Accessibility and Gaming, part 1

I have been getting more into gaming lately. It’s the best thing to do when I’m especially ill because it distracts me from feeling terrible, and it’s just plain fun. Naturally, I think about accessibility in gaming.

I usually play with the sound off because I’m not super into the music on games. When on my PC, I’ll listen to my own music while playing. I have arthritis and some dexterity-driven games are not for me. Very stressful games aren’t for me either. The games below, I played on PC and purchased through Steam.

Stardew Valley: This is a wonderful, low-key game that involves farming, fishing, mining, and scavenging, and occasionally interacting with villagers. You can play at your own pace and sound is not required. I use my mouse left-handed*, and this game is designed for a Right handed mouse. Although I found a page for switching keyboard commands, I couldn’t find a way to switch the mouse buttons. I ended up leaving the mouse button commands alone and still playing Left handed, and switching the keyboard commands to accommodate my right hand being on the keyboard. Fishing is difficult and requires dexterity. However, there’s a mod that makes all fishing easy. I downloaded and installed this mod with the help of some internet tutorials. I played this game a lot and it was very relaxing.

Undertale: I gave up on this game mostly because it requires high dexterity. I admit that the art wasn’t really my style either.

Never Alone: I gave this a try and it was rather stressful, as it involves a lot of running away from polar bears and such. The game play is also sometimes difficult and requires dexterity, and again I was using left handed mouse which didn’t seem natural for the default controls. It’s very beautiful and I might try again someday, but my favorite parts were the “cultural insights” (Northern indigenous people talking about their cultures) which I could probably just watch on YouTube.

*I am not technically left-handed; but I have pain in my right shoulder so made this switch years ago. These days my left hand is my “good hand”.

post is to be continued as I have more games to write about!

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Nerve block round 2

Today I went in for an appointment to repeat my nerve block.  The doctor and medical staff were all lovely.  But I arrived at about 2:35 and didn’t leave until 5 pm for a short appointment.  I was a bit early but got into a room right away.  Did the intake paperwork and questions.  Then sat to wait, and wait, and wait.  I tried to read my book but felt too tired.  I put my head on my hand, leaned on the desk, and fell asleep.

The very kind medical assistant came back in an apologized, and offered me hot chocolate or coffee, which I accepted.  Then I saw the doctor.  She thanked me for waiting and we proceeded.

I had a vasovagal reaction to the injection.  This means your blood pressure drops, you feel queasy and hot, and you better not stand up because you could faint or throw up.  Faiting is mainly a concern because you could hit your head or otherwise injure yourself.  This has happened to me a few times before, including once when I gave blood.  They lowered the table flat, gave me some cold washcloths, and made me lie still for an hour, monitoring my blood pressure and heart rate.  Even after I was feeling better, my heart rate refused to rise until I got up and walked around with the nurse.  By this time it was nearly 5 pm and my doctor had gone home.

The doctor asked if I’d had enough to eat today.  I said, probably not.  In part I had not planned to sit in the waiting room for an hour; I’d expected to be in and out.  Luckily I had a granola bar, some hard candy, and a water bottle in my bag.

If this goes like last time, I expect to get a bad headache tonight, so I bought popsicles and made sure my ice packs are in the freezer.

Health care can take a lot of time and be a lot of work.

Small activism for people with limited energy or resources

What can we do, as chronically ill people? We are often not people who can plan and lead marches. We generally cannot work long hours. Many of us have trouble with phone calls due to anxiety. Many of us are poor and cannot donate or purchase supplies.

Here’s what we can do.
Link sharing of important information, research and fact-checking.
Emotional labor, such as telling people we care for them, leaving supportive comments, linking to cute animal pictures and music.
Listening to people’s troubles. Using Skype and calling our friends. Sometimes you understand something so much better when you describe it to someone else; you can think through a problem when you talk to someone.
Sending packages or notes in the mail.
Producing fanfic, fanworks, art, etc. Journaling. Creating. Letting our voices be heard. Reminding the world that we exist.
Wearing buttons– making ourselves and our positions visible to the world.
Starting conversations. Being allies as best we can.
Sharing what resources and skills we have. For instance cooking, proof reading, pet sitting.
Taking care of ourselves and each other, because survival is essential. Reminding others to do self-care. Affix your own oxygen mask before assisting others.

An Apology

At WisCon’s opening ceremonies I attempted to give an “elevator talk” (2 to 3 minutes) describing the social model of disability.

The metaphor I used was eye glasses and contact lenses: many of us wear corrective lenses and do not consider them to be a marker of disability. While impairment exists in my vision, my eyesight is not disabling because society does not make it so. It is relatively easy to acquire corrective lenses in most cases, because both brick-and-mortar stores and online stores supply them, and because doctors and community members encourage you to use them. There is wide support for these pieces of assistive tech in the society I live in, and they are mostly non-stigmatized, with some exceptions such as very thick lenses.

