Characters with Disabilities in CoG and HG Titles


#1

Are there any CoGs that handle characters with disabilities more…Like they’re people? Or is that an area that’s lacking in the brand? I was actually really interested with Fumble, as I’ve never really read any stories where any of the characters weren’t (I don’t know what the correct term is) able bodied, but his character went nowhere and sadly I forgot about him until you brought him up. Then Weaver got me all interested again, because like I said, they were a type of character I don’t read about often. I liked them a lot in RS (probably has to do with how I played my MC), but apparently OS will just make me sad about Weaver.


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#2

There is a WIP called A freak among the neon lights, or close to that. The MC is mute, and I don’t recall it getting criticism for its portrayal of that. I think it’s a really good story so far.


#3

Beyond the aforementioned “Freak”, I don’t think that there has been anything else in the CoG/HG stories that touch it. Unless you’re wanting to count Emma’s possible schizophrenia from ZE, then that is a different story.

I can speak for myself and say that I’m very hesitant to write about anything that I don’t possess some knowledge of because I want to represent that character “correctly.” To do otherwise is an injustice to the character and a probable offense to those who have a particular disability, orientation, etc.

Even for something that I encounter daily, my son’s Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and my grad research into it, I’m still not comfortable with writing original work academically, much less fictionally. I’ve found that scientifically, even with the research that I’ve done, it’ll probably take me months, if not some years in psych and their methodologies to fully appreciate the scientifical aspects of ASD. Also, I KNOW my son sees the world around him differently than I do. However, he is too young and developmentally delayed to let me know what he sees and I wouldn’t start writing about something from “his” PoV until he can speak to me about it, or if I develop a relationship with someone else who is similar to him.

Finally, to top ASD off, there are so many variations of it that there isn’t a cookie-cutter way to write about someone with that diagnosis. Someone with low functioning ASD will have a completely different story than someone with Asperger’s, for instance.

So yeah, I appreciate and expect anyone who tackles this or any similar topic to do some research before they begin their writing, Even then, if you are not confident that your character will be amazing, I wouldn’t put it in the story at all. Likewise, if you don’t care enough to do research, then don’t bother trying to put the character into your story, it would do more harm than good.


#4

Sidenote here:
People (with PTSD) have (jokingly) called Fallen Hero ‘superhero ptsd simulator’ and seem rather pleased with how FH handled things.


#5

I’d be curious of where these reviews are. However, since you mentioned it, I can definitely see how they arrived at this conclusion.


#6

Mostly this comes from when we talked about it on the discord server, should have mentioned that.


#7

The work I am involved with Zombie Exodus: Safe Haven has several NPC characters that have various disabilities - including depression. One of the RO, Tommy, is in the midst of a depression. Another, Rosie, has bipolar disorder - imagine trying to find drugs for that during an apocalypse …

As a matter of fact, every character and this includes the MC is in need of some sort of therapy or counseling.

With regards to the MC, you have the option of choosing various “challenges” that are disabilities - from sleep disorder to kleptomania. One of the most popular challenges is that of having a delusional friend named: Ray - and because of an unintentional bug in the latest release Ray had affected a minor scene (assigning chores) that sparked a huge discussion…

In the future, we plan on doing even more (we meaning the co-authors). It is one of the many reasons we are all working on this - by both introducing new characters with disabilities and including more involvement with those already introduced (ie a new NPC character will have a physical disability and the MC will be able to help or hurt Tommy as he goes through this depression).

From an author’s standpoint - testing and feedback is very important when trying to write about characters that you are not explicitly and intimately familiar with. One of the reasons my contest entry has multiple Non-binary characters in it is because of the awesome testers I had and the detailed, in-depth feedback they gave me.

I’m going to take these specific posts out of this thread and making a new thread for this topic.


#9

Choice of Rebels has a blind character but I’m sure you already knew this. There is a WIP called Whispers of the Stars that gives you the option to make your MC deaf but it’s currently on hiatus. That is all I can think of at the moment but I’m sure there are more WIPs that has these kind of situations you’re looking for.


#10

A lot of CoGs and HGs are escapist power fantasies. and I feel that this is predicated on the relatively simplistic nature of multiple choice games. Whilst we can make a case for the necessity of realism in literature, these are games; they’re almost, by definition, designed to be fun and escapist.

In addition, one could perhaps say that by not mentioning disability at all, especially in superhero games or whatever, that is in itself treating the characters like people and not categorising them based on disability. Of course, this can go the other way: by not explicitly mentioning disabled characters, it becomes marginalistic and reinforces the concept of disability as an impediment.

As someone who’s visually impaired and chronically injured, physical disability is something I’d like to see more of, especially with MC customisation. But at the same time, when it comes to MCs, disability is a deeply personal experience, and people respond differently. Whatever flavour text the author uses needs to be in accordance with the MC’s personality; otherwise, it alienates some players or gives them an experience that isn’t what they expected or wanted.

