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Video Games and the Deaf Community
By Alice Power
The video game industry as a form of entertainment has become a widely used and enjoyed medium. Because of their popularity, the video game industry is able to translate video games into other languages so that people from all over the world can enjoy them. There are even considerations taken so that children of any age are able to enjoy games that are suitable for their age range. However, there is little to no consideration given to deaf gamers. I was interested in this topic because I have grown up enjoying video games and took for granted the fact that I am able to understand and play them without any problems. For the deaf community this can be a little more difficult.
While I was looking up deaf video gamers on the internet I realized that there is a common complaint among deaf gamers. All video games are not required to have captions to help the deaf gamer understand what is going on. This is very frustrating to many because it limits the variety of games they are able to play. Traditional video game reviews do not give the deaf consumer the proper information about the availability of subtitles so I found one website that did. Deafgamers.com explains “Text/visual feedback is a key issue for a deaf person and many has the occasion been when a deaf games player purchased a game only to find no visual feedback or very little of it (this can ruin the game for them).” (Deaf Gamers). So this site not only reviews the quality of the game but the games “deaf friendliness” if you will.
KQED did a program called “Video Games—Access for All” in which they talk about the challenges that people face and the responsibility game developers have in making their games accessible to everyone including the deaf community. One hearing impaired person interviewed was frustrated about being able to play the game Doom 3. While he was able to hear with a Cochlear Implant, his friend who was deaf was unable to enjoy it because of the dynamic sounds in the game. He propositioned the company who makes the game to have him make the captions so that it could be an option in the game. So far several thousand people have downloaded the captioned version of the game.
There is no sense in an industry to limit the amount of people able to use their products. The video game industry should really look at this problem and go along with the same standards that television and movies already have addressed. I think this really opened my eyes to the problem deaf people still have when it comes to accessibility even in our seemingly advanced technological world.
Deaf Gamers. 2008. 2000 <http://www.deafgamers.com>.KQED. KQED Quest Television Story. 1 May 2007. <http://www.kqed.org/quest/television/view/276>.
Also see: Gaming and the Deaf
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