Microsoft has recently announced that there will be a wheelchair options when customising your avatar, why is this a good idea? The avatars that stand up don't really represent those gamers who are wheelchair users, I personally think it's a wonderful idea that a wheelchair user can represent themselves in the gaming industry through their avatar. I get that people are worried that they will be trolled, it baffles me why anyone would troll someone who is disabled or a wheelchair user. Originally this idea started out on twitter when a group of people wanted to start a petition so that wheelchair inspired avatars were added for Xbox, the head of Xbox (Phil Spencer) saw this and addressed it stating "no petition is needed, we hear you. This is something that we've already looked at, not far off". The fact that he addressed this so quickly and that they already had this in the works (so Phil said) puts a giant smile on my face.
I understand that a lot of people couldn't care less about these Avatars and using a wheelchair in avatars means nothing to them, but wouldn't you love to have an accurate representation of yourself? I know I would! I hope that these wheelchairs they're including do come in a variety of different kinds of models as not every wheelchair users use a manual wheelchair. This is just one less thing that wheelchair users don't have to fight for so they're represented in the gaming world. Since this announcement was released however I have seen some very narrow-minded and nasty comments surrounding wheelchair users, one of which saying that a wheelchair user wouldn't want this as they use gaming as a way to forget their disability or why they're in a wheelchair. An able bodied person wrote this comment, I find it wrong that people who have no idea what others have faced or gone through would speak for them, I know so many different wheelchair users who hold no ill will about being in one, they don't feel it's the end of the road and nor do they use gaming as a way to escape their illness/disability. Another saying that this is just begging people to get trolled, excuse me for swearing but this is bullshit! Why would something that some use on a daily basis be a reason to be trolled?!?! I really wanted to write about this seeing as these wheelchair customizations are due to be released this month and I'm so excited for those who have been eagerly awaiting for this to happen!
As a gamer, I have had a number of different experiences with trolls, normally those who are angry that I killed them in a game or those set on making a point that girls should be in the kitchen. I normally report and block those people and hope that Microsoft or Sony do something about their behaviour. I think nothing more of it because they don't know me nor are they making an impact on my life. I've always wanted to know what people gain from sending a person abuse online or trying to put them down when all they're trying to do is enjoy themselves and play a game. Is trolling really worth it? You might have worked hard to get those trophies and achievements, I use to be obsessed with trying to collect PlayStation trophies and if I ever got banned for anything I would be gutted. But it's not just about what you've achieved online, it's also about being respectable.
People tend to take gaming very seriously and get very wound up over being killed in a game, game rage is real and it can be pretty scary. It's not hard to refrain from sending abuse, could you imagine if I send abuse to every single person who killed me in a game? That's a lot of time and effort wasted on something that really doesn't matter, I play Destiny a lot on PS4 and I'm happy to say I've only had about 4 nasty messages since playing it and I've been playing it since day one. Lucky for me the Destiny community can be wonderful, but that's not to say that there aren't players who expect you to be the best player in the world in order play online with them, or that they won't start on you just because you're a girl. If you're a person that thinks it's acceptable to troll someone based on a disability, race, gender etc you should probably re-evaluate your life and your way of thinking.
So please, if you do come across someone whose avatar is using a wheelchair, don't troll them there isn't any need for it. Game and be respectable and welcoming community member!
Elle May x