Disability and Video Games: Practices of En-/Disabling Modes of Digital Gaming 

Editors: Beate Ochsner & Markus Spöhrer (University of Konstanz, Germany)

Deadline for Abstracts: 15.04.2021 (300 words)Deadline for papers: 15.09.2021

Please submit your abstracts: markus.spoehrer [at] uni-konstanz.de


Access the full call here.

Concerns with the accessibility and adaptability of digital games, corresponding gaming platforms as well as peripheral devices have been uttered from different perspectives and sources during the last decades. Interestingly, subcultural or amateur DIY-accessibility practices have been documented since the mid-1970s. Counterplaying the arcade game Touch Me (Atari 1974) as a game for blind persons (cf. Kirke, 2018, p. 66; Spöhrer, 2019, p. 91), reconfiguring and adjusting Atari 2600 game controllers to left-handed persons or persons with differently abled bodies (cf. Morgenstern, 1983, p.4), the evaluation of games in terms of accessible use such as done by the Audissey magazine from 1996-2006 (cf. Spöhrer 2021), developing, providing and discussing about amateur audio games for blind persons as in the case of Audiogames.net1 (Spöhrer, 2021) or online guides to subtitles or closed captions tools for Deaf persons (e.g. Baker, 2020) as well as other communities of ‘accessible play’, both profit and non-profit organizations, such as for example AbleGamers2 or the numerous online message boards on the topic.


* The proposed edited book intends to fill this research gap by examining the following, nonexhaustive, questions and topics from an interdisciplinary perspective and with regard to a variety of topics – both from a theoretical perspective or with regard to case studies:

* Gaming and Dis/Ability Studies: How can game studies profit from a disability studies perspective of en-/abling gaming and issues of disability and ableism and vice versa? How can we conceptualize gaming practices and processes in terms of “dismediation” (Mills, Sterne, 2017)? How can (auto-)ethnographical, sociological and media studies’ methodological tools be used to describe such en-/disabling gaming practices?

* How does digital gaming prescribe, translate and configure specific ‘normalizing’ sets of bodily and cultural techniques? In which way are tacit and body knowledge involved in this process and how can these be described as a means of en-/disabling? How can these practices be understood as a means of disobedience? How are power structures generated and reinforced in such processes?

* How do gaming interfaces translate and configure ”ideal bodies” (cf. Parisi, 2017) and which strategies of ‘enabling’ gaming can be used to counteract such ”disabling infrastructures” (cf. Parisi 2017)? (DIY-practices, Adaptive Controllers or the use and construction of individual peripheral devices, subcultures of ‘enabling’ gameplay). How are modes of capitalist or neoliberal ‘normalization’ inscribed in such processes?

* By taking into account the manifold requirements, digital gaming generates: Can digital games and gaming literacy be describe as inherently ‘disabling’? In which way is gaming related to adaption and translation processes that require the players, technologies and gaming systems to adapt to each other in order to enable gaming processes?

* Sensory practices: How are senses addressed, configured, translated or en-/disabled in concrete gaming practices? How can sensory and digital ethnography help to research such practices? How can these practices vary among different systems and sensory output and input devices? (Virtual Reality Systems, Audio Games, haptic games, commercial audiovisual games etc., vibration controllers and vibration vests)  

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