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…

Autism and the Virtues of Single-Player RPGs

Autism and the Virtues of Single-Player RPGs. Screenshot of Mass Effect

Guest blogger: Amalena is a freelance writer and editor, and just received her BFA in Creative Writing. She loves fantasy novels, singing opera, and video games. You can check out more of her work on her blog, Some Girl with a Braid, and follow her on Twitter.

As an autistic individual, there’s a special place in my heart for single-player role-playing games. I started with Skyrim, fell in love, and have since added other games such as Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Portal, Diablo, and Assassin’s Creed to my computer.

As an autistic, one of the best things for me when it comes to games is the predictability. While exploring the world can provide plenty of unpredictability as far as spawning adversaries, especially for the first time, doing replays removes much anxiety-inducing uncertainty and allows pure enjoyment. I also know that completing the storylines will result in positive social interactions from the NPCs populating the virtual environment. In real life, social disability colors all my interactions. I don’t know if completing my questline will result in a positive experience; I’m liable to put my foot in my mouth at any moment, sometimes without realizing it. Video games are generally devoid of those situations. … 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…

Geeky Gimp Birthday Event: Streaming for AbleGamers Charity #SoEveryoneCanGame

The Geeky Gimp's Live Birthday event for AbleGamers Charity August 27

Join me on my birthday for a fundraising event to benefit AbleGamers Charity!

On August 27th, from 2pm to 8pm EST, I’ll stream games on my Twitch channel and collect donations for this wonderful organization. AbleGamers’ goal is to ensure video games are accessible and affordable for a plethora of disabled gamers; they offer grants, services, and equipment so everyone can game.

Make sure to follow my Twitch page to know when I go live, and pop in the chat on the aforementioned date to find the donate link!

I hope you stop by the stream even if you are unable to contribute financially. I’m giving away two $50 gift cards to Steam or Amazon (your choice), so you won’t want to miss out.

Shares on social media are also greatly appreciated – just link to this post! The more we get the word out, the more money we can send to AbleGamers – and then, they can help more people live their gaming dream. Being able to do this on my birthday is the best gift I could receive.

I ran a similar event last year, and raised $446. My goal this year is $500. Let’s see if we can go higher this time.

Happy gaming!

Follow The Geeky Gimp on Twitch

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…

Making Nintendo’s Switch Accessible through 3D Printing

Making Nintendo's Switch Accessible through 3D Printing. Image of a 3D printed joy con in background

While I haven’t been able to get my hands on a Switch, I am still following the accessibility reviews coming in from disabled gamers. One big issue is the Joy-Con controllers and the inability to remap their buttons in many games. When disabled programmer and designer A.J. Ryan emailed Nintendo about this access barrier, their response was anything but appropriate. An employee from Nintendo wrote: “I realize it can certainly be very frustrating to not be able to enjoy the same games as many others do due to having an unfortunate condition, and we sincerely empathize.”

Nintendo here is framing inaccessibility as a personal challenge to overcome rather than a design flaw that needs fixing. They are patronizing A.J. for wanting inclusive access rather than directly addressing the problem, and in the process, further stigmatizing disability in gaming. I’ve stated over and over again how accessibility cannot be an afterthought, and that it must be part of game development from the start. While disabled gamers wait for this tide to change, we make and rely on our hacks to play. We depend on the creativity and ingenuity of the disability community and non-disabled people working with us to partake in our favorite hobbies.

One such ingenious person is Julio Vazquez, a mechatronics engineer using the power of 3D printing to build accessories for disabled gamers; his latest project is a design for the Nintendo Switch’s Joy-Con. I was excited to interview him and learn more about this project.

A blue 3D printed case surrounding a printed, gray controller. There are two red buttons on top for the left and right controls.
Julio’s 3D-printed accessibility design for the Joy-Con

Read more…

Overwatch Developers, Don’t Ban Disabled Gamers

Overwatch Developers, Don't Ban Disabled Gamers text over an image of Sombra character page, a cartoon woman in neon clothes

These past three days, I’ve played Overwatch obsessively on PC, now understanding why many love this game. It took me a while to start playing, as I tend to avoid most competitive online experiences; they lean toward inaccessibility and obnoxious alpha players. While Overwatch can attract those sorts of gamers, I have yet to run into any in the teams I’ve played so far. I think it has a lot to do with the matchmaking system; it pairs you with those of similar skill levels. There are also practice modes to learn each character’s abilities and test them out before you jump into an online game. Overwatch is addicting, with beautiful graphics, smooth controls, and unlimited ammo. Each character has unique abilities and user interfaces that you can explore in detailed maps. When your team is victorious, there is a rush to try again, racking up your XP and hoping for an MVP vote from your comrades.

But what sets Overwatch apart from other first-person shooters is its accessibility.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…