Archive for February, 2015

Rethinking Disablity Onscreen

February 4, 2015

I did not put in an abstract for DiGRA 2015. I did put one in for Rethinking Disability Onscreen. It is in York at the same time as DiGRA. More information is here.

Here’s the abstract:

Abject Bodies, Agency and Able-bodied Masculinity in Horror Games

Theorists have studied the ways in which disability is explored and exploited within horror cinema (Smith 2011, Snyder and Mitchell, 2006). In this presentation, the resemblances between horror films and horror games will be traced, and the place of disability within horror games will be examined. This will involve drawing on relevant theory (e.g. Garland Thomson 1997; Mogk 2013) and undertaking close ‘readings’ of relevant games, including Dead Space, The Last of Us, and The Walking Dead.

Like horror films, horror games often depict abject bodies threatening able bodies. Abject bodies have the power to contaminate able bodies. Able bodied identity is represented as precarious, fragile and conditional. What horror games can do, because they are games, is to associate the agency of the protagonist on screen, with the agency of the player (as operator, driver, viewer and strategist). What this also means is that a game can threaten the protagonist and the player with disability, while simultaneously offering them an opportunity to engage in an assessed performance of attributes that are culturally associated with ability – such as precision, corporeal control and efficiency (Carr, 2014). Furthermore, these games depict the precariousness of able bodies as a particularly male problem. In this presentation these issues will be explored using a combination of disability theory, games analysis, and game studies perspectives.