There is more of an intersect between disabilities and gaming than one might believe. Many people play games to cope with their disabilities. Consoles such as the Nintendo Wii and Wii U have been used in physical therapy to rehabilitate those with injuries. However, there are still questions at the end of the day: what exactly are gamers and game companies doing to help those with disabilities?
Advocacy group AbleGamers and Twitch have partnered up to highlight disabled gamers as they stream video games, hoping to bridge the gap between the disabled community and the gaming community. One of their gamers, HalfCoordinated, has hemiparesis. It means that the right side of his body is severely weak. However, disability has not stopped him from playing video games (and playing them very well; HalfCoordinated is a speedrunner).
“People here are highlighting how they game and how well they game. What AbleGamers is doing is attempting to integrate gamers with disabilities into the video game community—Twitch is a huge part of that and recognizes that these gamers need to be supported,”
-Steve Spohn, Chief Operating Officer (COO) at AbleGamers.
One disability that Twitch has specifically addressed are gamers who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. Twitch is testing closed captioning for streams, which will help deaf and hard-of-hearing gamers follow their favorite streamers and interact with them as well. “For big streams like E3, a lot of a deaf gamers feel left out,” Spohn added.
Disabilities aren’t always physically manifested. There are also gamers with mental disabilities, such as depression, anxiety, and more. While gaming has allowed people with mental conditions to cope, online gaming in recent years has brought those with both physical and mental disabilities to the forefront, and the gaming community has taken notice. Previously, we talked about Pokemon GO having a positive effect on mental health, and also reviewed Max: An Autistic Journey, a game where you simulate the experiences of someone with autism. Twitch highlighting disabled gamers will raise awareness of (and give hope to) those with disabilities who hope to stream and bring the disabled community closer to their favorite streamers.