Taking ownership of gaming and disability

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Gaming among young people with disabilities is often understood within a habilitation frame, as if video and computer games primarily should help to exercise and ‘improve’. Little is known about how these games are used within a private frame, and how young people with disabilities operate their gaming as concrete persons rather than as treatment-receiving clients. Through the use of stories, descriptions, and demonstrations from Swedish youth and young adults with disabilities (muscle diseases, cerebral palsy, and Asperger’s syndrome), we explore these gamers’ practical maneuvers, verbal accounts, and biographical-narrative concerns in relation to digital games. As they strive to bypass or overcome digital inaccessibility, various challenges find their way into their gaming practices, not only to complicate, distract, or disturb them but also to give them extra meaning. Gamer–game identifications turn multifaceted, with disabilities serving as paths both around and into the games’ ‘magical circles’. We suggest partly new concepts – beyond a habilitation frame – to capture how young people struggle to take ownership of gaming and disability: engrossment maintenance, vicarious gamers and biographical as well as situational refuge.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
  • Ethnology


  • Disability, youth, video and computer games, accessibility, engrossment, identity, biographical and situational refuge
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1143-1160
JournalJournal of Youth Studies
Issue number9
Early online date2017 Apr 10
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Oct 21
Publication categoryResearch