don’t get too close, it’s dark inside

I sometimes find myself reflecting on the past. It’s dangerous, I know. While there isn’t anything I can do about the past, that doesn’t change the fact that the past shaped my present. It’s difficult – I struggle to come to terms with the aspects of my life I had no control of. And I think what I struggle with the most is those who were supposed to be my protectors instead became my perpetrators.

And so, I take steps to protect myself. I build a prison around myself where I am both the inmate and the jailkeeper. I avoid situations that will remind me of the pain, and I take great lengths to make sure I stay safe. I worry about letting people too close and getting hurt as a result.

There’s a lyric from an Imagine Dragons song that I feel sums things up quite well. “Don’t get too close, it’s dark inside. It’s where my demons hide.” My demons hide, and my demons sometimes feel like they take control. It feels like I’m trapped, like I’m stuck, like there’s no other option than living here with my demons in the hellscape I’ve created to protect myself.

I know there are better options, and I know there is healing. And I’ve been taking steps to better myself – I’m on medication, I’m in therapy. But it doesn’t change the fact that the now is hard, and it’s so important to acknowledge that.

Thoughts on Cyberpunk 2077

I have been living on this planet for over three decades now. And honestly, I have been gaming for a large part of them. As a disabled person, this has always been a bit of a struggle. Accessibility features haven’t always been prominent in games, although with the advent of the category in the game awards, I am hopeful for the future of video games. There are also features in many games that appear as aesthetic that function as accessibility features, but that’s another post for another day.

Like so many folks, I was stoked for Cyberpunk 2077. And I would be lying if I said I didn’t cry when I realized I couldn’t play it. This is a major video game release. This was a highly hyped game. And it’s a game I can never watch streamed. My copy is currently in the process of being returned. I understand that this game means a lot to so many people. But there will be other games. There will be other games that people can be excited for and invest themself into. There won’t be replacements for the people hurt by this game.

It’s no surprise that the game has flashing lights. It is appalling that there was originally not an adequate warning. It’s even more appalling that this is the same sequence used to induce seizures in a medical setting. Seizures kill. Status Epilepticus and SUDEP are very real dangers that my friends with epilepsy face. I know the game had warnings added. There is still zero excuse for this to be happening. There is zero excuses to be thrown into these scenarios with no way to turn off the features. You can also have a seizure without ever having one before.

Games have let me turn off camera shake (which is a nausea and migraine trigger for me). Games have let me modify flashing lights before. But, this is game isn’t about me. This game isn’t about something that makes me sick. This game is a danger to so many people I love. I deeply appreciate all the folks speaking out against this game. It means a lot to me how many streamers are avoiding streaming this game.

I had hopes for this game. I was excited for this game. But I won’t be playing it. Because there will be so many other games I can enjoy. There will not be other friends to replace those hurt by this game.

My Own Personal Filter

We all have filters that impact how we view the world. No two people view the universe the same. It’s what makes us unique and beautiful as human beings. These filters explain why we act the way we do, and why we perceive things the way we do. For me, one of my filters is autism. Autism is the very way I view the world and the very way I interact with people.

I struggle with social cues. I struggle with my words at times. I struggle with sensory issues. I can’t process these things with a neurotypical filter, and so I have to make adaptations in order to function in the world. I stim with my hands in order to regulate myself. I rock or sway in order to help the too much become less much.

I have learned how to cope with my filter over the years. It doesn’t make it any easier, but it does make coping easier. There isn’t a me without the filter, there’s just a me who has learned how to adapt.

Autism, Accessibility, and Difficulty Settings

I am autistic. It’s my own filter for the world. It taints my interactions. Everything that I do is a part of being autistic. Even the way I play video games is impacted by being autistic. Something I don’t think many people realize is that many video game settings also function as accessibility settings for those of us who need them.

One good example is difficulty settings. I enjoy playing video games on a wide variety of difficulties. But sometimes I like playing on the easier difficulties for my first playthrough so I can learn the controls of the game and enjoy the story. I then raise the difficulty for future playthroughs if I’m seeking achievements.

I find it frustrating when games penalize you for lower difficulty settings. I also dislike when video games use demeaning terms for lower difficulty levels. There’s nothing wrong with needing to play a game at a simpler setting if that’s how you enjoy it. Everyone deserves to play games in the way they find most accessible and in the way that is most enjoyable for them.