, just thinking about it quickly, there's over 12million disabled people in the UK, so that's 1 in 5. So that random selection probably would include a disabled one, but it might not be a visible impairment like a wheelchair user..!


  • MarkmywordsMarkmywords Posts: 70Member Talkative
    Also, just thinking about it quickly, there's over 12million disabled people in the UK, so that's 1 in 5. So that random selection probably would include a disabled one, but it might not be a visible impairment like a wheelchair user..!
    The majority group being pensioners which puts it firmly off topic.

    If a coherent market for something exists then it will be met.

  • aspierunneraspierunner Posts: 6Member Listener
    edited January 16
    Personally I dont think disabled characters have to come across weak, vulnerable or uncool.

    Dare Devil; cool character, portrayed as mysterious, handsome, intelligent and yet he is a blind super hero fighting crime...Blind is a disability, yet Dare Devil has been around a long time, is pretty popular and I have no doubt any gamers would take issue with him being disabled... I suppose it depends how you think of disabled, if you see disabled people as incapable then yes it may seem unexciting, but personally I find they are just as able as anyone; non disabled people are often lazy, weak, uncool, boring and never challenge themselves or even live up to their full potential, while some achieve great things. It's the same for disabled people. Look at the paralympics, I am sure there are disabled people that would kick most peoples back side because they have achieved great fighting skills.

    Also, mental health is considered a disability but this does not limit a person necessarily in a physical manner, I am Autistic yet I have ran over 30 marathons in 6 weeks over hilly terrain, or 3 consecutive marathons in 24 hours over Mountain Ranges, after I was previously housebound. I am technically Disabled, vulnerable and weak, but then applied one self and achieved something most non disabled people never will.

    In fact I am aware one of the reasons people love the character trait of blind people in films, games, stories or fantasy etc is because limiting one sense improves another,  Dare Devil is capable of incredible senses because of his disability, allowing him to do things others can't.

    Define disabled but also define abled... there are disabled people out there making most abled people look wimpy but hey... disabled is often a state of mind, a state of mind many non disabled people possess, the greatest strength I have seen in a person is strength of mind...

    just my thoughts
  • Sam_ScopeSam_Scope Posts: 1,055Administrator admin
    " I have ran over 30 marathons in 6 weeks over hilly terrain, or 3 consecutive marathons in 24 hours over Mountain Ranges" @aspierunner that is AMAZING!!! 
  • Chris_ScopeChris_Scope Posts: 686Administrator admin
    Yeah, I second what Sam said - 30 marathons in 6 weeks is pretty incredible!
  • aspierunneraspierunner Posts: 6Member Listener
    edited January 17
    Thank you  @Sam_Scope and  @Chris_Scope... we are all capable of it, it's just whether we decide to take the steps necessary to make it happen, that's all I did, I went from choosing not to do such things to choosing to do them... I simply discovered along the way that we are all capable of more than we realise. Disabled or not, most of us underestimate what we can achieve, once we stop underestimating then it's really a matter of discovering how abled we all are!

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