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Philosophy Dry Run Series

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  • Mon, 11/07/2016 - 1:00pm - 2:00pm

         Philosophy DRY RUN Series Presents

                               Emily Dobson
        Master’s Student in Philosophy, University of Windsor

Representation of Disability in Video Games: An Analysis of ASD in To the Moon

Fair representation of people with disabilities and other minority groups is strongly needed in the media today, especially in wide-reaching mediums like video games. Typical representations have promoted harmful misconceptions about disability, which can lead to lower-self esteem in players. Video games can, when looking at the position of neuroatypical persons, be used to help educate players and remove not only the stigma, but also the pressure to conform to neurotypical standards. To the Moon is a story-driven, exploration-based game with minor puzzles that need to be completed before the player can move onto the next ‘memory’, or story segment. Story-driven games often have a high degree of character development that subtly unveils character traits, motivations, and goals. To the Moon fulfills this function by disclosing important features of character development in reverse chronological order. This allows the player to experience the main story as well as a sub-plot involving River’s challenges as a person with ASD.

I argue that the subtlety used to allow River’s personality and experiences to unfold naturally provides a fairer representation of a person who falls within the autistic spectrum. The freedom of an exploration type game with puzzles relating only to objects makes it possible for characters like River to disclose themselves naturally and be as they are without pressure from the player to change them. This type of indirect representation can help to avoid negative representation or blatant erasure that only serves to perpetuate the notion that people with disabilities, especially neuroatypical individuals, need to be fixed. The style of gameplay in To the Moon and other story-focused games provide a model for a type of representation that can be explored and expanded in other types of video games. Given the success of recent games like To the Moon, game developers should not only be willing to take the risk of attempting to fairly represent these groups, but they should also be held accountable for what they choose to represent in their games.

Monday, November 7, 2016 @ 1:00 p.m.
Room 2193, Chrysler Hall North

Admission is free.  All are welcome to attend.

Carolin Lekic
(519)253-3000 ext.2319