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"Disabilities and Gaming Environments"
Children are encouraged to start playing sports from a young age as competition help build confidence, social skills and physical ability. For a child with a physical disability, there are few opportunities to play competitive sport, as children are often not strong enough to physically compete or the sport is simply too dangerous, forcing many individuals to begin playing adapted sports with other disabled athletes. Recently, a new solution has emerged that is rarely considered as a source of competitive sporting; video games. For years, computer/console systems have given users the opportunity to take control of computer-generated avatars, the virtual bodies used to interact and manipulate synthetic worlds, and play out excited simulated experiences from the comfort of their own homes. With faster Internet speeds, individuals who play video games are now capable of competing in synthetic worlds with friends across the Internet or on Local Area Networks, leading to the manifestation of competitive leagues like the Cyberathlete Professional League. Online video games, like Counter-Strike, offer youth with disabilities a viable solution to transcend their physical limitations to gain important social skills that most children develop through physically competitive sports, but in a safe and integrated digital environment. This paper considers the possibility of video games as legitimate substitutes for, or complements to, sports currently available to the so-called “disabled” and the benefits of these synthetic experiences.