(Via Disability Studies, Temple U):
Penny L. Richards, scholar with UCLA's Center for the Study of Women and historian of disability and special education (among other things) asks about the game Raving Rabbids: TV Party (emphasis and bold in the original):
Crazy, wacky, raving, and rabid too… which all apparently mean screaming with wide open mouths and unfocused eyes, causing havoc, chaos, destruction? "Get ready for you and all your friends to go insane." Lovely.
While we don't consciously associate words like "crazy" or "insane" with actual mental illnesses (or criminal law), that's because we use them so often in this casual yet disparaging way. I know I didn't consciously connect mental illness with the Rabbids until Richards pointed it out, despite seeing ads and game boxes featuring them for a couple of years. They become shorthand for everything from "violent" to "creepy" to "silly," as they are here. Associating silliness with mental illness is nothing new—remember the Animaniacs cartoon?.
Why are Rayman's lepine enemies "rabid"? Why not "goofy" or "mischievous"? Around this time last year, the executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Mike Fitzpatrick spoke out against Rockstar's game Manhunt 2, citing its "irresponsible, stereotyped portrayal of people with mental illnesses." While "crazy" bunnies in an E-rated game may seem far removed from "crazy" killers in a game made for adults, they're really two sides of the same coin. Both associate being "crazy" with chaotic malice toward those who aren't mentally ill. What the folks at Ubisoft and Rockstar have done—possibly unconsciously—is frame mental illness as something that harms so-called "normal" people (and rabbits).
But then a friend introduced her to the seedy underworld of the Mario brothers and she spent her saved-up birthday and Christmas money to buy a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). Her mom didn't like the Nintendo at first, but The Legend of Zelda changed her mind. (When Tera got Zelda II: The Adventure of Link one Christmas, she suspected it was as much for her mother as for her).
Though she graduated from Agnes Scott College in 2002 and recently learned how to find the movie theater restroom by herself, Tera still loves video games. Far from being a brain-rotting waste of time, they've helped her practice spatial skills and discover new passions. Her love of games like Kid Icarus and The Battle of Olympus led to a degree in Classical Languages and Literatures. She thinks games have a place in discussions on disability and other cultural issues, and is excited to work with the like-minded staff at GameCritics.com.