Representation in games and how it can effect players

Omnires

Well-Known Member
Aug 14, 2016
464
696
93
#1
I know this game takes place in the future with lots of advancements in technology and medical care. But that doesn't mean everyone will want to fit into other people's ideas of what "normal" is. And going by how video games choose to go about showing or not showing these people says a lot about the game's world and even sometimes about the people who made the game.

For example, in a lot of games people with disabilities, physical and mental, are often viewed in a negative light as if they are broken or something is wrong with them. I'm not saying all games do this, after all it is not uncommon to see a player character or NPC with prosthetics to replace or enhance physical traits. And that is fine and good. But what about people who might reject the use of prosthetics but still want to be just as skilled or as capable as an able bodied person? You don't often see them in games. And people with mental disabilities are often cast as being somehow lesser than other people or worse they are often cast as the bad guys. How many games have you played where they say the bad guys all have some kind of mental disorder? I bet a lot. But how think, how many games have you played there the good guys or even the player character has a mental disorder and it is shown in a positive light? Going to guess little to none. And it is because of this a number of people feel that media in general helps to spread these negative misconceptions and stigma about people with disabilities, especially when it comes to mental disabilities, panting everyone with these broad storks.

I'm not saying anything about this game or its game play needs to be changed. But just to be mindful how diversity and representation can work both positively and negatively. And can have a greater impact on the world outside of the game than you might think.

I make it no secret that I have both dyslexia and ADHD. And sure my dyslexia makes it harder for me to play games with a lot of text in them at a normal speed, especially when the text or dialogue boxes that auto scrolls or is on a timer that I can't control, because I might get stuck on a word or misread words forcing me to go back and reread it again just to make sure I didn't misunderstand the meaning. But if the text auto scrolls with no way to pause it or make it go back, or if the text just goes away after a set time, I might not be able to read the whole thing in time. I have lots of stories of when I got lost or stuck in a game just because I didn't have the ability to read at what the game felt was a "normal" speed. And although most people seem to think that people with ADHD are people who don't have the ability to focus, in fact the reverse is true as people with ADHD hyper focus to the point where it can work against them, often called things like tunnel vision. But at the same time I wouldn't want to "cure" my ADHD because i see it as part of who I am as a person and not something that needs to be fixed or controlled. Also it is because of my ADHD that I can be effective at playing some of the odder playing styles and builds in games, like a melee focused sniper or healer who focuses on dealing damage, despite people thinking those builds are odd and useless I still manage to play and win games using them easy.

TLDR : Here are 2 videos from Extra Credits that touch on the topic

 
Last edited:

Pandagnome

Kaiju Slayer
Happy Kaiju
Jul 27, 2016
3,960
4,526
113
Island of Tofu
mechadrive.com
#2
For example, in a lot of games people with disabilities, physical and mental, are often viewed in a negative light as if they are broken or something is wrong with them. I'm not saying all games do

https://deusex.fandom.com/wiki/Yelena_Fedorova
What came into my mind was one of the bosses in Deus Ex

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dexter_(TV_series)#Series_synopsis
In a tv series Dexter but seems more good thanks to his adopted police dad


I know someone with physical impairments he has to be more focused and work harder just to do the normal tasks such as picking items or walking. Mentally this makes him a stronger person in my view to be consistent each day.

Mental issues in my view a lot of the time talking and listening helps big time & just getting those positive messages/images to brighten up the day.

I am no expert even the best of us could get depressed some more than others.
Would hope to stay as positive and happy because at times the cloud of negativity spreads across various sources by Television, radio, social media, even people etc

So my strategy is avoiding people haha not always it helps me think and escape the hyper world we live in. Also just going back into nostalgia and then return back to the present, even playing a sport and running as if i was chased by a rhino helps me :D.

Mountain biking is my fave you get to explore the uncharted woodlands kind of like how i felt when on my lgv bike in firefall but not as fast or stylish :D

Btw this bike looks good!


reread it again just to make sure I didn't misunderstand the meaning
Think many of us do this and sometimes wonder if i even made sense so rereading certainly helps!
 
Likes: Omnires

Omnires

Well-Known Member
Aug 14, 2016
464
696
93
#3
And reading over my post again I spotted some errors. But rather than change them I'll let them stay as is to help prove a point. That even with the help of things like spell check spelling and grammar errors can still happen when a person with dyslexia tries to say something because they really can't see the errors at that point in time, the whole thing could look normal to them. As some of you might know from seeing me chat in things like Discord. Lol.

