Invisible Illness by Gemma Mahadeo
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Initially, I wanted to set this up as an installation room, but after 2020 and getting used to doing so much online (which disabled folks do already), I thought this might be an opportunity to get abled folks to really understand what it’s like for disabled and chronically ill people, surviving without pandemic conditions. I particularly wanted to demonstrate how difficult even the most ‘basic’ (a relative term) tasks could feel like going on a 3 hour hike. I chose to present this using Twine as I’ve experimented with it before, and, with the assumption that one has access to an internet connection and a computer, it’s more accessible than my initial idea of a physical installation room. I hope to invite empathy from the abled audience who plays this, as well as to introduce them to an experience which is familiar to me, but possibly confronting and out of the comfort zone for those who have no idea what a life with these experiences might entail. I value collaboration and inclusivity, and that is how I view the person who interacts with this game – death of the author and all that. It is also a statement to all of us who may not have accessibility issues and do not look ‘stereotypically’ disabled. We have needs that we want met too, and genuine understanding and a willingness to learn our narratives, and our lives. Most importantly, the player should stop if they feel that it may affect their mental health: the compassion I try to extend to those who might find this game difficult is the compassion I want for the invisibly ill community.
Gemma Mahadeo came to Australia in 1987 from the UK. They are a writer and occasional musician, and have been published in national print and online journals and magazines. They are also a founding member of The Disabled QBIPOC Collective. You can catch them on Twitter (@snarkattack), Instagram (@eatdrinkstagger), and find out more about their work on eatdrinkstagger.com