Graduation Year

2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department

Communication

Major Professor

Ambar Basu, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Mahuya Pal, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Mahuya Pal, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sara Green, Ph.D.

Keywords

Accessibility, Autoethnography, Body, Communication, Disability, Video games

Abstract

Within the context of culture, disability has long existed as a stigmatizing quality (Goffman, 1963). As a result, people with disabilities are often overlooked or completely omitted from various, cultural artifacts. This exclusion of people with disabilities is largely recognized as unproblematic because their disabilities imply an inevitable failing. Through my own experiences as a disabled gamer, I have recognized that video games have also framed gamers with disabilities as problematic. Video games are largely constructed in a one-size-fits-all mentality (Grammenos, 2014), where very specific people, with very specific kinds of bodies, are granted access to play them. Since disabled gamers are not necessarily capable of playing video games in similar ways that able-bodied gamers can, it is assumed that we can't play video games and that we shouldn't want to. By using autoethnography as theory, I venture through a few stories from my life in which my own disability has rendered gaming either difficult or impossible. I seek to use these autoethnographic pieces as living examples of the problems involved with a traditional discussion of accessibility for people with disabilities. This thesis is a call for a renegotiation of "accessibility," and how generalized formulations of this concept are still capable of excluding people who are disabled in very particular ways. In accordance with Shakespeare's (2006) interactive model, I use my stories to show how my disability is a culmination of both the material and social qualities of my body. It is from this model that I seek transcendence from thinking of disabled bodies in either a medical or social model (Oliver, 1990) approach. Accessibility should be regarded as an interactive and cyclical process, which takes place between the individual, her body, the environment, and back again. An assessment of video game accessibility should be referred to in a similar way, where developers may attempt to be inclusive to people of varying kinds and levels of disability, rather than focusing solely on able-bodied modes of gaming.

Included in

Communication Commons

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