I contrasted corrective lenses to wheelchairs, which are highly stigmatized. Doctors and community members will generally not encourage you to use them; they are expensive and difficult to acquire; difficult to fix when broken; and infrastructure in our society does not support them, unlike corrective lenses.

A WisCon member pointed out to me later that I missed an intersection having to do with race: Glasses are designed for white people. People with flatter features (for instance some Asian people) can have a lot of trouble getting glasses that fit correctly, as glasses tend to rest on a prominent nose.

I completely missed this intersection of oppression and I apologize for causing pain. I will be more mindful in the future.

Mia Mingus and disability justice

I’m going to write about seeing Mia Mingus! She is so awesome, has so many great ideas, such great open energy. By culture and personality, I am somewhat conflict averse, and yet also drawn to things that involve cognitive dissonance, which is a problem. Mia has this way of being hungry for the conflict, of digging into with enthusiasm. Like, YES, let’s TALK about that uncomfortable thing! And it is just honestly such a relief.

I went to a small group session where we talked about a couple of her essays from her website:
1. Changing the Framework: Disability justice

2.  Acccess Intimacy: the missing link

3.  Moving Toward the Ugly: A politic beyond desirability

The third one really blew my mind. LOVED it. Here is another way of resisting respectability politics: embrace magnificence instead of prettiness. Be memorable, own the way you look and are.

We talked a bit about being uncomfortable with “body positivity”, and the intersection of disability and fat politics. This is an exciting area to me and I’d like to see more people talking about it. These are both highly stigmatized categories and activists from the two groups seem to want to avoid each other due to this stigma, even though the intersection between the two groups is pretty readily apparent. Think of fat activists emphasizing “health at any size” and talking about how they are healthy and active at their weight–centering health, which is not exactly friendly to those of us who are not in good health. Meds can cause weight gain or loss; weight (high or low) itself can be associated with certain illnesses; etc. Anyways, Dave Hingsburger writes about this a bit (mostly the stigma of being a fat wheelchair user). And I always, always rec The Fat Nutritionist, especially this post: The Obligation to be healthy at every size  (You have no obligation to be healthy).

Mia Mingus talked about how when we are so committed to the social model of disability (or any kind of social model), we can run up against the wall of our bodies. And so we need to talk about embodiment. I think part of loving and caring for our bodies is acknowledging that being embodied can totally suck sometimes. It is ok to feel negative.

During her key note, Mia Mingus talked about transformative justice and her work using it to address child sexual abuse (often adult survivors of same). She works with the Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective. One of the themes of her talk was building alternatives to our state institutions, because how can we depend on the state to address violence when the state uses violence and oppression against us?

This event was part of the Gender and Women’s Studies 40th anniversary event on campus. I went to some of the events the next day, but they were… much more academic and kind of not my thing.

An Ableist Microaggression: “It’s nice to see you walking!”

Last week my friend Jesse and I went out shopping to a store we like where we know a number of the staff members. Jesse took her walker rather than wheelchair, principally because it is easier for me to drive and load the walker in my car, than it is to load the wheelchair into the minivan.

One thing that happened as we were leaving the store is the staff person said to Jesse, “It’s nice to see you up,” as in upright, not using the wheelchair.

This is a microaggression. (link to Wikipedia).

First, the assumption that an acquaintance or even stranger has the right to comment on your assistive tech, on your presumed health status, on your body– that you would even want to know what some stranger thinks. But people do this all the time and they think it’s a good thing. They think it’s welcome praise, that is a nice fuzzy compliment.

They think it’s praise because they value being upright and walking over using a wheelchair, even though it is a value-neutral distinction. It may be better for you and your self-care to use to the wheelchair, but hardly anyone will praise you for that. You should use what will work best for you, cause you the least pain, not what society values.

They think it’s praise because they think it’s an improvement in health status. This demonstrates an incomplete and failed knowledge of chronic illness, mobility impairments, and assistive tech. Many people who use assistive tech use that tech occasionally or periodically, and again, it is value-neutral to do so. Diseases get worse and they get incompletely better. It happens. And sometimes you use the tech for more practical reasons that have nothing to do with your disease/impairments, but rather to do with the barriers that exist in society. Maybe walkers or walking sticks are easier in the airport than your wheelchair is, for example, even though the wheelchair is more comfortable. Maybe you don’t want to risk the airport damaging or losing your expensive and valuable wheelchair. Maybe you’d use your wheelchair all the time if society didn’t suck so much.