I wasn’t born with a chronic illness, or if I was my symptoms were not as prominent or as debilitating as they are today. Because of this, I remember my life before being sick. It took me a few years to accept, and love, my new reality and some days I am still working on that. And while I have admitted that I did not start gaming as much as I do now until I became ill, I still played games. Part of my childhood was replaying Kingdom Hearts over and over, sitting inside on rainy days and trying my hand at the flying missions from the original Spyro trilogy.
So much of growing up and continuing to game, like any other gamers, includes looking back fondly on things from my childhood. However, as much as I love certain games, new and old, they don’t always love me.
Being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease, fibromyalgia, and vestibular migraines meant accepting my body could not do what it used. Everyone experiences that as they grow but it is a shock to the system and realize how much of my 20s I lost because I could not do what the average 20-something could. This also means I cannot play games the same as I used to. Replaying through Kingdom Hearts becomes a lot harder when your joints ache from boss fights or when your hearing goes out and suddenly the subpar subtitles and lack of visual cues become a serious impairment.
When starting up Resident Evil 4 again I kept dying in places I never had an issue with. My shaky hands (I have chronically shaky hands) disrupting my aim coupled with constant quick time events that were impossible for me to perform made the game unplayable. And even though Resident Evil 4 came out in 2005, the series has done little to update its accessibility. Resident Evil 2 Remake has subtitles but not all of the dialogue is subtitled and there are no captions despite the game relying on sound cues to avoid Mr. X. The game does, however, feature assisted aim which makes it playable for me.
As a disabled gamer, it is hard to love franchises that don’t love you back.
As a disabled gamer, it is hard to love franchises that don’t love you back. It is also frustrating to realize that so many people, like myself who are also disabled, cannot play the games I love. They cannot enjoy the heartfelt and moving experiences I have had with various characters, stories, and franchises over the years. I can’t ask old games to suddenly be more accessible, but I can ask new games and even remakes to do better.
Gaming means so much more to me since I became ill. It has always been my outlet for dealing with rage, anxiety, and feelings of worthlessness. I want everyone in the world to be able to love and experience the artistry and beauty of these pieces of media. I want everyone to feel as empowered as I do when I play Tomb Raider. I want everyone to feel as connected as I did when I played Death Stranding. While those games may not be everyone’s cup of tea, the emotions you feel when playing, whatever it is you play, are universal.
I want everyone in the world to be able to love and experience the artistry and beauty of these pieces of media.
Loving gaming is often a one-way street but I hope for my sake and other gamers, that will change soon and the franchises we love will finally love us back.