Submissions open from 2019-08-01 04:00:00 to 2019-09-01 03:59:59
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Neurodiversity in Games Jam!

This is a game jam about representations of neurodiversity in gaming, whether in the players of games, characters in games, game accessibility, or meta on the topic of games. What does this mean?

A Somewhat Long-Winded Explanation of Neurodiversity:

First, for the purposes of this game jam, “neurodiversity” is used to describe both the reality of neurological diversity and the goal of human rights and dignity for people of all neurotypes (types of brains). It refers to the natural existence of a wide range of brains and ways of thinking, as well as the belief that people of all neurotypes deserve acceptance, inclusion, and accommodation, and all have the rights to life, freedom of choice and action, and communication in the form that works best for the individual. Also, people of all neurotypes deserve to live lives free of discrimination, dehumanization, or forced conformity. Proponents of neurodiversity generally believe all of these things, and often take action through activism or education to defend the human rights of people whose neurotypes are targeted in discriminatory ways. 

This isn’t to say that impairments don’t exist across various neurologies. That’s not what neurodiversity advocates are saying. Ultimately, whether a particular way of thinking is good or desired is up to each person with that way of thinking. Neurodiversity doesn’t prescribe any value judgements about neurotypes, but it does open up the possibility for people to consider neurotypes traditionally labeled negative to be neutral or positive for themselves. Generally neurodiversity advocates wish to make information available to dispel harmful stereotypes that lead to material harm and let people know that there are other ways of thinking about the ways we think, ways that don’t lead to self hatred. Neurodiversity advocates also take actions to keep people of marginalized neurotypes from being abused or going unsupported.

Goals for this Jam:

So, this game jam will hopefully do both of these things, to some degree. It’s about including neurodiverse players in tabletop games, video games, and LARP. It’s about representing neurodiverse characters accurately and positively, showing that they have strengths and weaknesses like any other person. It’s about creating accessibility tools for games. It’s about writing about the current state of neurodiversity in games, or even just about your own experiences of being a neurodiverse person who plays games or makes games. All of these are valid ways to participate in the jam. Or come up with something else!

If you’re confused as to what counts as a marginalized neurology/neurotype, here’s a broad list:

  • Neurodevelopmental differences/disabilities, such as autism and ADHD
  • Psychological/psychiatric differences/disabilities (lots of terms are used here, such as “mental illness”, “psychiatrically disabled”, and “Mad”, depending on the person), such as schizophrenia, chronic depression or anxiety, and bipolar
  • Personality disorders, such as Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Learning differences/disabilities such as dyslexia
  • Neurologies altered by trauma, such as PTSD or dissociative disorders/conditions
  • Neurological disorders/conditions that affect cognition, such as multiple sclerosis
  • Neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and ALS
  • Intellectual and developmental differences/disabilities, such as Down’s Syndrome
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Any other difference in brain function that leads to being set apart from the “neurotypical”

Here’s some suggestions for things you could create for this jam, if you need something a little more concrete:

  • A game (tabletop, video game, or LARP) centering neurodivergent experiences
  • Accessibility tools for specific games or that will work for multiple games
  • A supplement for an existing tabletop game
  • A hack of an existing tabletop game
  • A zine or other writing about your experiences as a neurodivergent person playing games or making games
  • Commentary on neurodiversity in existing games or game spaces
  • Or something else that you think is relevant!

Now, due to the sensitive nature of the topic of this jam, let me set some ground rules:

  • Nothing about us without us! Basically, if you aren’t neurodivergent (having an atypical and/or marginalized neurotype), make sure that you include actual neurodivergent people in the creation of your work for this jam. Make sure to center their voices, and avoid going in directions that are counterintuitive to the purpose of the jam. If neurodivergent people express concern about the direction you’re going or some other element of your submission, listen to them and take action as a result of what they say.
  • If your team doesn’t include neurodivergent people as anything other than sensitivity readers or consultants, we ask that you please don’t charge money for your game. If you do this anyway, please don’t submit it to the jam. This jam is about uplifting and supporting neurodivergent people, not about making money off of their voices.
  • This should go without saying, but please don’t submit bigoted content, whether towards neurodivergent people, disabled people, people of color, LGBTQIA+ people, etc.
  • No claiming other people’s work as your own. Or anything illegal. Respect people’s copyright. Fan content and hacks of tabletop games are fine.
  • Feel free to start working on your game whenever or submit a draft or unfinished project and finish it later. No pressure. This isn’t a judged jam and there are no prizes, just the satisfaction of having created something.
  • No trolling or jam spam. 

Here’s some resources you may find useful:

If you want to do this jam as a team, but need help finding team members, check out the Crowdforge page: https://crowdforge.io/jams/Neurodiversity-In-Games-Jam

If you have any other questions or have something you’d like to see added or corrected on the jam page, feel free to email me at metaparadox11 AT gmail DOT com.

- Olivia M. (Host of Ace Jam, Zine Jam, and Otherships Jam)


NOTE: Before anyone gets angry about my inclusion of conditions that cause harm to the brain or the rest of the body, let me disclose that I fit into a lot of these categories myself. I am autistic, have multiple sclerosis, experience chronic anxiety and depression, and have a long history of OCD-like symptoms since childhood. I am neutral to positive on being autistic and negative about multiple sclerosis, depression, anxiety, and OCD. I have Alzheimer’s in my family, and my grandpa recently died from it. None of these things change my support for neurodiversity, because people of all different neurotypes deserve to have their human rights and be treated with dignity and respect, which is what the neurodiversity movement is about. I can desire accommodations and support for all people who need them and value the lives of people with all neurotypes and still acknowledge impairments.

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An introspective, one-player, ttrpg, about neurodivergence
An unapologetically queer and neurodivergent magical girl (and guy, and enby, etc.) ttrpg