Here is a little test. Play this video and pause it when the paragraph shows up and try to read it before watching the rest of the video.
 
Likes: Pandagnome
Oct 29, 2016
48
100
33
#4
I tried hard to remember an NPC with disabillities... All I could think of is that one dwarf in the dragon age that is really REALLY into enchantment, Clem in Warframe, Alice in Wonderland, uhh... Gris counts? Sekiro with the prosthetic, and Senua. The other that I remembered are pure bad guys like Vaas in Far Cry 3.
 

Pandagnome

Kaiju Slayer
Happy Kaiju
Jul 27, 2016
3,960
4,526
113
Island of Tofu
mechadrive.com
#5
And reading over my post again I spotted some errors. But rather than change them I'll let them stay as is to help prove a point. That even with the help of things like spell check spelling and grammar errors can still happen when a person with dyslexia tries to say something because they really can't see the errors at that point in time, the whole thing could look normal to them. As some of you might know from seeing me chat in things like Discord. Lol.

Here is a little test. Play this video and pause it when the paragraph shows up and try to read it before watching the rest of the video.
Tried reading it and that was tough it was like another language!

I tried hard to remember an NPC with disabillities... All I could think of is that one dwarf in the dragon age that is really REALLY into enchantment, Clem in Warframe
Clem has dual grakatas he says clem a lot but wonder how he could express himself through emoji's hmm

i like the idea of how the thumpr can express the emotions on his face in em8er, dancing/animation is good too maybe he moves good slightly swaying side to side or a stompy tantrum movement when not pleased!
 
Likes: Omnires

EvilKitten

Well-Known Member
Ark Liege
Jul 26, 2016
688
1,314
93
#6
I think that certain disorders that can be overcome get used a fair bit in media for protagonists, shoot I am almost convinced at this point that space military sci fi almost requires a captain with chronic depression and a drinking disorder. Things like dyslexia, depression, anxiety, or PTSD disorders can give them something to overcome and so add to their character development. But how would it work with the more pervasive disorders.

I am curious how you would write someone with multiple personality disorder or paranoia.

I think one of the problems with writing major mental illnesses in any media is that you really need to understand first hand what it does to people and how it affects every aspect of their life in order to create a coherent story around that element. Not many people with say, dementia, are writing characters for video games.
 

Torgue_Joey

Kaiju Slayer
KAIJU 'SPLODER
Jul 27, 2016
1,100
2,591
113
Germany
#8
MY OPINION? ARE YOU SURE?

BEING A DISABLED WITH MENTAL DISORDER PLAYER IS ENOUGH DISABILITY IN THE GAME FOR ME!

LORE WISE, WE ARE NOT ONLY IN AN AWESOME FUTURE
BUT ALSO IN AN ALTERNATVE F*CKED UP TIMELINE!

WOULD THE GATESTRIDER CARE IF YOU HAVE CERTAIN DISABILITY OR DISORDER?
IF YOU CAN SURVIVE HARSH ENVIRONMENT AND RISKY SPACE TRAVEL, THEY CERTAINLY DON'T GIVE A F*CK.
AND THEY CERTAINLY NOT GONNA MAKE IT AS SOME STUPID TREND!
MAYBE CRIPPLES ARE ONLY SUITABLE AS DESK CLERK?

WE ARE IN AN CONSTANT WAR!
PTSD IS A COMMON THING, USE IT TO YOUR ADVANTAGE AND F*CK UP THOSE BLOODY RABBIT!
 
Last edited:

Omnires

Well-Known Member
Aug 14, 2016
464
696
93
#10
I'm sorry, when did we become woke? Creating these characters would reuire extra time and resources and all it would accomplish is virtue signaling. Please just let me play a game and not deal with this garbage.
It is really not that hard. If you can have games where monsters and stuff can have body parts cut off or missing and they still come after you and kill you. Why can't you all do the same for the player character in the creation screen? Why can't players choose to be a person with missing or broken body parts while still keeping them as viable characters?

And as for people with mental disabilities, even without any physical disabilities, all it would take is just for the person or people who write the dialogue and missions for the game just to be mindful of how different people with different mind sets might view and react to things. Something that are already doing anyway, just with a wider scope of types of people to pick from.

As to why it matters. It might not seem like something that is important to people who the default character model is something like themselves (a white or Asian able bodied male). But don't underestimate the power of seeing someone who looks like you doing something heroic on screen. Or seeing someone having to deal with the same problems you do while still doing something great. And it does effect people if the media they watch or game they play all seem to give off the message that you don't exist or matter or worse that people like you are always the bad guys.
 
