There is no doubt that the Paralympics is an amazing event that really helps celebrate the diversity of human life on this little planet of ours. However, when it comes to physical handicaps, video games can be seen as a bit of an equaliser. Being as they rely less on physical attributes, depending on a persons ailment a person with a disability could well hand out a solid butt-whupping to an able-bodied opponent.
While this is the case, occasionally, it isn’t always! Say for instance your disability rendered you unable to use one hand you would be instantly disadvantaged against somebody with two. Well, Japan is leading the charge to wrong this right by introducing a tournament aimed at differently-abled gamers.
The tournament aimed purely at less-able gamers will take place at the end of August as part of the Gunma eSports Festival in Takasaki. While the contest might not be the most lucrative in eSports history at just over 9000 dollars. (That’s a million yen if you’re interested.) It is still a massive breakthrough and a display of inclusivity in the eSports industry.
So what game is the tournament centred around? Well, it’s one of eSports most popular titles, the battle arena classic, League of Legends. The tournament is set to feature 4 teams, each consisting of five players vying for the top prize.
League of legends Tournament
It goes without saying that League of Legends is high profile. So in many ways, it seems like a fitting choice for the first tournament of its kind. And who could argue that it’s not a positive for the industry becoming more inclusive?
The upcoming festival will feature the company Onelife Inc who among their endeavours produce specialist gaming equipment designed with competitors in mind. It seems really apt that they are involved with the process.
Among the companies, other claims to fame is their much-vaunted training centre. Unlike regular centres, this one caters exclusively to those with a disability. This wonderful contribution has started to be adopted in the Western hemisphere as well through groups such as Able Gamers.
The Gunma eSport Festival has to be applauded for their efforts to make gaming more accessible. They hope through their work that one day it will be possible to host tournaments that feature both able-bodied and disabled competitors.
One competitor who may well take advantage of contests such as this is Ryuya Koshizuka who suffers from muscular dystrophy. The condition affects his hands and so he has learned to use a controller using his mouth. Inspiring stuff.
Koshizuka commented in an interview that “It was hard to remember at first, but now, I can use it,” he also added, “I hope to win at the tournament.”
He isn’t the first gamer to use this technique in order to be able to compete. Mike ‘Brolylegs’ Begum, a pro-gamer who specialises in Streetfight 5 uses his tongue to access the controller. He uses a standard Dualshock controller and was even able to compete in the “Street Fighter League” during its inaugural season.
One of the issues is that modern gaming devices tend to be designed with the able-bodied in mind. Ergonomics are very important when designing computer peripherals. Fortunately, groups such as Onelife and Able Gamers are working to try and make games more accessible for the likes of Brolylegs and Koshizuka. The Gunma eSports Festival is also doing its part by raising awareness of this group of gamers who seem to be failed by the system but deserve their chance to shine and make their mark on the world of eSports.