Night in the Woods: Where It’s Okay Not to Be Okay

Night in the Woods: Where it's OK to not be OK. A cartoon cat image with big, yellow eyes

Guest blogger: Deborah J. Brannon (codename: Geek Dame) spends her days in the Southeastern United States, scribbling furiously as a freelancer and speculative fiction writer. In her free time that may or may not exist – it’s in a box somewhere with a cat, she really doesn’t like opening it – she plays video games and reads books and talks about both incessantly. Find out more at www.geekdame.com or follow her on Twitter at @geekdame.

“The point remains that this is the setup for some great stories.”

“Or terrible, horrifying, traumatic experiences.”

“Great clearly means different things for us.”

Gregg and Bea, Night in the Woods

Welcome to Night in the Woods. There is death here and disappointment and decay. There is also connection and catharsis and care. It’s okay not to be okay, and it’s okay to change your mind. You may face a cosmic horror, or meet the truest heart – all in a playfully illustrated, easy-to-navigate video game. … Read more…

Facing Anxiety: Streaming Games While Disabled

Facing Anxiety: Streaming Games While Disabled. Erin staring at her computer screen

Through most of my life, I’ve been afraid of public speaking. I always found more comfort in the written word; there’s a relief in the solace of the craft, and it gives me time to construct the perfect sentence. Getting my job at Easterseals forced me into public speaking, mostly over the phone. I facilitate conferences between our organization and potential influencers, report my progress during our department meetings, and hold one-on-one chats with my boss every Friday. All of these things would have seemed impossible to me a few years ago. Now, I still feel that twist in my stomach as my voice shakes, and my mind goes blank when asked questions. But with over two years of working there, I learned to find that confidence to speak, and to (mostly) not care if someone misunderstands me or notices how nervous I am.

Building that energy to speak publicly also affected my work here at The Geeky Gimp. I’ve branched off and made a podcast, hosted live events on Google, and now stream regularly on Twitch. I even appear on Geek Girl Riot, a show on Idobi Radio with over 20,000 listeners. Being forced to approach my fears led to other opportunities that I enjoy, and different ways to express myself. I’m able to reach out to more audiences about disability inclusion and accessibility. And more importantly, I’ve made some amazing friends through these projects where I would otherwise feel isolated. … Read more…

Accessibility in Destiny 2: A Deaf Gamer’s Perspective

Accessibility in Destiny 2: A Deaf Gamer's Perspective

Thanks so much to Chris for writing this guest blog post and sharing his point-of-view as a deaf gamer. Follow him on Twitch to see some stellar Destiny 2 action.


September 6, 2017, was a big day for both old and new Destiny players; Destiny 2 was finally released on Playstation 4 and Xbox One!  

From my experience with Destiny 1, it was a game that you could pick up the controller and possibly never put it down. There was a rewarding feeling, with all the grinding, when you completed something hard as a team.

So now that Destiny 2 is here, I’ve been playing it almost non-stop! To tell you the truth, I wasn’t planning on buying Destiny 2 because I didn’t want to get addicted to it. I didn’t want to deal with the frustration of trying to find a team to play with when it’s required to have a mic to coordinate with the players. I don’t use a mic because I’m deaf. I don’t want to annoy people by repeatedly asking “what?” every time I didn’t understand them; but I ended up getting the game anyway, knowing that I may run into the same issues again. However, Bungie (developers of Destiny) somewhat made it easier to actually find people with the overhaul of the Bungie.net website; now it’s easy to post your LFG (looking for gamers) on there, and people tend to immediately join up. … Read more…

On Perception and Authentic Disability Representation

Perception and Authentic Disability Representation. A woman with moths on her face, her eyes are blank and Perception is in braille

Perception is a horror exploration game attempting to bring forth a strong disabled protagonist with an original gameplay style. In this title made by the same developers of BioShock, you play as Cassie, a blind woman who taps her cane on surfaces to see, much like echolocation. When tapping Cassie’s cane, a blue wave emits and briefly shows the outline of the objects in your vicinity. If you tap your cane too much, an evil force is disturbed; you can take cover briefly in one of the hiding locations you come across, like in a wicker basket or under a bed. You also have access to Cassie’s cell phone, and can use it to take pictures of different texts, like prescription bottles or cards, and have the accessibility program on the phone read them aloud for you.

It’s rare to find a video game that realistically portrays disability, and abled developers and storytellers often rely on tropes to carry their narrative. With Perception, I was wary of the blind person with echolocation stereotype; but I thought if developers could show a disabled person using accessibility tools to navigate the world and solve mysteries, it would be a step toward normalizing disabled characters in video games. So even if the whole echolocation bit concerned me, I was willing to give it a shot. I backed the digital copy on Kickstarter and waited over a year to finally play it.

I want to point out that I am not blind or have low vision. My disability affects my strength, dexterity, and range-of-motion, so I am going to start with my initial thoughts and access barriers, then bring in the voices of actual blind/low-vision gamers to share their experiences. … Read more…

The Accessibility of Mouse-Only Games, and Five Favorites

The Accessibility of Mouse-Only Games, and Five Favorites

As my disability progresses, I find it cumbersome to navigate a keyboard and mouse simultaneously in computer games. PlayStation or Xbox controllers are inaccessible for me right out of the box, so I’ve gravitated toward mouse-only games in the past few years as my primary source of computer entertainment. I can still enjoy the occasional first-person shooter if the keys are remappable, but even then, it’s hard to manage multiple buttons and engage in quick mouse reflexes. Even worse is when designers insist on using button mashing as a mechanic, like in the Telltale Walking Dead games (seriously, stop), which frustrates abled and disabled gamers alike. While mouse-only is a great alternative for disabled individuals, it also creates a streamlined user experience for those who don’t require accessibility hacks.

