Project final report

Here is a project final report. Tricky. The work is ongoing so it is not a particularly ‘final’ final report.

The report is attached to this post as a comment.


One Response to “Project final report”

  1. playhouse Says:

    Project final report April 2014

    Horror and science fiction games incorporate representations of disability and ability, and raise questions about technology, status, pervasive assessment and the body.

    It was found that undertaking this work involved managing problems of expectation (of what disability is, and of what ‘research about games and disability’ is). It involves managing related expectations about the purpose of research ‘on disability’, and the place of disability theory in media studies and games studies (Carr, 2013a). In this way, the project findings confirm disability studies work on the reification of clinical models of disability in research contexts – see Goggin and Newell’s Digital Disability (2003), as well as Linton’s work on disability across the curriculum (1988) and Snyder, Brueggemann and Garland-Thomson’s work on disability and the humanities (2002).

    The horror games analysed featured bodies that are marked as monstrous, deviant, augmented, able and professional. They depict ability as crucial to survival, and structure ability into the game as a condition of progression. This research has confirmed that games should be of interest to disability theorists, and it has demonstrated the relevance of disability theory to the study of games. (Carr, under review)

    Examining the bodies within games has raised questions about embodiment and embodied interpretation. A review of game studies literature on the topic of embodiment found that the term is used to cover a range of different concepts. It was argued that there is a need to develop a theory of games embodiment that does not inadvertently construct a standardized (i.e. able) body. A tool for sifting theories to ascertain their pertinence to this inquiry was proposed and productively applied to theories of game embodiment. (Carr 2013)

    Disability studies literature on narrative (Mitchell and Snyder 2000) and bodies on screen (Smith 2011, Mogk 2013) was applied to games. It was found that, within horror games:

    “ability is associated with agency and the capacity to act, with adulthood and autonomy, and with the need to control and police the body. Through assessment in these games, ability is rendered tangible. By representing ability as demonstrable and measurable, games bring “uncertain phenomena into material reality” (O’Connor, Rees and Joffe 2012, p. 5). At the same time, these games incorporate scenarios that employ disability in conventional ways: disability’s threatening cultural associations are leveraged for affect, and disabled bodies are used to embody loss and deviance.” (Carr, pending 2014)

    The presence of assessment within the games analysed (and the ways in which assessment, knowledge and effectiveness were depicted) was found to reflect dominant contemporary models of health, and discourses of autonomy and adulthood. It was argued that there are compelling parallels between these games (with their interest in assessment, classification and differentiation) and the genealogies of education and education policy outlined in Ball’s book on ‘Foucault, Power and Education’ (2012) The relevance of Foucault’s work on discourse, bodies, power and classification to digital games has been little explored to date. Furthermore, it was found that Foucault’s work on leprosy was relevant to an account of the function of zombies in post-apocalyptic games. Work on this topic (ability, disability and the ‘logic of the clinic’ in horror and science fiction games) will be ongoing during 2014.

    It was also found that the games under analysis are science fictions (according to Sobchack’s definition, for example, Sobchack 1987), yet these generic affiliations have rarely been explored within the game studies literature.

    The project events (December 2013, February 2014) were well attended. The events were the venue for group discussions that led to the reviving of a bid to establish a UK chapter of the Digital Games Research Association.


    Digital Games and Disability (pending) monograph proposal accepted, due late 2014.

    Carr, D (under review) ‘Able Bodies, Disability and Decorum in Dead Space’. Journal article.

    Carr, D (pending, 2014) ‘Representations of Ability in Digital Games’. Paper for the Critical Evaluation of Game Studies Seminar. 28-29 April 2014, University of Tampere, Finland

    Carr, D (forthcoming 2014) ‘Weird Spheres, Bursting Bodies and Peculiar Tools: Disability, Masculinity and the Monstrous in the Dead Space Series’, conference presentation, accepted for Diversity in Speculative Fiction – Loncon 3, 72nd World Science Fiction Convention. 14-18th August 2014. London, UK.

    Carr, D. (2013) ‘Bodies, Augmentation and Disability in Dead Space and Deus Ex: Human Revolutions’, for FROG Conference, Vienna September 27-28th. Published in the proceedings of the 7th Vienna Games Conference, FROG 2013 Context Matters! Exploring and Reframing Games in Context, K. Mitgutsch, S. Huber, J.Wimmer, M. G. Wagner, H. Rosenstingl (Eds.) Vienna. New Academic Press Org. 2013, pp 31-41

    Carr, D. (2013a) ‘Red Shirts and Black Holes’, paper for Avoidance and/in the Academy. The International Conference on Disability, Culture and Education. Liverpool Hope University 11 – 12th September 2013

    Carr, D. (2013b) ‘Representations of Ability and Disability in Dead Space and Deus Ex: Human Revolutions’, for the ICA Pre-Conference on Digital Games, London, 17th June 2013

    Carr, D (2013c) ‘Damage and Decorum in Dead Space’, invited talk for Contemporary Fiction Research Seminar, 16th March 2013 (University of London IES seminar series)

    Convened event: Bodies, Methods, Fields and Networks: Digital Games Research Event. IOE, University of London 27th February 2014

    Convened event: Digital Games Research Seminar. IOE, University of London Monday 2nd December 2013


    Ball, S. J. (2012). Foucault, Power, and Education. Routledge.

    Goggin, G., & Newell, C. (2003). Digital disability: The social construction of disability in new media. Rowman & Littlefield.

    Linton, S. (1998). Claiming disability: Knowledge and identity. NYU Press.

    Mitchell, D. T., & Snyder, S. L. (2000). Narrative prosthesis: Disability and the dependencies of discourse. University of Michigan Press.

    Mogk, M. E. (Ed.). (2013). Different Bodies: Essays on Disability in Film and Television. McFarland.

    O’Connor, C., Rees, G., & Joffe, H. (2012). Neuroscience in the public sphere. Neuron, 74(2), 220-226.

    Smith, A. (2011). Hideous Progeny: Disability, Eugenics, and Classic Horror Cinema. Columbia University Press.

    Snyder, S. L., Brueggemann, B. J., & Thomson, R. G. (Eds.). (2002). Disability studies: Enabling the humanities New York: Modern Language Association of America.

    Sobchack, V. C. (1987). Screening space: The American science fiction film. Rutgers University Press.

    Project dates: From March 2013, 10 months, part-time (.6) with a no-cost extension to April 30th 2014 to allow participation at the Critical Evaluation of Game Studies event in Tampere, Finland April 28-29th 2014.

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