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"Gaming and the Deaf"


by A.J. Ansotegui


Gaming and the Deaf

Have you ever played a videogame that you loved from that first moment you saw it? I have, it's Skyrim the Elder Scrolls V. I loved the game. I wanted to play as every character and max out all my skill trees. It is a good role-playing game (RPG) that has an awesome story. In addition, it is free roam so you do not have as many restrictions.

Many people like a very well made game. There are some little glitches, they tend to happen when a lot of stuff is going on; such as too much fire spread or dropping too much at once. However, every game has some minor bugs and glitches. No game can be perfect. Not to mention, if you get the legendary edition you unlock more quests and more places to go.

Video games draw your attention to the graphics and storyline. They want you to feel like you are in the game. However, what if you could not hear the enemy coming up behind you? What if you could not move out of the way in time? This is what Deaf and hard of hearing people have to deal with all the time.

Skyrim is a good example of a game that is accessible to Deaf gamers. It has closed captions and you can change the controls to vibrate when you are hurt. This game also has amazing graphics and is for xbox360, ps3 and PC. For the PC, you can download mods to help make the game look and play better; sometimes it adds more weapons, armor and quests.

"Did you know that gamers of all kinds have larger Goldmann visual fields?" (David Buckleya, Charlotte Codinaa, Palvi Bhardwaja, Olivier Pascalisb. 2010 March 5) Goldmann visual fields refer to a person's peripheral vision, what you can see from the corner of your eyes. This comes in handy when you are playing games such as Black Ops or Battlefield. It helps when you are looking for the enemy while checking for any traps that have been set up.  Peripheral vision is beneficial in gaming and everyday life, for instance driving.

I have talked to a long time gamer who plays PS4. He has experienced gameplay with plenty of Deaf gamers. In his words, he says "it doesn't matter if they can't hear, they can still see the screen. "(Taylor Kyle 2016 October 10) I agree with his statement. I have played without sound; it is very hard to do. I have great respect for all the disabled gamers in the world.

Not to worry, almost all games have subtitles.  You can read what is being said and get pulled into the story. Games such as "Firewatch, Far Cry Primal, and ARK: Survival Evolved are great games for Deaf gamers" (Susan 2016 March 6).

While many games have subtitles, there is room for Improvement.  A Practical guide to game accessibility states there are five ways game makers can help Deaf gamers:

 1. Put subtitles on. By putting subtitles in games, you are able to read everything and be able to understand the story line.

2. Increase font size. If you cannot see what the people are saying, then you will not be able complete tutorials and then progress nowhere in the game.

3. Change the fonts color. Change text to a brighter color so you can see what is being said.

4. Ambient noise will try to work with the subtitles. So when playing the game, you will see the text appear when something happens.

5. Alternative reactionary inputs are in some games. For example, if you are hurt, blood will appear on the screen or a vibration from the controller will happen. Games such as "Call of Duty and World of Warcraft will have this" (Barlet, Mark and, Spohn, Steve 2011 Aug 10).

My experience has been numbers 2 and 3 are seen mostly on PC. However, Xbox and PlayStation are trying to improve accessibility as well.

There are many groups whose sole purpose is to give disabled kids access to play their favorite video games. Groups such as Ablegamers and Specialeffect are just a couple of groups. There are also a lot of Deaf gaming communities where people join to chat about their favorite games or just to mingle.

In the end, I notice the gaming industry is working on giving everyone a great gaming experience regardless of any disabilities.


Barlet, Mark and Spohn, Steve (2011, Aug. 10). A Practical guide to game accessibility.  The ablegamers foundation. Retrieved 24, September. 2016

Susan (2016, March. 6) Deaf gamer  Retrieved 1, October. 2016

Taylor Kyle (2016, October. 10) Facebook interview 10, September. 2016

David Buckleya, Charlotte Codinaa, Palvi Bhardwaja, Olivier Pascalisb (2010 March 5). Academic Unit of Ophthalmology and Orthoptics, School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2RX, United Kingdom, Laboratoire de Psychologie et NeuroCognition, Université Pierre Mendes France, Grenoble France Retrieved 16, October. 2016


Also see: Deaf Gamers


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