A few people asked me questions about articles that popped up over on Kotaku talking about gamers playing games outside of the normal methods, and I wanted to go into detail a little more about some of them! Accessible gaming can take many forms, extending from specialized equipment to alternative methods of play. The gamers with disabilities within the gaming want to play games just as much as the next person, and will find the way that works best for them. AbleGamers can help them out with accessible technology as well as informing them with what games work best for them, as well!
The first article that I was sent was Patrick Klepek’s article Naturally, Someone Beat Dark Souls With Their Feet. Beating any of the Dark Souls games is a triumph in its own right, and Celesterian Games beating it with his feet is worthy of praise. For some gamers, playing with their feet are their only option. The AbleGamers Fellowship 2016 Winner AJ Ryan is one recent example. AJ games, codes, designs, and every other part of game development with his feet due to being born with arthrogryposis, a condition that gave him weak or missing muscles. Even with this condition, AJ has been dominating all challenge, including gaming. The gamers you know could play with a wide variety of equipment, or maybe use the standard controllers in new or different ways.
The previously mentioned Celesterian Games plays Dark Souls 3 with a standard controller, and he’s not the only one overcoming difficult challenges with standard controllers. Another article from Kotaku focused on the gaming style of Mike “Broly” Begum, a professional gamer who plays Street Fighter IV competitively who also lives with, you guessed it, arthrogryposis. Broly Legs plays with a standard controller, using his mouth to control his main character, Chun Li. There’s other gamers in the fighting community that play with disabilities. Some, like Xavier Quintero, are blind and game competitively in Killer Instinct. Gamers with disabilities may play competitively or they may be your raid buddies in your favorite MMO. Gamers with disabilities are everywhere in the gaming industry.
Not all gamers with disabilities can play with standard controllers, some who game with their feet, like AJ, may use something like the Stinky Board to give themselves more control over a game with their feet. Some gamers may use something like the Adroit Switchblade which they can use any number of different buttons, switches or other devices to help them play. Another piece of tech that some gamers use for accessibility is the Makey Makey, which was shown off last night in another article by Kotaku. Last night, Patricia Hernandez wrote an article about a player using a Makey Makey to play Skyrim with a potato. The Makey Makey works by allowing anything that can generate a small current to act as a button. I demoed the Makey Makey at conventions using Play-Doh and would challenge visitors to our booth to a game of Divekick. It’s exciting to see gamers all across the gaming community using accessible technology to complete their own personal gaming challenges, as well as seeing more and more options of gaming technology being developed to meet the needs of the disability community.
The gaming community has grown, and years ago before I started my time with AbleGamers, these types of stories were uncommon. The technology behind these types of stories were expensive and rare, but you, too, can play games with Makey Makey, a piece of accessible tech, for around $50. Now is an amazing time to start playing video games if your disability has kept you away. The rise in technology and mainstream adaptation has inspired new creations to be made, and past creations to become affordable. Eye tracking PC components that used to be $400 are now mass produced by major PC accessory retailers for $150 each. Thanks to these large, mainstream organizations taking notice of the community of gamers and the technology they use to game every day, everyone is brought up and empowered, gaming together.