Originally, Gotham Knights’ version of Barbara Gordon AKA Batgirl recovered from an injury that put her in a wheelchair after “her father’s death spurred her to train and recover from her wounds,” according to her character description.
This was met with concern by many, who said that the trope of a disabled person overcoming their disability via determination was both misguided and offensive.
The development team has taken this criticism on board, as creative director Patrick Redding said in a recent Q&A (via Eurogamer) that the studio worked with the AbleGamers charity 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,” said Redding. “Barbara has been through multiple surgeries followed by a lot of physical therapy and pain management [in Gotham Knights].”
Getting to advise great game devs like @WBGamesMTL on huge IPs like the Batman universe is stuff young, disabled Steve would have never believed
— Steven Spohn (Spawn) (@stevenspohn) May 27, 2022
Batgirl’s new character biography on the game’s website now says she underwent “extensive training and rehabilitation” to recover from her injuries. Batgirl’s ongoing rehabilitation work will be seen throughout the game, as she’ll be doing stretches and exercises in the Belfry, and have a back brace integrated into her attire.
AbleGamers’ own Steven Spohn assisted with the changes to Batgirl’s backstory, and said in a tweet: “Disability representation is important. Including people with disabilities in the process of writing these characters is important.”