Blog a Day 167of365: Kinect/Move and the Disabled

I’m a cynic when it comes to motion based gaming. Besides being a lazy sod who prefers to lounge on the sofa pressing buttons on a controller, there are other reasons. For one, when I like to do energetic things I prefer to do them outside. If I’m going to be spending my time indoors pretending to play tennis on the Wii, I’d rather just go outside and actually do it. There’s a bigger reason than this though.

As a few people might know, my Mum’s partially disabled. I say partially because most people wouldn’t be able to tell. Due to a nasty car accident 25 years ago, her neck was damaged. A few discs are fused together even after numerous operations. This means that her right, and dominant, arm is pretty useless. She can’t lift anything heavier than about 500g with it, she can’t write for long periods of time and she’s in constant pain. She also can’t move her neck about anywhere near as much as a normal person which is very restrictive. A tens machine that she uses all day, every day, stops complete agony but she’s still always in pain. You wouldn’t be able to tell on a good day though because she doesn’t complain. God knows how, I know I’d complain a lot. I nearly went insane when I broke my foot and that wasn’t a life changing problem. She’s got this for the rest of her life with the only other option being an extremely risky operation that could leave her paralysed. She’s clearly a better person than me to keep going through this.

On a bad day you won’t see her because she’ll be in agony, on very strong painkillers and mostly entirely dependent on me (previously me and my Dad).

Anyway, her injury means that the Wii is not much use for her. There’s too much movement. She was keen to play Zelda: Twilight Princess but with having to wave the wiimote around, she was stuck every time there was any combat and I had to take over. Now she doesn’t bother with the Wii much except for a few exceptions, usually point and click adventures. Similarly she can’t play the drums in Rock Band/Guitar Hero and she can only play the guitar on easy difficulty in short doses as her fingers can’t cope with it.

I had a brief glimpse of the problems with the Wii last summer. It sounds odd but despite having a broken foot rather than broken arm or something, I had problems using the Wii. I didn’t realise how much my whole body moves when shaking the Wiimote but it’s a surprising amount. Also deeply unpleasant if you’ve got a small bone loose in your foot at the time. The Wii was ignored for much of the summer because of this unfortunate problem.

Kinect and Move is on the way now and I’m hoping it will continue to supplement the normal gaming method rather than replace it. At least in its current guise. Besides being a lazy sod, I can see this marginalising my Mum and presumably others in similar situations which can’t be good at all. I’m a little disappointed but not overly surprised to see so little coverage of this angle. Only AbleGamers seem to have looked at this angle and I suspect that the only people who will read it are those who already know the problems that disabled gamers face. AbleGamers make some great points in that article so do read it.

I’m certainly not self righteous enough to say I know everything. Far from it. My Mum has a relatively minor disability compared to many and I’ve only ever been temporarily disabled. I do wish more coverage was given though.

I suppose it’s hypocritical really as arguably I am someone who could write more on the issue. I have once before for TheGameReviews but maybe I should write more. It’s an issue that I feel rather strongly about after all.

For now though, I’ll remain cynical of what’s to come until proven otherwise.

2 Thoughts to “Blog a Day 167of365: Kinect/Move and the Disabled”

  1. A

    Like everything, I suppose it’s because disabled gamers are in the minority, and if motion-based games are the biggest cash cows of the moment, the big developers aren’t going to care much about those with limited movement when there’s easy money to be made from the 95% who don’t have any physical problems.

    Seems like a similar problem to that of deaf gamers, who often complain when subtitles aren’t provided for them.

    I’m not saying that ignoring access for disabled gamers is right… it’s not… but money talks.

  2. Well said! Something I love about the internet is the opportunity it provides for people to come together on an equal footing. I’m not sold on the motion control games anyway, but the exclusion of disabled gamers is something I find deeply offensive.

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