Esports for the disabled

Similar to the able-bodied, disabled people love playing video games. All the more, there are para-gamers, who play much better than those with no impairment. This article provides profound insight to the world of paraEsports.

Technologies which help adapt video games

Online games are great because they equate all people. Notwithstanding who or what the person is, regardless his ore her social status or health condition, he or she enjoys the same possibilities in digital world. Moreover, online games provide a great possibility for anyone to join the community of like-minded individuals and find new friends, which is of high importance to the disabled, who live in emerging countries and often lack such possibilities in the real world due to the improper integration into society. Gamers who have health problems with lower extremities, can easily play video games by means of mouse and keyboard, whereas people, who have impairment of upper limbs face difficulties in access to video games.

The issue of creation and development of special joystics for people, who for some reasons have no ability to control ingame process by mouse, is still topical. However, there's progress in solving this problem. Mostly relatives of the disabled people or the disabled themselves take initiative in solving this problem. They try to attract the attention of game developers and gear producers to the issue. One of the associations has even founded a LAN gaming center for the impaired people in England. The center has many devices, which enable gamers with disabilities to enjoy the game. For example, people, who have no possibility to hold mouse, control the game by voice commands, eyes or brows movement. 

UK's charity organization SpecialEffect develops game for the disabled people. They mostly sell the devices to simplify the game process. For example, there are devices to control the game process by means of legs, a tube to blow, and a special joystick for the chin. 

Surely in terms of commerce, the development of such devices might seem unprofitable. However, it can be beneficial for the game industry on the whole, similarly to the development of the special functions for the impaired people in other industries (e.g., vibrating alert and entry of the text by first letters, which initially were developed for the disabled). 
Deaf gamers usually use special subtitles, which provide information about the game. Unfortunately, not all the publishers and developers introduce these features, explaining that there are few disabled gamers. However, an ordinary gamer Brand Rogers, who lost hearing, was once asked about his opinion on the subtitles and other technologies in the game. He said: "All I ever needed was the possibility to turn on/off the subtitles during the dialogues and text messages for game goals. Meanwhile, the voice chat option is useless to us (deaf players)".

Competetitive para-esports

There've been a couple of para-esports tournaments held so far. For example, in 2014 The IeSA 2014 World Championships tournament on League of Legends, StarCraft II and FIFA Online 3 was conducted in Korea. About 200 gamers of 12 countries came to participate in event. One of the first para-esports events was held in 2011 with prize pool of $ 10 000 and following titles: StarCraft II, Warcraft 3: The Frozen Throne and FIFA Online. In 2011 a para-esports event was also held in Siberia (Krasnoyarsk city). 

Matthew 'LookNoHands' Fink

Matthew is a quad amputee, which means he has lost part of all four of his limbs, and he uses a power wheelchair for mobility. He's a StarCraft player, who seeks to play the game on the same level with others. He received Watson Fellowship, which enabled him to travel to Europe (from the US) and further to Asia in pursuance of his dream to become a pro player. On his Facebook page he wrote: "Starcraft is meaningful to me because it is the first time I have ever had a chance to be on equal playing field with able bodied people without the need for major adaptations. Starcraft allows me to do so by rewarding fast thinking, creativity, and ingenuity over physical prowess."
Alexey "White-Ra" Крупник and Matthew 'LookNoHands' Fink


Michael "Handi" Olson

Michael "Handi" Olson has amelia, which means he was born with no limbs. Amelia however doesn't prevent him from playing Counter-Strike professionally. Michael has won many local tournaments in the US. He plays the game by means of a special keyboard and mouse, which has a special sensory surface. He types messages with his head. The pro player became a streamer recently and is now developing his Twitch-channel. Apart from Counter-Strike, he plays Dota 2.


Carlos Vasquez

Mortal Combat professional player Carlos Vasquez is also worth mentioning. He's been a fan of the game series since childhood. At age 10, Carlos was diagnosed glaucoma, which lead to the blindness. Having lost vision, Carlos didn't want to loose his favorite game. "I decided to go back and start paying attention more to my hearing and kind of realizing, 'Hey, this game actually emphasizes every single hit as you play!'", he said in an interview. This is how Carlos began playing, basing on an auditory landscape. Last year he even participated in the global championship for fighting players - Evo 2014. Carlos performed very well and didn't lose a single round to his first 2 rivals.

AuthorEloveana Date12 August 2015, 15:18 Views3737 Comments0
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