Disabled video game characters

There are plenty of video games where superpowers take precedence — where the laws of our world are put aside and characters are endued with amazing talents and abilities. You can also find many games that opt for a more realistic feel, hoping to immerse players in a believable experience.

What you don't find a lot of, however, are games that feature a character with a disability, whether it's a physical ailment or a mental illness. These types of characters are severely underrepresented in games, even though statistics show that 1 in 5 people in the United States have a disability.

That's why we've put together a list to highlight several of the video games that have included a disabled character. You'll find some very well known characters from major game franchises, as well as a few characters who, in spite of their disability, had a major impact on the games they appeared in.

Adam Jensen, Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Adam Jensen's disability comes not necessarily through any sort of condition, but at the hands of a surgical procedure he undergoes at the beginning of Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Jensen is shot in the head while defending Sarif Industries' headquarters and requires extensive medical care in order to survive. But while he's being treated, Sarif takes advantage of language in his contract to cybernetically modify his body. Several of his limbs are removed and replaced with advanced robotics, while the rest of his body is outfitted with computing technology capable of aiding him on his missions.

The result is that Jensen is no longer just a human, but is instead a human-machine hybrid. His body, which might not have survived the shooting and the various other injuries he sustained when attacked, is built mostly of parts that are not his own. And Jensen spends much of the game trying to come to terms with his new condition — one he never asked for.

Kai Brehn, ReCore

Kai Brehn, a character in ReCore's world of Far Eden, finds himself among robots both hostile and friendly. He also finds himself as one of only two surviving humans in the game's early going, after being discovered by lead character Joule and her corebot, Mack. But before he was found, Kai was forced to fend for himself in the game's desert wasteland — and he did so on a single leg.

For reasons that aren't revealed in the game's story, Kai is an amputee. And somewhere in the time between his arrival on Far Eden and the moment he and Joule cross paths, his prosthetic leg becomes damaged. His own corebot, Seth, is too afraid to wander out into the wilderness alone to find parts, and so Kai is forced to make due on the one good leg he has. Fortunately, Joule and Mack volunteer to help search for the parts he needs so he can repair his prosthetic and join them on their quest.

Joker, Mass Effect

Joker, who is voiced by Seth Green, is one of the more entertaining characters in the Mass Effect universe. His wise cracks, sarcasm, and Her-esque affection for his ship's artificial intelligence is endearing — but there's something else you should know about Joker. It has to do with why you're more likely to find him in the pilot's seat than moving around the Normandy, and why Joker made this list.

He suffers from something called Vrolik syndrome, which causes his bones to be extremely brittle.

Joker was born with fractures in his legs, and as an adult, still has a hard time walking around without the use of crutches or braces. According to Mass Effect lore, Joker takes medication for his condition but still experiences pain when moving about. So other than a highly tense moment in Mass Effect 2 when he is forced to travel to the Normandy's AI core, Joker — whose real name is Jeff Moreau — is usually planted firmly in his chair.

Junkrat, Overwatch

Overwatch has a plethora of heroes to choose from in-game, but only one is so wacky in his love for explosives that it actually cost him his own leg. We're talking about Junkrat, a criminal from Down Under who blasted one of his own limbs off in a freak accident involving a homemade explosive.

Junkrat is distinct not just for his crazy hair, which according to lore, has a "burning smell" to it. He also uses a peg leg to replace the aforementioned missing one, and therefore had to adapt to remain competitive with other heroes in the Overwatch world. The peg leg makes him slower than other heroes, so Junkrat makes use of more ranged weapons while fighting. He carries a grenade launcher capable of lobbing explosives around corners and over walls. He also makes use of mines, planting traps for his enemies. And his "ultimate" is a remote-controlled tire that is strapped with explosives, which he can operate from a distance and drive into crowded areas to do maximum damage.

Bently, Sly Cooper

Don't let his adorable appearance fool you: Bently is a turtle with a gritty voice and a bit of a mouth on him. He's also an explosives expert, and handles most of the planning for the missions that Sly Cooper and his gang take part in.

But that's not all. He's also paralyzed, and requires the use of a wheelchair to move around the world he and his Sly Cooper crew exist in.

