There are often many reasons why we play videogames, and these can differ greatly from person to person. There tend to be a few, common strands however, that are as true for, say, you, as they are for me. Indeed, whether you’re a young ‘un with razor-sharp reflexes cutting your way across an FPS map, or, ahem, a “slightly older” gamer exploring every inch of a sandbox game slowly and methodically, I’d wager that one of those common strands is this: videogames allow us to indulge in fantasies of being bigger, stronger, faster, allowing us to do things we normally couldn’t do, unburdened by the physical limitations of our own bodies, the laws of physics or, like, reality.
Last week I came across the awesome (in the truest sense of the word) story of Ken Worrall who is living testament to the benefits of that aspect of gaming, but in a way soooo much more meaningful than me getting addicted to the fantasy of double-jumps, or one-finger-death-punches. Injured in a construction site accident 20 years ago which left him a quadriplegic, Ken plays Diablo using a special mouse/joystick (called a jouse) which allows him to control the game using his mouth. Broadcasting on Twitch, and regularly doing so to large audiences (as opposed to my personal best of 1!) he has proved an inspiration to many, whilst simultaneously helping to raise the issue, and profile, of disabled gamers the world over.
I’m probably one of the most cynical people you’ll ever meet, but I couldn’t help but be moved and inspired by this video. We all love games, and we all devote a fair amount of time to them, but it’s easy to forget just how much potential and impact they can have, and Ken is proving that gaming can be a positive, and inspiring medium, even if we sometimes take it for granted.
If you’d like to learn more about this, or even donate, you can visit the AbleGamers website, watch Ken stream on Twitch under the name of NoHandsKen, or find out more about the jouse at their website here.