Gaming, 'gimping' and my irregular gait

In a recent episode of Good Game I was introduced to a new term. 'Gimping'. Apparently it means to play as a character stripped of skills and abilities. But it also means something else. Something incredibly offensive to myself and many others. Because 'gimp' is an ableist slur.

'Gimp' is a derogatory word used against people with disabilities that affect their walking. 'Gimping' is used to describe the way in which such a person may walk. I often walk with an irregular gait and sometimes limp thanks to ankylosing spondylitis (a form of arthritis). This could, if someone wanted to be an ableist jerk, be described as 'gimping'. To use that particular word to describe limiting a gamer's abilities trivialises the lived experiences of myself and countless others. It tells us that our feelings are unimportant and we are 'other' and 'less than'.

I'll go out on a limb and suggest that a lot of gamers probably don't care about people with disabilities. Lord knows a lot don't care about other marginalised groups. But I like to think, hope even, that we can change that. The fact that Good Game (and others - a quick search of Kotaku Australia yielded three instances, Gamasutra fourteen) uncritically repeated a term like 'gimping' only serves to legitimise its use. There has already been a call for Good Game to apologise. Personally, I'd just like to see an acknowledgement that people with disabilities do actually play videogames and we shouldn't have to put up with language rooted in ableism.

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