Bently wasn't always paralyzed. His injuries came at the hands of Clock-La in Sly Cooper 2 after the Clockwerk Jaw fell on him. But he learned how to live with his condition, outfitting his wheelchair with weapons, booster rockets, and even a "pick-pocket arm" capable of stealing from nearby enemies. And in Thieves of Time, players can even attach a "hover pack" to Bently's wheelchair, giving him the ability to float over bad guys and attack them from above. Bently is proof that having a disability doesn't mean you have no ability.

Big Boss, Metal Gear Solid

If you played the more recent release in the Metal Gear franchiseMetal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, you may have wondered why hero/anti-hero Big Boss wears an eye patch in the game. It's because Big Boss suffered a loss of vision in that eye due to an injury that can be traced all the way back to Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.

In Snake Eater, Big Boss — who was known then as Naked Snake — diverted a bullet that was intended for the spy Tatyana. While he managed to save her, he didn't escape the ordeal unscathed. He was on the receiving end of a muzzle burn from the fired shot — a burn that rendered him blind in his right eye. The eyepatch he wore in later Metal Gear titles became such a part of Big Boss's identity that his pet, DD, also wore an eyepatch as a sign of solidarity.

Not that the patch slowed him down any: Big Boss continued to be the best fighter in the world, despite the loss of stereoscopic vision. Until his own two-eyed clones showed up, that is.

Lester Crest, Grand Theft Auto V

Grand Theft Auto V is the best-selling video game of all time as well as the most profitable entertainment product ever. It's a pretty impressive feat for a game that first released in 2013, and while players have found fun in the game's story, open-world adventures, and online component, there's another reason to like GTA V: its inclusion of a handicapped character.

Lester Crest is a central character in the main Grand Theft Auto V campaign, as well as a major part of GTA Online. He's also disabled, using a wheelchair due to a "wasting disease" that affects his mobility. While he's not able to run and gun like some of the other characters in the game, he's still able to stir up trouble, assisting other characters by planning heists and acting as a scout. He's considered a "genius" in the GTA V world, and he has no problem letting the player know it.

Senua, Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice

Senua from Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice suffers from a disability that differs from many of the others on this list. Hers is not a physical disability, but rather, a mental one.

Senua experiences what is called psychosis, which PC Gamer explains "is a condition where a person loses touch with reality, often experiencing hallucinations or delusions." Senua's condition plays a major part in the game, as players — assuming control of Senua — are haunted by the same voices she hears and view the same hallucinations she's viewing.

Extensive research went into Hellblade to ensure the game represented psychosis in a way that accurately depicted it while not adding to the "stigma" of mental illness. The team behind the game interviewed a teen girl who suffers from psychosis and also consulted healthcare professionals to better understand the disorder. The result is a game that dares to tackle a disability not many other games have — one that won a Games for Impact award for its effort.

Taimi, Guild Wars 2

Guild Wars 2 is a massively multiplayer online RPG, so you might expect a highly diverse cast of characters to make an appearance in the game. And they do — along with Humans, you'll find races like the Asura, the Sylvari, the Norn, and the Charr. But Guild Wars 2 went the extra mile when it came to adding a character with a physical disability, which is what makes Taimi such a great addition to the game.

Taimi is an Asura child with a degenerative disease that makes it difficult for her to walk long distances. Because the Asura are gifted in the art of creating golems — large creatures constructed from vegetation and stone — Taimi is able to get around with the assistance of her own golem, Scruffy.

The team behind Guild Wars 2 actively created Taimi — and the backstory involving her condition — so the game had a disabled character. As it turns out, the decision made one player with multiple sclerosis so happy that she "shrieked loud enough to wake the dead."

Dunban, Xenoblade Chronicles

Dunban is a character found in Xenoblade Chronicles, and he's best known for using a mythical sword called the Monado to fight back an invasion of enemy forces in a time before the game's story. Unfortunately, the devastating power of the Monado was also harmful to Dunban, and wielding it for too long caused his right arm to become paralyzed.

The Dunban that players encounter once they enter the world of Xenoblade Chronicles has no use of his right arm. He is still able to carry a weapon — however, he's forced to use it with his left arm. Despite the disability he's forced to cope with, Dunban is a more than capable fighter. He's incredibly quick, and his powerful attacks are great for drawing an enemy's "aggro" (aggression). And as players progress through the story, Dunban once again takes hold of the Monado, wielding it with his left arm to assist his allies in battle.