BioStEAD Project

Biographical Story-Games for Enhancing Awareness of Disability (BioStEAD) – Principal Investigator

There are 13 million people (20% of the population) living with some form of disability in the UK (DWP, 2016), with an ageing population that is only going to increase over the coming years. However, the daily lives of those living with different physical and mental disabilities is not widely understood or appreciated amongst other sectors of the population. This was demonstrated by a study by Scope (2014) into attitudes towards disability that found 67% of the British public feel uncomfortable talking to disabled people, particularly so if the individual has a less visible physical or cognitive disability. Furthermore, the study found that 21% of 18-34 year olds actively avoid talking to disabled individuals.

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The BioStEAD project will offer opportunities for the general public to experience first-hand the daily lives of individuals living with different disabilities through a collection of short (i.e. 1-2 hour), biographical, digital story-games. By utilising the popular and accessible medium of digital games, the project will aid in educating the general public, developing empathy, awareness, and understanding of disability across the population, particularly in sectors that already engage with digital games frequently, such as the 18-34 year olds cited in the Scope study.

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Each story-game will offer an individual, biographically-informed narrative allowing players to engage directly with the lived experiences of people with different disabilities. Narratives will be based on interviews with members of the community and/or via working with appropriate charities. The stories and their game-based delivery will be constructed with the combined expertise of writers and game designers, ensuring the final products are engaging, enjoyable games as well as powerful, affective stories. Working alongside the Quality of Life, Health, and Wellbeing Group at the University of Portsmouth will ensure that the manner in which the disabilities themselves are portrayed are sympathetic and accurate.

The first BioStEAD prototype, Wheel Life, is pictured above. We are currently seeking a second round of funding to progress from the prototype stage.