Archive for April, 2013

Deus Ex: Human Revolutions

April 2, 2013

The title could change, the paper will mutate…but this is one of the games under analysis. The claiming in the title is a reference to Linton’s book on Claiming Disability. DE:HR is about cyborgs and its about disability, impairment and technology –  the thing that leaves an impression is the themes of reluctance, consent, mixed feelings, conformity and social pressure…

This abstract was accepted for DiGRA 2013 but I have withdrawn and am not planning on going to Atlanta (pang…) mainly because the full paper version is still a work in progress.  This is the short version of the abstract. See under ‘comments’ for the long version.

Reclaimed Cyborgs: Representations of ability and disability in Deus Ex: Human Revolutions

In this presentation it will be argued that fantasies about disability are as important to Deus Ex: Human Revolutions as notions of ability and achievement. Themes of employability, autonomy, value, identity and consent run through the game. Ability is depicted as something to be highly valued, constantly measured and perpetually demonstrated. Both ability and disability are portrayed as categories that are rendered unstable by rapidly evolving technologies. These aspects of the game will be discussed in relation to narratives of passing, fantasies of augmentation, and relevant theories from disability studies. While the issue of ability within games has been explored in some detail, especially in games and education literature, the depicting of disability within games (and the potential conceptual relationship between ability and disability as representations) has been overlooked.
Deux Ex: Human Revolutions (2011, dev. Eidos Montreal, publ. Square Enix)


April 2, 2013

Avoidance and/in the Academy The International Conference on Disability, Culture, and Education

11th-12th September 2013.
Centre for Culture and Disability Studies
Liverpool Hope University, United Kingdom

A few slides from the powerpoint

Title: Red Shirts and Black Holes

The topic of this presentation is recent research into the representation of ability and disability within computer games.  The research is informed by cultural theories of disability, as well as disability studies work on literature and screen cultures (such as Mitchell and Snyder, 2000; Smith 2011). Disseminating this theory within digital games studies is one of the stated aims of the project. My research focuses on games that incorporate horror imagery. Such games construct ability in particular ways (as measurable, vital and demonstrable, for instance). They feature damaged, monstrous or drastically augmented bodies and yet these images are rarely analyzed in terms of disability. What I also wish to discuss is the manner in which this avoidance then multiplies or accumulates during different stages of academic practice, including peer review. A related problem is that existing games and disability research generally adopts clinical, medical or educational frameworks. The sheer, accumulated weight of these paradigms is such that they generate the equivalent of a conceptual black hole. Operating in the vicinity of a black hole creates problems of coherence and distortion, and a great deal of energy must be expended just to stay in place. These issues will be discussed, and questions of situated knowledge production and academic practice will be raised.

Methodology, texts, practices

April 2, 2013

An earlier paper on Resident Evil 4 is here, and includes more on method:  Carr, D (2009) ‘Textual Analysis, Digital Games, Zombies’.  Presented at DiGRA 2009, UK. Copy online at the DiGRA digital library, link.

This project uses textual analysis – which is obviously different from looking at disability as constructed within players practices and player culture.  For a previous example of research focusing on use and practices  (based in a virtual world, not a game) please see :

Carr, D (2010)  ‘Constructing Disability in Online Worlds; Conceptualising Disability in Online Research’ in the London Review of Education:  March 2010.

There is a draft version online here, and here’s an extract, taken from the introduction.

Quote – Educators are increasingly interested in the teaching and learning potentials of virtual worlds such as Second Life (Kirriemuir, 2008). However, participation in virtual worlds may not be straightforward for disabled people. For example, during 2007 an integrated voice feature was introduced into Second Life by its developers, Linden Labs. Prior to the introduction of this voice feature most users (or ‘residents’) communicated by typed text-chat. With the arrival of the voice feature, some deaf residents found themselves suddenly excluded from relationships, groups and events. Of course, it was not the voice feature as tool that disabled these users, so much as the various practices and conventions that emerged in its wake.

To explore these matters interviews were conducted with deaf Second Life residents. The impact of the voice feature was investigated, and the construction of deafness as a disability in Second Life was examined. A major theme that emerged during analysis of the data was that of ‘loss’, which encompassed references to learning, adjustment and identity. The interviewees offered clarifications and revisions when discussing these issues. They were forthright and articulate about the impact of voice, yet wary of and resistant to being positioned as bereft or passive. These matters are explored using a Cultural Studies framework, while reference is made to literature from Disability Studies, Deaf Studies, and Second Life and education research. These different literatures offer insights relevant to the topic, yet these approaches are not especially compatible, particularly in terms of the conceptualizing of disability itself. This paper begins with a consideration of these differences.