Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Overcoming physical handicaps and societal prejudices in Virtual Worlds

Wilde Cunningham is famous in Second Life, a popular virtual world game. He's well liked and respected. The story is quite different in real life.

Wilde Cunningham is actually a group of severely physically disabled people almost all of whom are confined into a wheelchair. Many of them can't use a mouse or a keyboard, so they require some help playing the game. The group takes votes on how to respond to situations presented in the virtual world, and their friend, an employee at the care center they're living, acts on what the majority decides.

They're using the virtual world as a form of therapy, a way to overcome their physical disabilities, but more importantly to communicate with "normal" people without the disabilities and prejudices getting in the way. They're also raising funds by keeping a virtual gift shop.

In real life "normal" people flinch at interacting with the Wildes. Their severe disabilities turn people off quite involuntarily. In Second Life they can walk, fly, talk, flirt and befriend "normal" people without the prejudices coming in between. It is impossible for the Wildes to get that level of interaction with "normal" people outside of virtual worlds.

Please read the four part article on the Wildes written by W. James Au. Also see Live2Give, a collaborative project to help develop an online virtual community for people dealing with cerebral palsy and similar physically disabling conditions.


Stretch27 said...

Great first post! It's nice to see something other than the POV that gaming is bad for societies morals!

Lisa said...

That's great! I'm glad to hear it, and I'm glad you're spreading the word about the positives of gaming. Nicely done!

Anonymous said...

My only two boys are handicap and they play very well. They play all sorts of games which they learn hand and eye coordination and so much more. My oldest is in sixth grade and does second grade work. But he is so smart in so many other areas. I do honestly feel that he learns a great deal from playing games and he is a professional gamer for an 11 year old, and i'm proud of him. Thank you for taking the time toread this. Rita Saldana