How Games Help People with Disabilities Featuring Hawken Miller

by Brandon Pham
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“Proportionately, representation isn’t where it should be, but you have shows with characters that have cerebral palsy and people in wheelchairs are now being represented. This gives a lot more press about the disease and  certain groups, and I hope to see more of that in the future.” -Hawken Miller

Hawken Miller is a journalist, streamer, and pro gamer. As a young kid, he was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), a genetic disorder that results in progressive muscle weakness – most boys living with DMD do not survive beyond their mid-twenties, and those that do are typically in a wheelchair by age 12 and may experience social isolation. Over the past decade, video gaming has become a favored past time and he has discovered a career from it.

The year 2020 is officially in the history books for many things, but the push for diversity was definitely a chief objective for those working in the game industry. Overall, games are becoming more inclusive and 2021 is shaping up to continuing the trend. There’s an impressive lineup of AAA games that are starring POCs (people of color) like Deathloop and Farcy 6. With a healthy slew of games starring women: Horizon:Forbidden West, Bayonetta 3, Chorus, and Returnal.

In 2020, the indie devs remained to be the best at tackling diversity. Raji: An Ancient Epic is a game developed by Nodding Heads Games based in Pune, India and tells the story of a girl’s quest to find her kidnapped brother and how the Hindu gods aid in her search. While most can agree, having representation matters and helps enriches the story being told as long as it serves the purpose of the fiction. I understand, how there could be some resistance about this initiative out of fear of ‘being forceful.’ However, I believe that the truth can be examined by the results, and with the games listed above, I have enjoyed and am looking forward to playing through these games without being taken out of the experience.

Topics discussed in this episode:
0:00 About Hawken Miler
7:00 The push for diversity
9:10 How representation helps tell more stories
13:42 The dangers of online reliability
16:32 The streaming community growth
19:09 Isolation factor of VR games and Twitch streaming
22:59 The old business model of making games aren’t working
25:47 Journalism background and its place in the industry
27:53 The transparency in the movie business versus game business
35:24 The division of groups within the game industry
42:08 The balancing of using social media
45:27 Responsiblity of the game industry to gamers
55:00 How to balance streaming to make progress
56:29 Shout out

SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE

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