Being a disabled player - Games can change the world!

2년 전

What do the games give us? Experiences in fantastic worlds? The joy of competing with other people? Or maybe stories that many books and films wouldn't be ashamed of? Games are a wonderful medium that allows you to sink much deeper into the presented world than other cultural carriers. This is because of their great interactivity. We do not passively observe the hero's actions, we are the hero and the decisions he makes are our decisions. This is a powerful narrative and I think everyone remembers the feeling of bombing civilians in “Spec Ops: The Line” or the joy of winning with Ornstein and Smough in “Dark Soul”. Games allow you to get away from reality. A sometimes difficult reality in which tragic events took place.



I remember a little over a decade ago I heard the story of Mirosław Pocielej, a player of "OGame", nicknamed Bachus. Bacchus was an alliance-valued strategist. He devoted a lot of time to playing and achieved very good results. One day he announced that he was withdrawing from the game. The whole alliance wondered where this decision came from. It was known that 23-year-old Bacchus was paralyzed. Since he was 16 years old, he has been in a wheelchair. For him, the world was limited to his small village, and "OGame" was a kind of window on the world, a means to make friends and feel needed. It turned out that Mirosław would no longer be able to use a wheelchair. His health deteriorated very much around 2007, the only solution was a bed. Miroslaw had no money for a laptop and the state refused to help him. However, where the regulations failed, people helped. A colleague from the alliance, Grzegorz, a 55-year-old military pensioner, came to Bacchus. He helped organize a laptop fundraiser that allowed Bacchus to continue playing, and then he started a help machine that ended up with a fundraiser for an operation that until now had been considered impossible. The operation ended happily and Miroslaw can use the wheelchair again. This story shows how strong the gaming relationships can be. "OGame" is only a simple browser game, but for Mirosław it was practically the whole world, in which he could realize what he had no chance for in the real world. It was 2007. Today, games offer much more opportunities. [1] [2]


Computer games are a very attractive form of spending time for people with disabilities. Apart from the entertainment aspect, they also satisfy social and communication needs. They allow people who were previously locked in four walls, somewhere outside the community life, to become active. The biggest problem, however, is steering. It is usually adapted to a player who has good eyesight, hearing and both hands. For this reason, wheelchair users are in a relatively best position. Problems arise when you miss one of these organs. Hearing is essential in many competitive games such as “CS:GO”, and deformation or lack of a hand is a major obstacle to controlling the pad or mouse. Eyesight, on the other hand, is such a key sense that a separate type of audio games had to be developed, targeted at blind people.



Games such as “Mortal Kombat” or “Abe's Odyssey”, which can be played successfully by blind people, due to the very good sound of these games, deserve a special mention. An example of a game designed for the blind is “Shadow of Doom”, a completely sound shooter that requires good hearing. [3]

Research conducted in 2011 in the families of disabled people showed that computer games are a popular form of entertainment for their children. 49.7% of respondents (804 persons) said that disabled members of their families use computers and 78% of them are players. When asked why there is no computer at home — 173 people blamed for this the lack of skills and knowledge about computers, while only 112 respondents indicated financial problems related to the purchase of equipment. This leads to the conclusion that more efforts should be made to educate and point to the benefits associated with the use of computers than to finance the purchase of equipment. It is hoped that if the survey were conducted today, the percentage of people using computers would be higher and the financial barrier would practically lose its importance due to the fall in prices of equipment with minimum specifications for electronic entertainment. [4]



On the other hand, it is necessary to educate software developers to implement better access solutions in their games. This is done by various organizations. One of them is the Ablegamers foundation. Ablegamers has also created a website to help developers better understand disabled players. One of the easiest steps is to change colors by turning on the colour-blindness option. A significant percentage of people have problems distinguishing colors, so it is worth helping this group in the game and developers quite often provide such an option. Other easy to implement solutions are enlarged fonts and subtitles under dialogues, which I use myself (being a healthy person). [5][6]



It's much worse with making it easier to control. A good game should be able to control the mouse and as few buttons as possible. It is extremely important that the control can be changed, but unfortunately, this is not the norm and there are still titles where the keystrokes can not be changed. Not only disabled people but also left-handed people suffer from it. The number of keys needed for operation is also important. Here I think that it is worth giving an example of a small game “Kingdom”, which can be operated with 3 buttons. This is an extremely friendly approach, as opposed to games with extensive control and mandatory QTE sequences. In the Kingdom, we walk left or right and drop coins. That's it.

Complicated games are also the reason why people with disabilities are more likely to use casual titles than hardcore ones. A casual game is usually very simple to use and does not require very efficient motor skills. It is different from hardcore and competent games. While in such a “Puzzle Quest” efficient motoring is not so important, in “Dark Soul" or “CS:GO” it is crucial. It doesn't mean, however, that disabled players can't play serious games. The biggest embrace is control and speed of entertainment, so they will cope better in turn-based strategies than in FPS or action games. [7]

You can talk about Microsoft as much as you want, but one of their latest products really deserves recognition. It is a controller with a hub function. It allows you to connect your gaming controllers to the ports corresponding to the pad buttons on the Xbox console. Players no longer need to program their controllers (which are all mass due to the fact that virtually every disability looks different), it is enough that they connect them to the hub. It's a great product that makes it easy for practically all disabled people to access games. Watch the video about this device. [8]

However, it happens that a potential player is paralyzed from the neck down. In such a case, the Eye Tracker is the device that can help him. It allows you to control it with your eyesight. Theoretically, you can play with it even in action and FPS games, but its use is practically limited to moving the camera. Nevertheless, this solution can work well in turn-based games or games with simplified control.

To sum up. Computer games can be a great way to rehabilitate people with disabilities. They allow you to improve your motor skills and give you a break from the problems associated with disability. We should not forget about intellectual involvement. Games usually provide a lot of satisfaction, much-needed especially for people after serious accidents. Ultimately, online games allow for the socialization of players. Everyone wants to feel needed. In the case of people chained to the bed, this desire may be practically impossible to achieve in the real world. In games, however, it is completely different, as shown by the example of Bacchus mentioned at the beginning.

The future is brightly colored. Society seems to notice that electronic entertainment brings with it a lot of positive values, and voices claiming that games are evil incarnated are rare. The problem is still control, but I think it's only a matter of time until we have developed the technology of capturing thoughts sufficiently because playing games should be for everyone!


[4] Palmer Susan B., Wehmeyer Michael L., Davies Karrie D., Stock Steven E. (2011), Family members’ reports of the technology use of family members with intellectual and developmental disabilities, “Journal of Intellectual Disability Research”, 54, 4: 402–414.
[7] Gałuszka, D. (2017). Gry wideo w perspektywie potrzeb osób niepełnosprawnych. Oblicza Niepełnosprawności w Teorii i Praktyce.

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This is a great write up to explain how much gaming can help positively influence a person's life, especially when they have a disability, mental illness where the game lets them escape and relax, and in general how much it benefits any who play them.
There are so many benefits and more people could do with games of some form.


Yeah! as the author of article (gameeit is editorial team) Ii wanted to show that games are not only time eaters but also gates to different world for disable people, thanks for your feedback!

Thoughtful, well written, and insightful! Thank you for this post!

  ·  2년 전

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