Below you’ll find some of my favorite mouse-only games I’ve played recently, all available on Steam. Let me know what you think of my picks, share your own in the comments below, or send a tweet to @geekygimp! … Read more…

Will the Nintendo Switch Be Accessible for Disabled Gamers?

I have fond memories of playing Mario Bros, Zelda, and Pokémon on a plethora of Nintendo consoles. The last time I picked up a Nintendo title was when Ocarina of Time came out; since then, the system became increasingly inaccessible, especially with the Wii. I felt like the company focused on getting people to move around, leaving many disabled people to look elsewhere for their entertainment. Motion-sensing games are not feasible for someone who can’t move their arms or hold up a bulky controller. The size of the N64 was cumbersome too, but my disability wasn’t as progressed at that time to render it completely inaccessible. Earlier systems, like the original Nintendo and the SNES, had smaller, lighter controllers with fewer buttons, but console designers moved away from that user experience. … Read more…

The Geeky Gimp’s Best of 2016

The Geeky Gimp's Best of 2016. Image of Erin overlayed with fireworks.

While 2016 has been a difficult year for many, I want to reflect on my favorite things that helped me get through the hardest days. Our joy and entertainment, our binge-watching Netflix or slipping away for a few hours with a good book, will aid us now and in the coming years. I hope you enjoy my Best of 2016 list – in the comments below, let me know what you think of my choices, and what’s on your best-of list!

Best Video Game: Stardew Valley

Best video game: Stardew Valley by Chucklefish

By far my most-played game this year, clocking in at 129 hours and counting. You leave a dull office job and travel to Stardew Valley, a small, struggling community with a farm you’ve just inherited from your grandfather. By growing, harvesting, and selling crops, as well as caring for livestock, you earn enough money to expand your farm and help rebuild the derelict community center. You can also go fishing and mining to level up your character. The game never punishes you too much, and there are no time limits for the overall goals; this eliminates the boring grind of most farming sims. Despite all the hours put in, I feel like I’ve just scratched the surface. Pick this up if you liked Harvest MoonAvailable on Steam. … Read more…

October 8th Live Stream for The @AbleGamers Charity, #SoEveryoneCanGame

AbleGAMers logo is orange with a black joystick

Join me October 8th for a live-stream gaming event benefiting The AbleGamers Charity! Starting at 5pm EST and lasting until 10pm, I’ll play some of my favorite video games over on The Geeky Gimp twitch.tv channel. Watch along, chat, and donate if you can! I’m also going to tweet using #SoEveryoneCanGame, so follow me there for more gaming goodness. My goal is $400, and I can only reach that with your help!

Anyone that tunes in and donates has a chance to win cool, nerdy prizes like a Han Solo pop figurine, Star Wars socks, DC Comics merch, and other surprises. Can’t make it October 8th? No worries – if you contribute funds before the event, you’re automatically entered to snag a prize. Winners will be announced during and after the event as needed. As always, contact me with any questions or concerns.

More on AbleGamers from their website:

Game joystick cartoonThe AbleGamers Charity has served the more than 100 million gamers with disabilities in the disabled community since 2004 as thought leaders, accessibility experts, and assistive technology creators. Over the last decade, AbleGamers has helped hundreds of thousands of gamers with disabilities through the various services and programs offered to the disability community. Providing free, customized solutions, expansive resources, thorough consultations and advocating for gamers with disabilities are the top priorities for the AbleGamers Foundation.

Until then, happy gaming!

Review of The 100 Greatest Console Video Games: 1977-1987

Erin reading the book, looking up at the camera

Cover of book, looks like a NES gameDo you remember the first console game you played? For me, it was probably Video Olympics (with Pong included) or Asteroids on the Atari 2600. Turning that knob to slide the paddles up and down, or pushing that joystick to avoid enemy fire was pure joy for my 5-year-old self. Those pixelated titles ushered in the Golden Age of video games, and it’s striking to see how far we’ve come since then. While we may scoff at console graphics of the late 70s and early 80s, we have to keep in mind how mind-blowingly advanced these systems were for their time. I’m sure 20 or 30 years down the line, PS4 games will pale in comparison to whatever technology has in store for us.

There’s a lot of interesting stories to tell about early console design that deserve attention, and Brett Weiss’ book, The 100 Greatest Console Video Games: 1977-1987, zooms in on this revolutionary era of gaming. It serves not only as a trip down memory lane, tapping into that nostalgia we so longingly crave, but it acts as an archive and provides a definitive history of popular titles. … Read more…

Pokemon Go: Developers Drop the Pokeball on Accessibility

Three shelves filled with plush Pikachu at a store

I was excited for a new, free Pokémon game – until I realized it wasn’t accessible.

I don’t begrudge anyone their fun with Pokémon Go. It’s a good way to get folks out and around in their community if they have the ability to do so. Seeing strangers bond over a shared interest is fantastic. Some have said it helps with their mental and emotional well-being. But developers are ignoring a significant portion of gamers – disabled people. Inaccessible games are nothing new (listen to me talk about it), but we can’t accept the status quo when it increasingly and continually marginalizes us.

So, what makes Pokémon Go not accessible for me and other disabled users?Read more…