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Fun? Apps, games simulate disabilities

There are dazzling phone apps, Xbox games and computer software that can give users a sense of what it’s like to fly, fire weapons at zombies and aliens, steal cars, and make millions of dollars managing businesses. There are also an increasing number of digital simulations that can give the non-disabled some idea of what it’s like to have a disability.

Some critics wonder if the games and apps give anyone a true sense of life with a disability, any more than “Grand Theft Auto” games give players a sense of what a life of street crime does to a person. 

Some Newark readers might have seen a recent BBC report on a game called Auti-sim, an interactive simulation that derives its name from a play on the word “autism.” Players are overloaded with visual and aural stimulation that attempts to recreate some of what a child on the autism spectrum might experience on a playground.

A woman who runs workshops on autism says the game gives players an appreciation of what sensory overload can be like.

Developers of other games and apps are attempting to recreate other challenges, including Depression Quest. It attempts to give players a virtual life in which positive outcomes are eliminated as possibilities according to the state of their character’s mental health.  

Even a BBC website attempts to put users inside the minds of dyslexic children.

Critics of the attempts to recreate disabilities say the games and simulations give the false impression that brief software interaction gives a player a full understanding of life with a disability.

Software defenders say that most users understand that the games and simulations are simply to give people an impression of a disability, much as computer flight simulation gives a glimpse at what it’s like to be in the pilot’s seat.

For those living with a condition preventing them from working, disability is no game. They seek genuine help in making ends meet by applying for SSDI with the help of a Social Security Disability attorney.

Source: BBC, "Not just a game: Is it right to 'recreate' disability?" Emma Tracey, June 10, 2014

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