I was playing Blackout Duos with one of my friends the other day. We were having a good time going through the map (even without finding any armor WHATSOEVER!!!! ARRRRRGH!!!). As we were advancing towards the border of the first circle I said I could hear an enemy vehicle coming from the left side of our advance. I expected him to say that he heard it as well. Only, he didn’t hear it at all.
I learned at that moment that one of my gaming friends was deaf in his left ear and it didn’t make me think any less of him – but it did change our tactics for the rest of the match and from that point forward. I didn’t really make a big deal about it, but I did suggest that I could take the left side of our tiny formation at that point. He agreed that it would be a good idea and we moved on – it was that simple.
I haven’t been able to shake that experience over the last few days. As a former teacher I had to take into account all sorts of learning disabilities and different general learning styles. One of the biggest aspects of allowing all students the same opportunities to learn in a classroom is access above all other things (this also goes hand-in-hand with what those in education call full-inclusion). If you went to public school during the late 1980’s and throughout the 1990’s you might remember a lot of classmates being pulled from class in order to get assistance with their schoolwork in any number of subjects. They might have had dyslexia or some other issue that simply meant they needed extra help to stay with the class or at least accomplish the same requirements of others. I never liked the idea of removing students from the classroom when I was a student and I certainly didn’t like it as a teacher. While there are some aspects that might require occasional departures from the class, most students with disabilities want to be with their classmates. This is the same case with gaming… except, there isn’t an opportunity for those with disabilities to seek access to games where they aren’t at what we could consider a competitive disadvantage.
That’s where our assumptions still get us in trouble. The idea that someone needs special treatment in order to succeed in gaming is the complete opposite of what needs to happen. How you treat your fellow gamer has nothing to do with their mental or physical capabilities. You treat them like any other friend or family member. The one aspect you might start demanding is for developers (both hardware and software) to consider making changes and modifications to controllers, sound mixing, and other aspects that move everyone closer to full-inclusion.
Microsoft has a great commercial that focuses on access being something that allows ALL gamers to play the same games and support each other.
The other reason every gamer should be demanding changes and modifications to games, hardware, and peripherals (controllers, etc.) is because it will not only open the games we love to play to those with disabilities, but it will continue to drive further innovation in ways we might not even consider. We continue to see so many amazing changes in technology at a pace that is difficult to grasp – it’s only a matter of time before we will be able to play games with our friends that can’t grasp a controller in the first place. Actually, nevermind… there are already people that are finding a way to wreck on Blackout without actually being able to hold the controller.
Don’t forget the value of opening your mind a little bit. You might actually like what happens when you come to better understand the needs of others.
Here are a couple websites for you to check out if you want to dive a bit deeper into helping fellow gamers.
Able Gamers –
People with disabilities wants the same thing that all gamers want, to have fun with their friends, and family. There are so many challenges that come with living with a disability, social isolation, is one of them. Video games are unique in that we ALL use them to excape our days, and join our friends, and total strangers in a quest to win. That is where AbleGamers comes in.https://ablegamers.org/
Founded in 2015, Stack Up brings both veterans and civilian supporters together through a shared love of video gaming through our primary programs: The Stacks, Supply Crates, Air Assaults and the Stack Up Overwatch Program [StOP].https://stackup.org/