Inspirational Gamer of the Week: Gareth Garratt

Hey there folks, sorry for the late post today. I usually like to get my posts done in the morning, but scheduling issues occurred today. Even so, I’m dedicated enough to this blog to make sure these types of stories go out. Especially ones that speak so near and dear to my heart like today’s story. Now this story was actually reported on a little over a year ago on Kotaku, but it’s still very relevant to the topics I try to present on gaming and so that’s why I’m covering it today.

Every once in a while you see a wonderful gesture done by a company that makes the enjoyment of one gamer worth all the hard work put  forth. In the case of UK gamer, Gareth Garret, Visceral Games went above and beyond the call after one letter was written to them. Gareth has a form of cerebral palsy that severely limits his motor skill movements. He has a passion for playing video games, but uses only his chin to navigate the mouse controls. This is an astonishing testament to Gareth’s resiliency to overcome the adversity of his condition, but it was a letter that he sent to Visceral Games that truly got my attention.

In the letter it simply stated:

“I just got Dead Space 2, and I’m so disappointed.”

He went on to talk about how the lack of customizable controls on the PC made it almost impossible to play most titles, and especially Dead Space 2, but how he would very much enjoy playing the game if he could. This caught the attention of other gamers and of Visceral Games and in response Visceral Games sent this note to Gareth:

“Dear Dead Space 2 PC Players, 

The Dead Space 2 team is aware of the issue that disabled gamers are having with Dead Space 2 PC. In fact, a number of folks on our team are so passionate about this  fix done that they are currently working hard to allow players to remap key-bindings in the mouse which should help disabled gamers enjoy the game.”

So why does this even matter, why is all of this relevant to what I’m talking about today? First, I would like for you to check out this video of Gareth. Here he is playing Fallout: New Vegas on his PC – just so you can get a better understanding of amazing this guy is in my eyes, and I hope in yours too:

Well, I’ve been discussing the necessity of accessible controls like crazy in some of my past posts. I’ve explained why accessible controls can ultimately increase revenue streams and why allowing them will ultimately lead to an overwhelmingly better gaming environment for all gamers – not just disabled gamers. There is currently petition going around [ and I’m not sure if I mentioned it in my earlier Button Remapping post ] but it was started by another inspiring gamer who I’ll discuss at a later date named Chuck Bittner.

The petition was set up to start getting mainstream companies to recognize the necessity for accessible controls, accessible options, and the like. I know it may seem far fetched to ask a large company to make a concession of giving accessible controls to all console and PC games, but hear me out on this.

An options menu is clearly just that – AN OPTION. It doesn’t impede an able-bodied gamer from using a control configuration that he/she approves of, it merely gives MORE options to those who don’t fit the standard ‘options’ that are usually set. I can’t imagine having to play like these gentlemen, and I am so blessed that I am capable of doing so much – but these guys inspire me.

They prove to me that even though a person has limitations that were either birth given or man-made it shouldn’t stop you from enjoying a past-time or a specific skill or hobby you enjoy. I’m a huge advocate for this movement and I encourage anyone who’s in agreement with me to go and join the petition:

Button Remapping Petition

Currently there are 83,848 signatures – but there are plenty more disabled gamers out there in this world. So, if you are a disabled gamer, if you know a family member or friend who is a disabled gamer and you want them to be able to have the same enjoyment and opportunities as the rest of the gaming universe then I encourage you to follow up and at least keep following this petition – because it’s something special and much needed in our industry. We need to start seeing gaming as a whole community – not just ‘hardcore’ and ‘casuals’ or ‘females’ and ‘males’ or ‘abled’ and ‘disabled’ – but rather just ‘gamers.’

Gamers one and gamers all. Let’s focus on accommodation and not discrimination.

So here is to you Gareth, for speaking out to a company and getting your voice heard. Here is to you for changing the course of the way a company thinks about it’s products and it’s accessibility, and here is to you for just being an amazing, fantastic person who – through all odds, finds a way to find joy through your gaming. You are truly an inspiration and I applaud you. The day I get an industry job, you can bet my first words out of my mouth are going to be:

“Yeah, but is it accessible though?”

2 responses to “Inspirational Gamer of the Week: Gareth Garratt

    • Thanks man! I know, I’m so impressed by some of these gamers I find. It’s such a shame that often their stories don’t reach mainstream news and understanding. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to Youtube and seen people giving grief to folks who ask for disabled gaming concessions. It’s not a huge task to ask for really, but for some reason, there will always be jerks in this world who feel as though there is only one way to do things.

      I suppose I understand some able-bodied gamers perspectives, certainly, but when you look at a gamer like Gareth, and you see his story and you really emotionally connect with this cause – how can someone look at this in a distasteful fashion as if button remapping is going to change the industry for the worse? I’ve heard comments all over about how button remapping offers unfair advantages, or how it basically allows disabled gamers to cheat, etc.

      These ideas can’t be further from the truth, and quite honestly, when people post things like that it only shows that they’re ignorant of the actual issues at hand. I just hope that the petition gains speed so that more games can be enjoyed by a rather large appreciative group of gamers. It’s not offering an advantage in gaming, but merely another option to allow for more accessible play via a controller. Good to see someone else sees that and supports it.

      Thanks Alex for supporting this whole thing man, and I hope that by finding these stories and by sharing them with others I can help provide more opportunities in gaming for folks like Gareth and all gamers alike. Take care!

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