Neurodiversity, why does it matter?
Why should we care that the gaming world and industry is neurodiverse?
Working in social care with people with Learning Disabilities and or Autism we saw a large percentage who where avid gamers.
People with a huge passion for digital gaming but we never had any hard figures to back up what we suspected (that people in this demographic played more games than people without neurodiversity) and even today as far as we are aware there are no definitive statistics on the prevalence of gaming among autistic adults or people with learning disabilities but it has been found that “41.4% of children and adolescents with autism spend the majority of their free time playing video games versus 18% of youths in the general population” (Mazurek, Shattuck, Wagner, and Cooper 2013)
The University of Missouri, and Thompson Center (sic) for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders, Missouri conducted a 2013 study asked the parents of 56 boys with ASD, 44 boys with ADHD, and 41 boys with “normal” development, how much time their sons spent playing video games.
It was observed boys with ASD spent significantly longer playing video games ,on average around an hour more per day.
Gaming within this group is something of high importance to them and we feel that more could be done to represent them both within games but also the gaming industry as a whole.
This isn’t to say huge steps haven’t already been taken but we feel the time is right for a centralised and concerted effort to really push the Neurodiverse addenda forward .
It should be automatically considered when designing, developing and marketing games.
Doing this doesn’t only benefit people who identify as having Neurodiverse conditions but also the general population who will see a more realistic representation of the real world within games. The knock on effect will hopefully be giving non-neurodivese people a greater understanding and more empathy with people with many varied Neurodiverse conditions.