Video game accessibility can literally lead to life-changing results.
Feelgood Friday: The Power of Video Game Accessibility Told via 3 Short Case Studies
It goes without saying that video game accessibility is important. Video games are the go-to mode of escapism for most of us these days. But to many, it's far more than that.
A few case studies by the BBC detailed exactly how this is the case for three young and disabled gamers based in Wales, with one game in particular popping up in all three of their stories: Minecraft.
For people like 13-year-old Seth who uses a wheelchair, Minecraft is an activity that he can join in on with everybody. Though he is already breaking some new ground IRL by becoming the first wheelchair-using member of the Welsh Youth Parliament, Minecraft provides a level playing field where his use of a wheelchair is as insignificant as his choice of character skin.
Another Minecraft player with an exceptionally productive real-world career is Martha, who volunteers to support poorer children in her area. Simply bonding with others over Minecraft was enough to significantly improve her self esteem. And she also pointed out that the problem-solving within the game was a "good way to advance motor, maths, English and history skills without it being boring."
And finally, 20-year-old Dylan expressed how gaming was a safe space into which he could escape real-world bullying for disabilities and sexual orientation. His preferred repertoire included Mario Word, Just Dance, Call of Duty, Minecraft, and Roblox. And now, Dylan is an actor and presenter who has presented at festivals.
With these examples, it's plain to see how gaming can have a positive effect on our mental wellbeing. And how it can be more significant to some than others. But it's worth remembering the common thread here is that balance is key.
Some solid advice from Bethan Jones-Arthur of Mind Cymru went as follows: "If you find yourself feeling irritable, tired, angry or frustrated, take a step back. Make sure you're eating right, getting enough sleep and going outside if you can and do some form of physical activity just so you're not constantly playing games."
As video game companies like Blizzard continue to make strides in video game accessibility, stories like these remind us why it's so important to ensure that all of our favourite games are playable by everyone, no matter their needs. Because these gamers won't be the only lives that are changed as a result.