Module 8: Critical Play and Crip Game Design
The last part of this module returns to a platform analysis. Similar to our analysis of accessibility in games, you will critically interrogate the accessibility of Wikipedia as a platform and the website’s relationship to broader structures of power. Use the following questions to guide your analysis, thinking about the accessibility guidelines and accessible design elements that you have encountered thus far:
- In what ways is Wikipedia accessible? In what ways is it inaccessible?
- Can you access Wikipedia on a range of devices? Do you need high speed internet?
- Can you play the Wikipedia game with a screen reader?
- What skills, abilities, and bodily norms are required to play the Wikipedia game?
- In what ways can Wikipedia be harmful?
- Who can contribute to Wikipedia?
- What is the criteria for being added to Wikipedia (hint: look up ‘notability’ in Wikipedia)?
- What absences can we mark in the Wikipedia archive? Who is not present? Who is overrepresented?
In their analysis of accessibility in game design, Brown and LaRell (2021) observe,
One perplexing trend [in game design]…is that a number of games are adding necessary accessibility options several months after a game’s release, in the form of downloadable software patches.
While players and some developers are becoming increasingly aware of and fighting for inclusive, diverse, and accessible game design, it is clear that this practice is still not the standard for game development. These ‘accessibility fixes’ are often patchwork solutions to appeal to a broader audience rather than a fundamental part of game design. While games for change and critical games are becoming more popular and widely discussed, it is clear that many popular games still convey problematic and discriminatory messaging. This week, we have thought about how we can challenge these norms through critical play and critical game design, and how players can take on a similar role through playing in ways that challenge and disrupt these normative design choices. Having more diverse games in the creation process – having more creators of colour, more LGBTQIA+ and Two-Spirit creators, and more creators with disabilities – can ensure that the critical design method becomes a standard form of game design, rather than something that players have to continually fight for or create themselves.