Mad studies follows in the tradition of Mad pride anti-psychiatry movements that reclaim the term “Mad” as a rejection of the medical model of mental illness. Disability studies and disability pride movements are similarly reclaiming that difficult word “crip.” Eli Clare reminds us that “The ugly words – faggot, queer, nigger, retard, cripple, freak – come highly charged with emotional and social history. Which of us can use these words to name our pride?” (109). Mad, crip, disabled, person with a disability, mentally ill, crazy, neurodiverse. These words carry histories of harm, of shame and oppression, but also of pride. We grapple with these terms and their meanings.
Madness/mental illness and disability are common tropes in videogames, from the “crazy” inmates in games like Sanitarium Massacre (2014) and Asylum (2015) to the physical disabilities and deformities of enemies in the Resident Evil and Fallout franchises. Disabled characters tend to appear as villains, sidekicks, and/or background props to add “flavour” to games, rather than as protagonists in their own right. These media representations both infantilize disabled bodies and perpetuate harmful stereotypes about Mad persons as violent. However, some indie game designers are creating radically Mad/crip play experiences, from Will O’Neill’s Actual Sunlight to Kaitlin Tremblay’s There Are Monsters Under Your Bed. Yet access to games and gaming culture remains overwhelmingly exclusive to the assumed default able-bodied player. This special issue invites Mad and crip perspectives on games, play, and gaming culture. Some of this work is already being done— check out “How Octodad works as an analogy for invisible illnesses” on invisible disability/illness in Octodad, or “The Spoon Theory- What Is A Spoonie?” (YouTube, 11:42) which uses The Sims to explain spoon theory— but more is needed, and this issue hopes to continue a dialogue about the relationship between gaming culture and Mad/disabled bodies, identities, and experiences.
Articles might discuss (but are not limited to):
- Representations of disability and/or Mad bodies in games
- Access/lack of access to games, gaming spaces, and games culture
- Mad or disabled game designers
- BIPOC and QOC intersections with disability in games
- Personal accounts of playing while Mad/crip
- Intersections with gender and sexuality
- Representations of the psychiatric/biomedical industry in games
- Problematizing games for mental health
Abstracts should be 150-250 words in length, and are due on November 10th. Articles may be commentaries, essays, book reviews, interviews, mutli-media projects, or other formats. Submissions are now closed!
Clare, Eli. Exile and Pride. Durham: Duke University Press, 2015. Print.