UncannyVivek on E3 2016: Part 1

The gaming convention E3 2016 has unveiled exciting new videogames, showcased the innovations in VR (Virtual Reality) technology & highlighting the evolution of the industry relating to cultural and gender diversity in storytelling.


This year VR technology presented a viable innovation in how we can expand video gaming to develop new and exciting experiences. Gaming is a form of escapism, especially for gamers with disabilities so the unparalleled immersion of VR could be the natural evolution of immersive gaming. The VR games revealed at E3 demonstrate how gamers can actually embody the main protagonist (Fallout 4 VR) or a pre-existing character(s) like Batman (Arkham VR), Star Trek (Bridge Crew) & Star Wars (X-wing VR).

Star Wars X-Wing VR captures an aspect of the Star Wars universe that many of us have watched in the films with astonishment and brings us one step closer to realising the dream of being instantaneously transported from the comforts of your living room into an X-Wing cockpit in space.

maxresdefaultThe sense of freedom (As We Soar) and power is inherently what gaming represents, conversely VR is also a perfect platform for horror games by making you literally face your fears (Resident Evil 7 Demo) or experience a descent into madness (Until Dawn: Rush of Blood). VR could be useful as a tool to better understand how people with mental health problems, visual impairments or even animals see life. To me the Fallout 4 VR game missed a trick by not letting you experience life as your much beloved canine friend Dogmeat.

phpywj6pvFinally, the ability of VR to make you forget reality is a fascinating aspect, you are part of the bizarre alien world you have to survive on. Far point offers the most realistic and precise way to control the game through the newly developed PSVR Aim Controller (below). With direct 1 to 1 tracking, you aim in Farpoint just as you would in real life. How you hold and where you point the controller is directly matched in the game so now you can ‘physically’ shoot aliens.


The Negative

The main problem of current VR games as a disabled gamer with limited mobility is seen in games that require movement, aiming or just turning your head. This problem highlights the ableism still in the gaming industry, gaming is designed as enjoyment for all but the cracks in VR show the limitations placed on disabled gamers. As a big Batman fanboy being able to embody him in Arkham VR was something, I wanted to experience but the inaccessibility of VR gaming thwarts me like Joker.


Challenging Cultural Misconceptions of Disability


Disclaimer:  Please note that the opinions in this blog are formed from my personal life experiences

Challenging cultural misconceptions of disability is an important part of life for a disabled person with an Asian background. I have faced various cultural misconceptions regarding Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy & disability in general throughout my 26 years on this Earth.

Before I dig deeper into the misconceptions, I want to give you some background information about myself. I was born in England but my parents were born in Kenya and my grandparents originated from India. I was born with Duchenne MD but only correctly diagnosed at age 9. My parents divorced around that time because Dad did not want to care for a disabled son.

If you prayed harder or did yogic breathing, you can be cured

This misconception seems harmless but with a deteriorating disease like DMD, a cure is impossible. Some people believe that if disabled people try harder somehow they can be cured. Personally facing this problem aged 9 was difficult when a family member insensitively said this after my DMD diagnosis.

You are disabled because you did something wrong in your past life

This is the most soul-destroying misconception because disability is not a curse or punishment as every human being does have unique roles to play on Earth. Mother faced this belief from my Grandmother but she challenged this close-minded belief. The next generation with better education and no language barrier always confront these archaic beliefs. I hope tackling this difficult topic with my life experiences can provide awareness to form realistic cultural concepts of disability.

Asking my Mother or PA ‘Can he talk?’ The opinion that all disabled people must have some kind of learning disability

Ableism: the concept that able-bodied people are better then people with a disability. This concept is not just a cultural issue but also a general one faced by all disabled people. It makes you and your life seem somewhat insignificant; it isn’t appropriate or polite behaviour to assume you can to ask that question to a disabled person. When have you ever heard of a non-disabled person answering that question?

Disabled people should be pitied or seen as a charity cases

This misconception seems harmless at first but when people (usually the older generation) pity you or start crying just looking at you. There is an expected feeling that having a disability must be horrific so nobody could ever enjoy life or should accept that they are less then perfect. As a person living with a disability it is a humiliating experience as you are not born to be treated differently just on the basis of your physical body. 

The opinion that no young person would want to care for a ‘disabled’ person let alone date one

This belief follows on from the idea of disability as a curse. It belittles you by assuming you are a burden or unable to have a ‘normal’ life just because you cannot walk. I do need more assistance to enjoy life then the non-disabled population but there are many caring people out there that do want to become carers. Disabled people do have the right to find love but sex and relationships is a subject rarely spoken about in Asian culture let alone whilst also concerning disability. Personally, I have fostered this ableist belief of not being perfect enough for love since I stopped walking and when my Dad completely ignored any sign of my DMD or apparent imperfections, as I do not live up to his notion of a son. Now I have stopped feeling inadequate for love.

Thank you for reading & please feel free to comment and share your experiences.

The Mentorship Role

Memories are the only method mankind has of time-travel. The days of your youth are deeply embedded in your psyche, revisiting your old haunts as an adult helps to lay to rest a few unsolved issues.

Yesterday (June 7th) I was invited along with my friend David Mayes in a mentor capacity at a workshop held at our old special needs school Ashfield by the East Midlands Care-adviser Yvonne Julien . Attending the workshop were 5 boys aged 15 to 16 with Duchenne MD, the workshop was predominantly focused on gaining independence, future opportunities available after college & empowerment.

I left Ashfield School 7 years ago to attend college; it was a terrifying and confusing time for me to make my first major decision. I was worried that I would be unable to keep up with the college workload & lacked confidence by viewing myself as less intelligent as my able-bodied peers. At this period if I met an older boy with Duchenne who accomplished a lot in his life after college it would have empowered me.

Going back as a mentor was a cathartic experience, I was there as someone I would never imagine I would ever turn into. The next generation are really important as they need to keep on pushing disability awareness & change society. The boys were really receptive and much more confident then I was at that age.

We spoke to them about taking personal responsibility of your Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and not rely heavily on your parents making decisions so that in the future when you start needing care you can confidently articulate your needs. The road to independence is a difficult one, the relationship between my Mum and I has changed from dependence to a friendship. Deciding to be mentally separate from your parents is crucial to build confidence to decide your future.

I introduced them to MDUK and Trailblazers, how being part of a community can help you to not feel alone, discover solutions to problems you face or making your voice heard. I wanted to give the boys a little taster to what is possible in the future. For example, the work experience I did through the MDUK office in London, my blogging, being a co-editor of Muscle Owl and the other opportunities that found me after college.

The talk finished off by reminding the boys to pursue an avenue that they feel passionate about, be it wheelchair sports, singing, acting, writing, video gaming (as David mentioned) or anything else. Personally, the reason I left university was because I was not enjoying it & thought it was the only future option available at the time. Life is something that needs to be enjoyed.

I wish the boys the best luck in life and I’d be intrigued to see which door they choose.