One of the spaces which is often criticized for being the least disability friendly is that of LARP spaces. Live Action games do often rely on an amount of physical ability that assumes certain mobility aids aren’t in place, but this is not the case, not even remotely.
That being said, there’s a lot we can do to make LARP games accessible to gamers with disabilities, and the first thing I want to talk about is adaptive devices or equipment used by people with disabilities to assist in their daily lives. Things like wheelchairs, hearing aids, or prosthetics.
Something which I have been normalizing at conference games I help run is that we make an announcement noting the mobility devices and actual adaptive devices being used, so that players don’t take them away or use them as props during gameplay (which actually happens). A player with a disability may not have their character have the same disability – or they might choose to not have a character with a disability at all.
Before we even get into the game, though, we should be asking players what they want. I believe that telling people about adaptive devices is a safety concern, but what the adaptive device is used for should never be revealed without permission.
By making these announcements, we’re normalizing the idea that players with disabilities are in games with able bodied players. When we normalize that, adaptive devices stop being seen as props, because we subconsciously are aware that actual people with disabilities are playing in games with us.
Shifting how we approach adaptive devices in LARP means we create a more welcoming and safe atmosphere for those of us who need those devices. A wheelchair being used by a person who needs it changes the way we book a space for a game.
A blind character being played by a blind player changes the way that everyone in the game treats that disability. It changes from a joke, to a legitimate character trait.
By making our spaces accessible to adaptive devices, it shifts to making our stories accessible to disabled characters. By making that shift, more players get to reflect themselves in a game, and feel welcome exploring news stories.
Accessibility is sometimes a small shift which pushes towards big changes, and this is one I think we can implement to make a big change.