Sven, the blind gamer


I was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 6… that killed my optic nerve.. and that’s what unfortunately made me blind. I’m a blind gamer since I was 6 years old. I was in the hospital for 3 months… playing video games was everything to me… the first thing I did when I got home was run up to my computer
to play a video game… but that’s when I found out it didn’t work the way it used to… At some point a friend called me, he had Sreet Fighter II
for the Super Nintendo… so I went to play with my friend, who was playing this video game… I sat next to him, listening to all the things happening in the game… at some point I realised that I could visualize the gameplay
through the sounds… I was able to follow what was going on in the match, so I tried it out myself! It was difficult at first, and I wasn’t very good… so I told my mom “I also want a super Nintendo!”… I was 6 years old, I didn’t know that it cost 400 bucks… which is a lot of money ofcourse. Fortunately, my whole family bought it for me… that’s how I got into Street Fighter. Street Fighter has stereo audio which means that… when my character is standing left, and my opponent on the right… I’ll hear the movements and abilities of those characters accordingly… when both the characters are on the left side… they both make noise on the left side, but one of them
slightly more to the center. That enables me keep to track of our position throughout the match. The music also changes when a character is almost out of health… it gets a bit more exciting when someone’s almost out of health. That’s an indicator that one of us is low on health… other than that it’s very hard to know how much health someone has. Even though I have a disability… I think I have a bit of an advantage, because I can focus on the sound… I also feel like I have a disadvantage in certain situations… because it gives you an extra benefit when you can both see
and hear what’s happening in the match. I always wanted to participate in tournaments when I was younger… the problem was that it’s always far away and expensive… also a little bit scary to go on a trip. But at some point last year, I decided to give it a go and I went to Madrid! That was the closest and earliest tournament for Street Fighter. In Madrid I won a match on the livestream… and after that I got a lot of worldwide attention… people were asking “how do you do that?!”.
That was very special. There are a lot of tournaments out there… but as long as I don’t have a sponsor, I’ll have to pay things out of my own
pocket or from donations from my GoFundMe page… all of the money people donate to me will be used for travelling, registering
and accomodation costs… every donator receives regular updates about how everything goes,
how I develop… whether I’m progressing or not, what place I ended at a tournament. A lot of games could be accessible to people with disabilites, with
a few minor tweaks… the producers often don’t realise that blind people, or people with an other
disability, also want to play video games. For example, a football manager game is mostly text based. That’s perfectly readible to blind people, if they would program it in such a way… that our software that reads text to us would be compatible. There are other games aswell, which could be more accessible… if there are unique sounds for different abilities, in stead of
a lot of the same sounds. If the game developers want their game to be more accessible… they just have to hire a few people with disabilities, let them play the game
and listen to their feedback… so that their game can be more accessible. My plans for the future are ofcourse continue playing Street Fighter and
get better at it… and I hope to motivate people to do what they want to do… it doesn’t matter if it’s gaming or something else… but that they won’t hold back because of their disability… if you want something, go for it! See how far you can go… I really didn’t expect to survive in the world of gaming… look where just one year got me. I would really like it if we could set up a tournament for people who are blind… or people who aren’t blind, but blindfolded, and then play
Street Fighter against each other. It would require a different kind of skill for the people who use
their vision. I think that would be very awesome!

One thought on “Sven, the blind gamer

  1. For sports games that use menus for set plays, have the controller vibrate when it passes over the plays of choice in a pattern, and/or have the machine tell you what it is. Also, next console, have a screen on the controller itself. This way they can have anonymity when setting plays to a certain extent without looking at the opponent's screen.

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