Types and Definitions

What are the Types of Disabilities and Limiting Conditions?

There are a variety of different cognitive conditions that could limit a person attempting to play a game. The primary categories encountered in gaming are limitations related to cognitive abilities are listed below.

Cognitive disabilities:

Memory loss

  • The inability to retain information can make certain types of games more difficult. An action game with a complex storyline or an adventure game with a complex map can be difficult for people who have memory problems. Providing built in maps or journaling can make the gaming experience more enjoyable.

Attention deficit disorder

  • There is currently a lot of discussion and research going on regarding Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD). Much of this research focuses on understanding the underlying causes or attempting to determine how widespread the problem is.
  • ADD/ADHD is defined as follows:
  • “ADHD is a diagnosis applied to children and adults who consistently display certain characteristic behaviors over a period of time. The most common core features include: distractibility (poor sustained attention to tasks), impulsivity (impaired impulse control and delay of gratification), hyperactivity (excessive activity and physical restlessness).
  • In order to meet diagnostic criteria, these behaviors must be excessive, long-term, and pervasive. The behaviors must appear before age 7, and continue for at least 6 months. A crucial consideration is that the behaviors must create a real handicap in at least two areas of a person’s life, such as school, home, work, or social settings. These criteria set ADHD apart from the “normal” distractibility and impulsive behavior of childhood, or the effects of the hectic and overstressed lifestyle prevalent in our society.”
  • A game that requires prolonged concentration for long periods of may not interest a person with ADD or ADHD. However, games such as first person shooters have the appeal of constant change, immediate feedback, and the ability start and stop whenever the user desires.


  • Dyslexia is considered a learning disability. One definition is “Dyslexia means having difficulty with words in reading, spelling and writing – in spite of having normal intelligence and ability”. Dr J E Cullis, 1992.
  • It is considered a problem with processing information. People with dyslexia will often confuse similar letters (for example “b” and “d”), reverse words (“now” seen as “won”), or transpose words in sentence.
  • Because reading is difficult for them, those with dyslexia may not be interested in a game that provided most of its feedback and instructional information in text.

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