Likes: Pandagnome

Maven

Kaiju Slayer
Max Kahuna
Jul 26, 2016
181
791
93
#11
The problem I see with being allowed to create a character with disabilities is simply the gameplay. When you put 'handicaps' on your character, literally and figuratively, you essentially are forced to direct the gameplay within certain limits, namely something suitable for the character with said disability. Now take this, and apply it to a game with a freeform character creator and devs effectively have to create multiple gameplay scenarios/modes to account for each disability. This effectively doubles/triples the dev cost, and is not something they are willing to take up.

There are of course games with levels where the character is 'gimped' by some in-game mechanic. But these are few in between and the particular level is built to support a character with his abilities restricted in whatever form is required.

There are also games with a main character that suffers mental illnesses or disorders. Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice is an excellent example. However, the game revolves entirely around that single character, and gameplay is designed around the particular illness she suffers. Thus, games that accommodate such conditions are often story-driven games where you play as that particular character the devs want you to. That is quite different from one where you can create a character of your choosing.

While I do understand your point of view, the sheer restriction that such conditions put on gameplay design is the singular hurdle in being allowed to create such characters.

That said, I'm pretty sure there are devs out there who are smart enough to come up with some interesting mechanic that can accommodate such characters and restrictions. But until then, generic will be the way to go for games with freeform character creators, with disabilities and illnesses limited to story-driven, character-centric games.
 
Last edited:

Omnires

Well-Known Member
Aug 14, 2016
464
696
93
#12
The problem I see with being allowed to create a character with disabilities is simply the gameplay. When you put 'handicaps' on your character, literally and figuratively, you essentially are forced to direct the gameplay within certain limits, namely something suitable for the character with said disability. Now take this, and apply it to a game with a freeform character creator and devs effectively have to create multiple gameplay scenarios/modes to account for each disability. This effectively doubles/triples the dev cost, and is not something they are willing to take up.

There are of course games with levels where the character is 'gimped' by some in-game mechanic. But these are few in between and the particular level is built to support a character with his abilities restricted in whatever form is required.

There are also games with a main character that suffers mental illnesses or disorders. Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice is an excellent example. However, the game revolves entirely around that single character, and gameplay is designed around the particular illness she suffers. Thus, games that accommodate such conditions are often story-driven games where you play as that particular character the devs want you to. That is quite different from one where you can create a character of your choosing.

While I do understand your point of view, the sheer restriction that such conditions put on gameplay design is the singular hurdle in being allowed to create such characters.

That said, I'm pretty sure there are devs out there who are smart enough to come up with some interesting mechanic that can accommodate such characters and restrictions. But until then, generic will be the way to go for games with freeform character creators, with disabilities and illnesses limited to story-driven, character-centric games.
You have some good points but here is where I feel we differ. I don't see it as being something that would change the game nor add to the time and cost of the game if done smartly.

Disability doesn't mean inability. It just means people with them has to do things in a different way to get the same results. For example, there are people with no arms who can write, draw, and drive a car with their feet better than I can with my hands.

One way to do things is with a buff and debuff system. Missing an arm you might not be able to use and the two handed weapons but you're power and dexterity with one handed weapons goes up. And you can still use things like pump action shotguns, but how you pump and loaded such guns are different. (And yes it is possible to effectively use pump action shotguns and rifles only using one hand if you know how. You just need a bit more speed and dexterity.) A deaf character can hear sounds but are also immune to sound based attacks that don't go into the ultrasound and infrasound range because those effect the body directly to damage organs. And the same thing can be done for mental disabilities. Making it harder to do somethings but easier to do other things.

That are ways around the whole cost of development thing, if people just change how they view things and understand them for what they are.
 
Likes: Pandagnome

Maven

Kaiju Slayer
Max Kahuna
Jul 26, 2016
181
791
93
#13
Disability doesn't mean inability. It just means people with them has to do things in a different way to get the same results. For example, there are people with no arms who can write, draw, and drive a car with their feet better than I can with my hands.

One way to do things is with a buff and debuff system. Missing an arm you might not be able to use and the two handed weapons but you're power and dexterity with one handed weapons goes up. And you can still use things like pump action shotguns, but how you pump and loaded such guns are different.
Granted, and I do agree with what you say. However, do understand that games are not real life. Nor is game dev a matter of feeding conditions to an AI that will simply come up with all possible adjustments necessary to accommodate every possible permutation.

While an individual with a disability is more than capable of acquiring skills, and may even end up being more skilled than able-bodied individuals, porting such facets into a game involves time and resources.

