Friday, October 25, 2019

Cripple Rants: The Cripless Sims

Notes: Video game design is an art form. There is swearing.

The Sims is as a series started on computer in the year 2000. It's almost 20 years old. Millions of people around the world enjoy bringing characters of their own creation to life. But, it falls horrifyingly short for the world's largest minority. 

I am an avid Sims player. I've made people of all ages, colors, genders, etc. I've had white, cis characters climb the career ladder and I've had badass Asian, trans folx find love. There are vampires, witches, ghosts, and aliens in my neighborhoods. However, there are no disabled people. What the fuck?

Of course, they offered an extremely problematic take on mental illness at one point. You could have a Sim (character) that had an "insane trait" which had a straitjacket as an icon. After some pushback, the developers relabeled this "erratic". It's as close as we've ever gotten to representation of disabled, mentally ill, or neurodivergent Sims. 

Some people will say to me, "Everyone in The Sims is the same height, so short or tall people aren't represented. There are no nonbinary Sims." and this is true. To say gimps need representation in The Sims isn't saying other people don't deserve to be represented. It's just... shitty that so many of us can't create people like us in a game with the selling point of making who you want. Why is a purple alien more possible to them than my crippled ass?

Just like in real life, I notice a lot of the public buildings my Sims visit aren't wheelchair accessible. Will the developers have to alter too many buildings? Can they not figure out the physics of a rollator? Is it too hard to program a guide dog? My witch can clone herself, but God forbid she have crutches or need regular appointments with her psychiatrist. 

Not every game needs to exactly reflect our society. But, a simulation game proclaiming we can make the world we want to see leaving us out entirely is a huge oversight. The only other possibility I can think of is the developers are positive no one wants to see cripples in a "perfect world".

Friday, October 18, 2019

Grants and Fellowships (Some Charge Fees)

1.  Australian citizens who live in Australia:
"Arts Access Australia’s new National Leadership Award will recognise and support new and emerging leaders in the arts and disability sector."  One disabled artist (or arts-worker) will receive $10,000 to cover expenses for professional/leadership development.  Find out more by clicking here.  I can't find an application fee requirement.  The deadline is November 4th.

2.  "Launched in April 2017, Awesome Disability is an independent chapter of the Awesome Foundation, a global community that provides micro-grants with no strings attached."  Applications accepted between the first and fifteenth of every month.  Selected groups and individuals with awesome projects can receive $1,000.  No fee to apply.  Click here for the website.  The grant can't be used for utilities, home repairs, rent, etc.

3.  Fellowship for nonfiction writers writing about mental illness (requires a $35 application fee):
"The Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow is offering a fellowship to a writer working on a short or long work of non-fiction focusing on how they (the writer or another) have managed, and continue to manage, their mental illness."  The deadline for 2019 was September 30th, but they plan on bringing it back next year.  Meals and a two-week stay are covered, but it doesn't seem like travel is included (the colony is in Arkansas). Click here for more information.

4.  Application fee (may be waived due to financial hardship):
MacDowell Colony Fellowships are open to artists in many disciplines.  They offer stipends and travel grants to fellows who have financial need.  It's one of the few colonies accessible for artists with physical disabilities.  The next application deadline is January 15th.  The link to their application page is here.

5.  Chicago artists:
3Arts Residency Fellowships "are accessible and open to artists in dance, music, teaching arts, theater, and visual arts."  Any out-of-town residencies for disabled artists will support housing and travel for personal assistants.  Their fellowship recipients were already announced, so check back next year.  They list fellowships for various places locally and abroad.  I'm not sure if there are fees.  Find out more here.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Moving Too Slow

I once read somewhere that a poet will have diminished success if their full-length collection debuts after they turn thirty-five.  I'm thirty-four with a February birthday and hear clocks ticking behind me every few weeks.  The illogical voice in my head whispers:  What if it's over before it's begun?

I know averages can't predict individual outcomes.  Everyone has unique circumstances that defy easy calculation.  Is the "disabled poet average" different than the abled one?  Is the specific age only important to poets with college degrees?

I might be an outlier but, if the majority of poets fall into a certain section, the odds are I will, too.  It's disheartening.  Numbers don't care if you're self-taught because no one could help you.  Judges don't care if you lost years of creativity to illnesses and brain fog.

In the article I read, no one mentioned just how hard of a hit poets take if they don't squeeze out a book before thirty-five.  Is it something that can be offset by another characteristic?  Can starting later actually be a boon no one bothers to leverage or consider?  Is our society's obsession with youth clouding our perceptions?

As a disabled person, I often feel like I'm arriving late to my own life.  There are moments I'll never have that leave an ache inside me.  No one receives everything they want in life, but I'd settle for half instead of a fifth.  I don't want to contemplate what my late entrance as a poet might mean to my career.  Perhaps, it will mean nothing.  All I can do is create... and hope.

Do you ever feel like you're moving too slow?