My name is Andrew Monkelban. I was born with Cerebral Palsy, a non-progressive condition that affects the part of the brain that handles the limbs and fine motor functions. This condition has rendered me unable to talk or walk, confining me to a wheelchair. In addition, I only have full use of my right arm, with the dexterity of my left hand probably being about 25% of my right. What caused my CP is unknown to me, because I was adopted from South Korea at 14-months.
Because of my inability to talk, I have always written to communicate, but it wasnt until my sophomore year in high school that I really started focusing on it. It all started when we had a locally-published poet visit our English class. After talking about poetry, he asked the class to write poems so I gave it a shot and to my surprise, he was impressed by mine. With his initial words of encouragement to me, I kept at it and somewhere down the line I began writing for the school newspaper. Depending on what I felt like, I either submitted poetry or a review.
In 2005, I found out over the internet that legendary indie movie studio Troma Entertainment (The Toxic Avenger, Sgt. Kabuki Man N.Y.P.D.) was filming a movie entitled Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead here in Buffalo. Needing something to do, I emailed them and ended up being in the movie (as a rather predominant extra). During filming I became friends with the cast and crew, but have stayed very good friends with one of the female leads, Allyson Sereboff to this day.
Allyson and Ive kept in constant contact, and in 2007, she told me that she had met guys who were filming a documentary on gamers and asked me if I wanted to be in it. I immediately said yes and she put me in touch with the guys at Pure West Films. Later that summer, they came out to my house and filmed me for the documentary which is entitled Second Skin (out now on DVD).
My involvement in the documentary gave me a good look at the fact that while games are very beneficial to disabled persons, there are definitely some improvements that need to be made. So with that in mind, I cracked down and wrote 2 editorials on the subject, both of which were ultimately published, one on Wireds GameLife and the other on The Escapist. The first one was written to let people know that we, disabled gamers, do exist; while the latter was more of a call to arms to developers and companies to help disabled gamers.
In June of 2009, I returned to work with Pure West, writing for their community pop culture blog, PopTen, where I'm now able to combine my passions.
Contributor, Wired, 2008
Contributor, The Escapist, 2009
Columnist, PopTen, 2009 - Present
Buffalo, New York 14207