Quick example: Making a character with one arm means that all armor in the game will need to have an additional animation where it is to be adjusted for the lack of said arm. Additional code will have to be added to tell the game that one half of a mirrored armor piece, say an arm bracer, is not to be rendered. Further, the attack animations for a person with two arms, and for those with one arm, will be widely different. Using the same animations might come out looking awkward, since they often have to balance their bodies differently. Each and every additional animation, additional rig and additional line of code is extra money and time to be spent developing the game.

Developers have to work on a budget and to a deadline. And investors would rather ship a game that gets the job done while looking good, rather than add features just because such conditions exist in real life. Capital is not unlimited. While there definitely are arguments for adding features to represent a section of society, the cost, in every sense, of adding said features is what holds it back.
 

Wyntyr

Firstclaimer
Jul 26, 2016
2,419
5,289
113
Florida
#14
Perhaps after launch a milestone could be run to see if peeps would donate to fund some physical/mental disabilities and such being added into the game. With a milestone the devs would be able to list what can be added and give a better idea of cost regarding those additions.
 

Zednel

Firstclaimer
Jul 27, 2016
32
73
18
Hungary
#15
Perhaps after launch a milestone could be run to see if peeps would donate to fund some physical/mental disabilities and such being added into the game. With a milestone the devs would be able to list what can be added and give a better idea of cost regarding those additions.
Given that this is a sensitive issue and - although I don't like the fact - has some political undertones, I suggest a vote before we jump to milestones and such
 

Maven

Kaiju Slayer
Max Kahuna
Jul 26, 2016
181
791
93
#16
Perhaps after launch a milestone could be run to see if peeps would donate to fund some physical/mental disabilities and such being added into the game. With a milestone the devs would be able to list what can be added and give a better idea of cost regarding those additions.

This is a slippery slope by any measure. Representation of disabilities in any media, let alone games, is a terribly sensitive issue as @Zednel said. In movies, the directors have the leeway to focus the narrative around a single character. However, when it comes to games, especially one that gives freedom of choice to create your own character, you run the risk of 'offending' one or the other group. If you are to represent one group, you are 'expected' to represent all of them.

Let's say the devs agree to allow creation of a character that has his left arm missing. Rest assured there will be someone out there who will demand they allow creation of a character that has his right arm missing. Pretty soon there will be demands to represent those that are mute, deaf, blind. At that point it no longer is one game but several games/mechanics, each with its own animations, quirks, parameters, that they have to incorporate, to accommodate every single disability that can be thought of. It's almost comical that such an argument should come into play, but that is the society we live in today.

Representing minorities can be done in these games, but reserve that for NPCs. And there is no necessity to force them into the 'villain' role either. The devs have the freedom to create unique characters, each with their own interesting backstory, and make them heroes in the narrative. The more choice you give to the playerbase, with respect to such sensitive topics, the more you leave yourself open to criticism, demand and unnecessary vilification.

Being such a close-knit community, we may look around and say 'Hey, we ain't like that. We will support the devs choices without fuss'. But this isn't a game built for this community alone. And I'm sure we all know what is to be expected once the floodgates are opened.
 
Last edited:

Pandagnome

Kaiju Slayer
Happy Kaiju
Jul 27, 2016
3,960
4,526
113
Island of Tofu
mechadrive.com
#17
If you are to represent one group, you are 'expected' to represent all of them.
it would be fair perhaps as Wyntyr mentioned a future milestone/update

Representing minorities can be done in these games, but reserve that for NPCs. And there is no necessity to force them into the 'villain' role either.
Yes, still think can represent individuals in the appearance customization too

Pretty soon there will be demands to represent those that are mute, deaf, blind.
Ah then accessories/appearance could help

Deaf = Patlabor style antenna's, ear techs, sound wave effect near the ears etc
Mute = Face mask, Stitched mouth, holographic mouth, metal jaw like mgs raiden
Blind = Visor, cyborg eyes, Half helmets like robocop, Blind fold, etc

You could even have battle damaged appearance and so on!

What if we could show it In the customization of appearance e.g. (mainly skins, effects and color changes even sounds)

Pilot 1 = Physical impairment they could have augments cybernetic limbs/eyes etc
This would show how they have adapted with the tech has helped them, also could show an area
where such facility makes these augments thinking of Deux Ex in the lab!

Pilot 2 = mental Issue this be a tough one to show perhaps electric discharge/flames around the head effect, jittering/twitch animation. These wont necessarily show they have mental issue but it gives it a cool look with the effect and animation

With the jittering animation something like this
as a pose for when they are standing perhaps.

