Ableism in the Gaming World.

Monday 12 February 2018

I've done a lot of reading into gaming guidelines and disability this year and have come across a vast variety of sites that make and provide gaming software and accessories to make gaming more accessible for those with disabilities, when I used to write for Liability Magazine I did a piece on this but I wanted to address it on my blog as I have seen a lot of people moaning about people using a keyboard or a controller when they game and I'm sick of it. People have their own preferences and there is no need to shit on others for what they prefer and maybe take those who aren't able to game due to their disability and lack of accessibility into consideration. There are game accessibility guidelines games need to follow and even though they are accessible to an extent getting hold of controllers that can make gaming furthermore accessible can be expensive and require funding.

Just because it doesn't affect you doesn't mean you shouldn't care, this past year I have learnt a lot whilst looking into accessibility in gaming and I have come across a lot of ignorance in terms of adaptions for people to be able to play games,  I have terrible issues with my hands at times, they shake and have pins and needles, it makes it very difficult for me to use a controller because of this so I wait until the shaking and pins and needles stop so that I can play. Now imagine not being able to hold a controller properly at all because you can't reach or touch the buttons or even hold a controller, that is the reality for gamers who want to play games but don't have access to the right tools in order to play a game.

My friend Alice pointed me in the direction of a video with a little boy named Finlay who the BA helped with being able to play FIFA, something he has always wanted to do but couldn't due to not being able to hold a gaming controller. His mum wrote to BA to explain this and what they did for him was incredible. As well as some other treats, they took Finlay to see the SpecialEffects team in London and let him try out an adapted gaming controller to see which kind of controller would be best for his needs and made him one, no this isn't a story about inspiration, this is a story about a little boy who just wants to play a video game with his friends but once again is unable to due to a gaming controller not meeting his needs. I've said it before, it can be very expensive to be able to get an adapted controller but it's not impossible, the gaming industry has a window wide open to help develop accessible controllers like the one Finlay has been using but haven't.

Technology is vastly and quickly developing but disabled gamers are relying on charities to develop accessible gaming equipment rather than the gaming world embracing it, having these charities are life-changing for disabled gamers and without them, a lot of people would go without experiencing what abled players experience. The team at SpecialEffect do such a fantastic job and rely on donations and don't charge to help those who need help, but there are other places that charge to make a customised accessible gaming controller such as One Switch who are on the more affordable side of accessible gaming accessories.

One of the adapted controllers SpecialEffect provide. *Image from SpecialEffect*

Accessibility in gaming needs to be taken more seriously, I was so disappointed to read a review about the Nintendo Switch not being accessible enough for disabled gamers to use to their full potential and how small the joy-cons are for them to be able to hold and use. On top of this, a discussion on Twitter took place not too long ago about games having an easy mode due to the announcement that Dark Souls has been remastered. There were a mixture of both abled and disabled people both saying an easy mode isn't needed because I don't need a mode in order to make it easier for me to gaming, they don't seem to acknowledge that there are people who are both abled and disabled who will need to use an easy mode in order to help the game and having one is a form of making a game a little more accessible for people. But alas one person said that when a game doesn't have an easy mode it that means it's an achievement and you're completing a game that didn't give you an option of easy mode. Personally, this is selfish to say because the person in question is telling a disabled gamer they are wrong about needing an easy mode and that it IS ableism.

More recently the game Dragon Ball FighterZ was released, the beta for the game had a lot of issues but since the initial realise of the game I have heard a lot of praise such as the fact that it is very accessible to disabled gamers, by this I mean you're able to attach a joystick to the console and use that to game with rather than a gaming controller, as well as being able to press a few simple buttons. This is a welcomed adaption in the gaming world as it shows how thought out the game was as a whole and shows they took their disabled audience into consideration. I would love to see more developers follow suit but I also understand not all games will be able to be so simple to change and make accessible but by making an easy mode for a game and making a game or console compatible with an adapted controller will make a world of difference. Next time you see a game that has an easy mode maybe take it into consideration that whilst you may not use it, other people who find gaming harder than you will, ableism in all aspects of life needs to stop and it's clear the gaming world can be very ableist. 


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