So yes, I’d agree that perhaps disability as a whole is a bit under-addressed in CoGs/HGs, but I think it’s understandable.


#11

I was very much inspired by cuts to disability support stuff (in both the US and Australia, where I live) while designing the concept of my next game, which will be an official “Choice of” game. It’s a post-climate story with coming of age themes and a shark farm (I already have four Hosted Games, two of them collaborative with other people from the forums) called “The Floating City”.

I’m fascinated (as a linguist) with sign languages, and (as a steampunk) with prosthetic limbs (especially as some are superior for certain purposes than physical limbs - the Aussie comedian Adam Hills is a big favourite of mine, and is missing half of one leg below the knee. UK folks will know him from “The Last Leg” which is a fantastic comedy/news show that often touches on disabilities).

Because the floating city is relatively isolated and started with a relatively small population, a recessive gene means that most of the population cannot hear or speak. Since moving between the ‘spheres’ of the city tends to take a little while (like standing in front of a glass door waiting for it to open) everyone speaks a little bit of at least two sign languages (one visual, and one based on tapping on glass or on someone’s head or arm), and a large minority are fluent. The main character’s best friend, Kassandra, cannot speak or hear.

The main character was born without knees, calves, or feet. She has several sets of prosthetics (far superior to modern ones, because having no legs is a pain…duh…) for different purposes… and one of them is a tail.

I have some mobility issues myself (mostly pain- and recovery-related rather than “can’t do steps”) and sometimes use a wheelchair for that reason (or have other more subtle issues, like not being able to stand around and chat with other parents picking up their kids, so I sit in the car and miss out on social contact).

I also have anxiety, depression, and just a sprinklin’ of brain damage. I wrote a short (free) game about depression (it’s as close to non-fiction as a game can get; I even literally wrote it on my birthday) but I don’t think I’ll do that again (FYI it is NOT a happy game) because that brain-space is dangerous for me. I’m aware that there is a coding error (the romantic partner is supposed to allow two genders but I defaulted to male several times) and I haven’t been able to bring myself to go back and fix it.

https://dashingdon.com/play/Felicity/counting-spoons/mygame/index.php?cb=59054

I can’t bear to read or write books with depressed viewpoint characters, because I “catch” their way of seeing the world and my own issues get worse.

There is one notable exception: The Arcadia trilogy by Mishell Baker (Borderline, Phantom Pains, and Imposter Syndrome). The main character attempted suicide before the story and has significant physical damage (both her legs were amputated; one below and one above the knee). She suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder and often makes terrible choices… but she’s got so much self-awareness and therapy on her side that she often recognises what her brain is doing to her and has strategies to work around it.

One way I “research” for the characters in my own upcoming CoG game is by following disability advocates on twitter, facebook, and blogs. Choice of Games will also be hiring their own sensitivity readers, and if my story doesn’t pass muster representation-wise it won’t be published.


#12

I think there was a wip named drop of the night or something.There’s mute teenager who’s also a RO for teenage MC only.Don’t know if it’s still alive though


#13

That WIP is on hiatus actually. It’ll be back eventually once the author deals with real life.


#14

Since I didn’t see many actually released games mentioned here: Do phobias count as disabilities? If those count then I think Heart of the House handles those very well and in Zombie Exodus: Safe Haven you can choose challenges which would count as minor disabilities I think. These are the ones I can think of atm.
Also I must say regarding the OPs post that HR or THP is definitely not where people should look for disabilities handled well.


#15

Started playing it yesterday after hearing only good things. Since we’re talking about disabilities here: To be honest, I was a little surprised to see the word cripple appear right at the beginning. Maybe it was a deliberate choice to make the narrative appear more gritty or I’m just being oversensitive due to being called that word too many times for my liking, but I could have done without it.


#16

Well if we want to take a super serious dictionary take to it: “yes, a phobia can be classified as a disability in that it can effect a persons psychological being and ability to perform certain tasks” as per google search.

Honestly, I’m inclined to agree. If a phobia is troubling enough, I could see it fitting under the term of disability. If you’re unable to do something due to say… a fear of heights, then I think it makes sense for it to be considered a disability.


#17

Well, address it in the games thread maybe?


#18

In my work The Aegis Project one of the backgrounds you can choose is that the MC is an amputee.


#19

This is something we have been working to implement in the sequel to So, You’re Possessed! as well. It was very important to me to diversify our ever growing character list in the series, especially as many people in my family deal with both physical and mental health issues in their daily lives and I want more of that representation for them and others.


#20

Metahuman inc has a character mr.winston he’s blind but he handled the job well and even refuses to have it cured


#21

I have been toying a lot with the idea of writing a game where the MC has Aspergers (maybe diagnosed, maybe without knowing it).

It would be based mostly on my own way of experiencing the world, but also using what I know from friends, people who work with autistic people, and all the many blogs and books available on the subject.

I have also thought about including disabilities and mental illnesses in character creation for other games, but such things will be limited by what I feel I can portray convincingly and respectfully.