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How Do Blind Gamers Play Games?

TJ is not a professional gamer. His Youtube channel is no more than five thousand subscribers. He is probably the same as all of us who like to play games. One differentiator: TJ is blind person. This condition is also reflected in the name of his Youtube channel, TJ The Blind Gamer.

Yep, TJ is a gamer, and he is visually impaired.

TJ often shares his daily game playing on the channel. His favorite games are shooting games, especially the Call of Duty series, with an average audience of around 50 to 70 people. But on one occasion, the audience for the video exploded into the tens of thousands.

The video contains TJ’s actions while playing Call of Duty: WWII. There he managed to do 7600 kills. Given his condition, people are amazed and wonder: How can TJ play such a good game with his sight problems?

The answer is to rely on sound. Incidentally, Activision as the developer of Call of Duty provides additional accessibility features to make it friendly for people with disabilities. With this feature they can determine various things in the game through the direction and distance of the sound.

There is also an Alexa feature from Amazon that gamers can integrate in Call of Duty. This helps TJ give voice commands as well as receive information via voice as well as regarding the condition of the player, the whereabouts of other players, to progress or achievements in the game.

“When I lost sight in both eyes, I started playing games using a headset not as usual,” this person from Utah, United States, told my box in 2022. At that time, he was 19 years old.

There are so many blind people like TJ. In 2022, the number reached 253 million people. That number is even predicted to continue to increase to three times in 2050. According to Lancet Global Health.

The problem is, only a handful of games provide features that are friendly to visually impaired gamers. The middle way in the end is to play games that are specifically designed for the visually impaired. That too in a relatively limited number.

tj, blind gamer

Some people then criticized the unfair conditions for these blind people. There are researchers, activists, to the gamers themselves. Steve Saylor, a game Youtuber, as well as a blind person, is one of them.

“Initially, my content just showed how bad I was at gaming. However, I came to the Ubisoft conference in 2022. I attended a panel where the speakers shared their experiences. That’s where I realized, it’s not me who sucks, but the game,” said Saylor once.

What Saylor criticizes is no different from most critics. He wants game developers to provide something that makes them, the blind, not look bad when playing games. In short, he wants to enjoy the game smoothly like everyone else in general.

There are several ways to go. The simplest through basic settings such as descriptions in audio form to size fonts. Or a bit tricky such as the special accessibility that TJ could enjoy earlier through the Call of Duty game.

“The creators of games and consoles in the past did not consider disability because the issue was not as well-known as it is today. I wouldn’t mind if that was the case. They may not have any acquaintances with a person with a disability, or may not even be a person with a disability.”

“However, along with the growing community of people with disabilities who also want to play games, developers should be moved to make it happen. The louder the voice, the more people will pay attention to the issue,” said Saylor.

TJ had more specific expectations. “One idea that comes to mind is a configuration that can produce sound and convey the game mode being played, as well as a variety of other important information that helps players with vision problems can more easily access the game,” he said.

At the end of June 2022, developer Naughty Dog released one of the most popular game titles today, The Last of Us Part II. Steve Saylor burst into tears when trying to play it because there are accessibility features that he and gamers have been waiting for person with blind others struggle.

“You have no idea how much this means. There are a lot of things in this game. It’s also been one of the things I and other people with disabilities have been hoping for after a long time,” Steve said in a video he posted on Twitter.


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