Pilot 3 = Race skin colour option for various skin including options for voice pack, and face structure etc

Pilot 4 = With gender what if it didn't have a female or male category and it was just neutral template
then you can add what you want and turn it to however you want it to look hmm

Then i remember Grummz mentioning stylish skins for pilots and to mix and match imagine having a variety of skins to experiment and come up with your stylish version that represents you best!
 
Last edited:

Zednel

Firstclaimer
Jul 27, 2016
32
73
18
Hungary
#18
Deaf = Patlabor style antenna's, ear techs, sound wave effect near the ears etc
Mute = Face mask, Stitched mouth, holographic mouth, metal jaw like mgs raiden
Blind = Visor, cyborg eyes, Half helmets like robocop, Blind fold, etc

Pilot 1 = Physical impairment they could have augments cybernetic limbs/eyes etc
This would show how they have adapted with the tech has helped them, also could show an area
where such facility makes these augments thinking of Deux Ex in the lab!
The idea is good, but I think issues would arise that would be out of our control...

Maybe some people with these conditions would be happy to be represented with artificial limbs and accessories that balance out their condition(s), but its possible that those people who want them to be represented for the sole reason to be represented, would want them to be "true" to their conditions.

If we go with option 1, then one side will say that we don't want characters/npc-s with "true" conditions in the game, boo we are bad people.

If we go with option 2 then it will be additional time/work/money to program these in as Maven said before, and many player would feel that this was forced in - unless we find some very good reason as to why a person with, for example one leg, wouldn't want an artificial limb in this high-tech age.

Pilot 2 = mental Issue this be a tough one to show perhaps electric discharge/flames around the head effect, jittering/twitch animation. These wont necessarily show they have mental issue but it gives it a cool look with the effect and animation
If they have a unique function in the world, than it can work

Pilot 3 = Race skin colour option for various skin including options for voice pack, and face structure etc
This can work no problem

Pilot 4 = With gender what if it didn't have a female or male category and it was just neutral template
then you can add what you want and turn it to however you want it to look hmm
Lets not go down that rabbit hole... Male/Female and worst case add an Unspecified or Neutral option
 

EvilKitten

Well-Known Member
Ark Liege
Jul 26, 2016
688
1,314
93
#19
I think this is becoming a bit bigger than is really feasible, this is a small nitch game with a tiny dev team who are probably years away from even beta. If you wish to roleplay your character a certain way that is fine, and making NPC's who act a certain way or look different is also fine, but I cannot see what is being suggested above ever happening. Just how many blind people are going to be playing Em-8er AND wanting to play as a blind person.

I feel that it might be possible Grummz would be receptive if the scope is smaller and better suited for what the Em-8er dev team is really capable of creating. Stick to a few easily created props that can go onto a standard shaped character and roleplay your situation if you really wish to. I am sure there will be a dedicated RP server for Em-8er when the time comes.
 

Pandagnome

Kaiju Slayer
Happy Kaiju
Jul 27, 2016
3,960
4,526
113
Island of Tofu
mechadrive.com
#20
If we go with option 1, then one side will say that we don't want characters/npc-s with "true" conditions in the game, boo we are bad people.

If we go with option 2 then it will be additional time/work/money to program these in as Maven said before, and many player would feel that this was forced in - unless we find some very good reason as to why a person with, for example one leg, wouldn't want an artificial limb in this high-tech age.
Its one of those things perhaps as you mentioned

I suggest a vote before we jump to milestones and such
Also good point for option 2 a few examples for why someone might not use artificial limb(s) could be

- Is pro human and hates the sight of cybernetics
- Not compatible with current updates from the suit older gen type
- Hacked or overridden by someone so had to be removed before any further issues/corruption spread to the rest of their body

etc etc


I think this is becoming a bit bigger than is really feasible, this is a small nitch game with a tiny dev team who are probably years away from even beta.
Its just discussion and brainstorming its not like everything mentioned is going to happen i'd like to hope with everyone involved and then a final decision made that considers if its worth having certain things for now or a later time ..... shrugs


Just how many blind people are going to be playing Em-8er AND wanting to play as a blind person.
Partially blind perhaps & those who may be colour blind probably.



I feel that it might be possible Grummz would be receptive if the scope is smaller and better suited for what the Em-8er dev team is really capable of creating. Stick to a few easily created props that can go onto a standard shaped character and roleplay your situation if you really wish to. I am sure there will be a dedicated RP server for Em-8er when the time comes.
Like the sound of that :)