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?
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.
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!
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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