Gaming for the disabled

Gaming as a female has sometimes been a challenge.  I have at alternating times in my gaming career found being anonymous far more interesting and relaxing than being myself. 

For almost 4 years, about the time DDOcast 2.0 started, I stopped talking in any games. I asked Zeff to stop referring to me as his wife in games.  I stopped interacting on most of my social channels, and those I kept were culled to people I had either met in real life or known a long time.   

There wasn’t one huge event leading up to my burying myself.  I just felt a generalized anxiety when playing with people I didn’t know.  Crass comments, or an over showering of in game items can happen from time to time, but I found once I stopped being “female,” I could just get on with enjoying whatever game I wanted to play.

I also found much of the advice stopped.  I didn’t have to argue about my builds, my weapon choices, or why I was the melee dps character in the group. 

My playing improved as did my confidence as I stopped feeling like I need to be better than everyone in a group in order to prove myself.  I am not sure that is something all female gamers feel, but I do know after experiencing marathon “build” sessions where I was told why what I wanted wouldn’t work at length, I stopped thinking for myself.

When I got sick in 2014, I had no idea some of the old insecurities would crop up.  As my muscles and some of my nerves began to fail, I found conventional gaming very difficult.  My arms get too tired on a conventional keyboard, so I use a laptop on a bed tray and lay a body pillow across my body to hold my arms up.  It helps for a little while, but the days of monster gaming sessions are very much over.

My mouse hand cramps up tons.  It means I can’t be as fast at responding as others.  I feel the difference.  It’s frustrating, and I don’t group with people I don’t know anymore.  I can’t take the chance someone is going to pitch a fit about my less than stellar healing or something.

I have some trouble hearing now, so I tend to put on headphones and keep the voice chat on them.  My ingame sound comes out of speakers on my alienware.  It’s an ok set-up, and it means I use visual cues much more often than others.

Keyboard shortcuts are a huge pain in the tush.  If one hand is tired, I can use the other in a pinch, but when a game wants me to use both hands and then manipulate the mouse, I find myself frustrated. 

I don’t play a lot of fast paced games anymore.  Fall out 4 works for me on good days because I can pause it almost instantly when muscles cramp or simply refuse to work.  MMORPG’s only work if I am playing with friends. They are pretty forgiving if I have to bow out, or miss a movement.  Pugs are just brutal.  Things I can play solo are best because I can do as I need to do. 

I’ve been poking about looking to see what’s out there for disabled gamers.  The answer is not much.  Depressing, but I am sure there is a limited pool of people gaming with disabilities maybe?  More likely, there are many gamers who become chronically ill or disabled and just stop playing.  The world isn’t very forgiving of those who are different, and gamers can be wonderful people, but they have very high standards. 

I don’t know what my future holds right now.  I do know I have tons of downtime, and I want to be able to game until my arms fall off.  I used to sit in my office at my 9-5 job thinking about all the things I wanted to be at home to do.  As my body has begun to fail me, I can’t do most of them without help, but with the level of technology available, gamers of all kinds should be able to fall into their virtual worlds with ease.

I have many things on my plate.  I don’t think I am going to be able to solve this one myself, but I’d like to highlight the issue from time to time to remind people not everyone comes to their gaming worlds from the same angle.