I'm going to start this off as I mean to go on and I hope I can word this in a way that is not offensive, but there are some sentences that have to be said flat out. I’m calling out journalists and game developers, because this message is simple, it’s inclusive and I believe it’s just as important as any other gaming issue right now.
Why on earth have we not yet had a video game that features a lead character that happens to have a disability? Why hasn’t anyone realised how cool it would be to have your main playable character be someone who happens to be in wheelchair? The potential for a really fun video game that features a character that represents, you know, real people, who are part of the gaming demographic, is pretty great.
Why is would work as a game?
Have you ever watched a James Bond film? In it 007 is provided with a plethora of inventive gadgets and the vehicles that Q pimps and provides him with is fitted with a lot of fun and deadly gadgets and alterations. So we have our Western Wheelchair Warrior, our WWW and he/she/kiwi starts off with a regular wheelchair and through the course of the game (which i think would be great in an open world or interactive graphic game format) you gain XP and money, you can upgrade it, allowing for weapons, jet boosts and built in free Wi-Fi. The possibilities to make a wheelchair an awesome mech-like weapon and mobile hub for our heroic protagonist is plentiful and of course aesthetic customizations.
Films and games that don't straight off begin in a world that is utterly fictional, appeal to many viewers and gamers. If a game has a lot of semblance to our everyday lives, we can afford to invest some emotion and reciprocation. It's something that makes games like Gone Home and Life is Strange a little bit special, even in its simplicity. Here we'd have a game that could tactfully without focusing too hard on, explore what it's like to have a disability that requires a wheelchair to help your life be more accessible. The game could give us a little bit of insight from a controller point of view, which we would not get from a film or book.
It works as well because it's new and it's fresh and we're crying out for that all the time. It lets us play the genres of games we enjoy from a new perspective and gives developers and writers a chance to use their imagination, stretch to an untapped spot on the great gaming map and there's great possibilities with VR as well. I personally see this type of game working marvellously in a Saints Row style game, where the world is your action packed, plot twist written, oyster. But we could also have a game, because why limit to one, that is done ins Telltale graphic novel style. Possibilities are plentiful and wondrous.
At the same time I think it's important that a game that is all about the adventures of someone in a wheelchair, not heavily focus on that aspect because then we make it seem like everything about this character is dependent on this part of their life. But John Martson isn't all about the horse he rides and Commander Shepard was not just a soldier. WWW is a hero, they woke up getting on with a regular day and are suddenly thrown into a world of intrigue, conspiracy and possible some space battles.
Jet Set Radio Future meets Red Dead Redemption meets Fahrenheit is what is flashing through my mind right now. Neon noir japanese murder mystery corruption featuring the Western Wheelchair Warrior is the official tagline title of this game, so heads up whoever is making it, you're bound by cosmic law to adhere to it.
I’m a big advocate of inclusion for all in gaming (and life, but meh not everyone deserves access to the bakery where I get lime tarts). The area that needs more focus and effort is for gamers with disabilities. This is in relation to the accessibility of them to physically game and as we stand there are many wonderful innovations. I myself believe that a great use of such letdown peripherals such as the Kinect would be to really attempt to incorporate the ability to use motion control for deaf gamers to use sign language. I’ve written about this before and talked about that deaf character Gabe Newell was going to include in the fabled Half Life 3.
The continued innovation and public awareness of disabled gamers being able to partake in the hobby they love the same as everyone, be it in the home or at conventions ect is important and I look forward to see where it takes us. Right now and truth be told, a good while in the past, we could have been producing video games with characters that represent, respectfully and joyfully, disabled gamers. There are no limitations within video games if you have desire and a good script. If Bioware can create such an in-depth galaxy, with planets, space rafts, various alien creatures and special effects, then there’s no reason a game for WWW couldn't exist, right damn now!
What must not be done?
Quality, quality is key. Don't produce a game that is easily schlepped on Steam Greenlight and has the same aesthetic devotion as Air Control and the gameplay capabilities or lack of in Day One Garry’s Mod. This game would work extremely well with the graphics of Grand Theft Auto 5, Saints Row or even a cel-shaded style in homage of Jet Set Radio Future.
Don’t patronise. This should be common knowledge. Yes you have to tread carefully with certain areas and certain demographics, but everyone is human and if you’re a video gamer who can endure some of the more questionable games that exist out there, you’re more than likely able to laugh at your and laugh with others.
We have enough copy paste characters, primarily white males, but in general gaming needs a breath of fresh air in terms of characters and representation.
I’d say that most protagonists are boring planks of wood, but look even these planks of wood are diverse!
So much money and emphasis is spent on "realistic graphics" and yet you can't do something that is more important and less costly, which is - give us some realistic characters that have an ounce of diversity.