Gotham Knights Dev Addresses Ableism Accusations Regarding Batgirl
While there were a few questions about Nightwing's Fortnite-esque glider and Red Hood's mysterious new Soul Energy, the gameplay showcase for Gotham Knights was mostly well received. Unfortunately, what caught peoples' eye was the description for Barbara Gordon a.k.a Batgirl, which mentioned that she recovered from her debilitating injuries thanks to "raw willpower and determination.”
This description caused quite a stir, as it perpetuates the "Super Crip" disability trope, in which characters simply train to overcome a disability in a rather heroic, but unrealistic fashion. In this case, Barbara trained to overcome a disability which confined her to a wheelchair, and took up the mantle of Batgirl once again. The description received a lot of backlash earlier this month, which creative director Patrick Redding has now addressed.
Speaking via a Q&A on Discord, Redding answered some fans who asked him about the issue (thanks, Kotaku). He revealed that the team has been listening to the criticism and feedback, and has "worked with the awesome folks at AbleGamers to learn about different types of spinal injuries and the potential for someone to regain mobility."
"As with many of our characters and plot elements, the circumstances around Barbara’s injuries differ in some important ways from how it’s been portrayed in the comics,” Redding continued. “Barbara has been through multiple surgeries followed by a lot of physical therapy and pain management [in Gotham Knights].” He explained that the dev team has now changed the description to read, "With extensive training and rehabilitation, she recovered from her wounds, and returned to active duty as Batgirl.”
Elsewhere in the Q&A, Redding went on to talk about Nightwing's glider, the Flying Trapeze, and Red Hood's never-seen-before Mystical Leap ability. While the glider is still something that we could imagine Nightwing using, Jason Todd's magical jump has caught everyone by surprise.
"In the same way that he’s tried to reinvent himself from anti-hero to hero while retaining his strengths, he discovers he can channel these mystic talents in ways he finds familiar: Through his physicality [and] in how he moves, but also in how he fights and even how he uses his weapons,” explained Redding.
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