March 30, 2017

Interview: Ability Powered–Guiding Disabled Gamers Through the World of Accessible Games

short from ability powered: game reviews for disabled gamers
Today we are starting a new (semi regular?) series about gamers doing good in the community. We see so many stories about the nasty gamer who did this, or the douchey gamer who did that, and we get scapegoated all the time when something bad happens in the world. But surely there are some amazing gamers out there too, right? Gamers who want to make this community a better place and who go out of their way to get it done. Luckily for us, there are and we’re starting off our series with Ability Powered, a YouTuber who looks at games in a way few others do. 
Below is a conversation we had about being a disabled gamer and what inspired her to start helping others. 
Raeyn: Let’s start with how you got into gaming, what your main gaming interests are, etc.
Ability Powered: I’ve gamed since I was six. I got my first console, an Odyssey 2, one Christmas and fell in love. I was a Mario addict when NES came out too. I played consoles until PS3 released and the controller was so big I couldn’t handle it anymore and started PC gaming. 
Raeyn: Do you mind going into detail about your condition and how it complicates gaming (such as controller size?)
Ability Powered: I have a form of Muscular Dystrophy called Spinal Muscular Atrophy which weakens your muscles over time. Also, I’m kind of a dainty girl so smaller hands and giant console controllers were an issue as my MD progressed. On PS2 I used a Mad Catz micro controller so I could reach both thumbsticks. With PS3 there were no small controller options and my muscles were too weak to handle the bigger ones. 
When I started PC gaming I could still use mouse and keyboard both, so I’d play FPS games and anything really. MD weakened my arms more and I finally gave up my keyboard and went mouse only. That’s when finding games became an issue. 
Raeyn: I’m bad at dates, but did the PS3 come out the same time as Wrath? (You’re a Wrath baby, right? 🙂 ) Is that how you got into WoW?
Ability Powered: I’m a BC’r 😉 My twelve year old brother wanted WoW sooooooooooo bad… I got it for him and played his account one day and was hooked. We’ve been there since 2007.
Raeyn: Hahaha, nice! Was this at the point of being mouse-only? Did they have ways to help you back then or is that something that’s been implemented over time?
Ability Powered: Yeah, I was mouse-only by then and even at the beginning WoW was mouse-only friendly mostly. They’ve gotten even better as time went on. 
Raeyn: I remember watching one of your videos where you used the on screen keyboard and I went, “Oh! That’s what that’s for!” Your ability to teach, not just fellow disabled gamers, but other people as well is really wonderful. I just remember seeing that keyboard in my game and asking, “Why would anyone ever use that?” I feel like that’s one of the most impressive things you do–educate. 
Ability Powered: Thank you! That’s why I started Ability Powered. There’s an ingame feature called Move Pad that helps control your character, and no one knew about it. I knew sharing any tips I had might help someone else. A guildie actually pushed me to get busy with it for a year! Lol.
Raeyn: And was that guildie Griff [YouTube channel Slightly Impressive] since he already does the whole YouTube thing? 
ability powered guildies: game reviews for disabled gamers
Supportive guildies. ©Blizzard Entertainment
Ability Powered: Okay, I should say two guildies! Lol. Crazyknight was pushing me to build a website, but as you can tell I’m a slow typer so I really wanted to do video. I hate my voice so I was scared of YouTube, but Griff was like, “Just do it, ignore trolls.” He’s helped so much with everything YouTube, especially moral support! 
Raeyn: The internet is certainly a cruel place if you are in any way “different” or hold opposing views. I can only imagine how much strength that took, so huge props to you for going ahead with it!
Ability Powered: You definitely have to be thick skinned. Honestly though, the positive messages and comments have outweighed the bad soooooo much that it really helps me ignore the trolls.
Raeyn: Well, you’re genuinely helping people–trolls hate that!! Now, on to the YouTube channel! Do you want to give a little info on just what it is and what your goals are with it? 
Ability Powered: The YouTube channel is evolving monthly. I mean, I started thinking, “I’m doing WoW videos”, then Crazy pointed out I should test others and post them. I guess over the years thinking out of the box has its benefits. I’ll get stuck in a game and find weird ways around it. So the channel will definitely be WoW, but I keep thinking of other things I want to share. 
Raeyn: Absolutely. I think your test videos are really great–while most people do first impressions and talk about graphics, mechanics, gameplay, characters, etc, you have the chance to talk about something no one else is, which helps disabled gamers in ways no other let’s player or reviewer does. 
Ability Powered: Yeah, there’s been soooo many times I would want a game and need to know 1) does it have window mode? and 2) Can I click to walk? But no one would cover settings. I try to show all settings so everyone can decide if the game has what they need. 
ability powered: game reviewer who helps disabled gamers
Ability Powered showing you how to venture across the dreaded ropes with just your mouse! ©Blizzard Entertainment
Raeyn: It’s so sad to me in a way that gamers and game critics, etc, always focus on the same things when talking about game inclusion (and I am no different). For me one of the things that inspired +10 was my frustration with how games are now, particularly in how characters are depicted: women are normally bad, minorities are bad, homosexuals are bad, etc. But no one ever mentions that there’s a huge subset of people who, not only aren’t included, but also are often prevented from playing in the first place.
Ability Powered: Yeah, even characters in game… There was a big Twitter explosion over Warlords of Draenor not having a female lead and it was making people feel not included.. I was that person sitting back like, “Well, there’s no disabled NPCs even in the game…” =/ I just couldn’t see their frustration, but I think it’s just the norm for me. 
Raeyn: You’ve certainly opened my eyes, and hopefully the eyes of many others, that when it comes to the fight for inclusion and acceptance in gaming, we can’t stop at “the main three” as it seems to be now. I honestly can’t think of a single person with a disability I have ever seen in a game…ever. So while we can bitch about there not being enough women or black or homosexual people, it’s like, “Well…at least there are some.” 
Ability Powered: Someday if I work really hard MAYBE Blizzard will add the Ability Powered Chair, lol. 
Raeyn: That would be so amazing! You should start a Twitter campaign for it! There’re so many people who would hashtag and retweet the heck out of that! 🙂
Ability Powered: There’re soooooooo many disabled gamers.
Raeyn: Alrighty, well, I think it’s time to wrap this up. I have one final question: in the video where you and your avatar sat together, HOW DID YOU GET HER THERE WITH YOU??? It looked so amazing and perfect, and I watched the video twice to try to figure it out! (I went to a vocational film school my senior year of high school, so I should have been able to figure it out, but, alas, technology…)
[Also, that’s when I decided maybe going into film as a career was a bad idea…]
Ability Powered: Haha! Movie magic! Also, WoW model Viewer! 😉
Raeyn: AAARGH! Haha, well thank you so much for taking the time to do this!
Ability Powered: Anytime, thanks for asking me for an interview!
Ability powered: reviewing games for disabled gamers
©Blizzard Entertainment
Meeting Ability Powered (or Short as she’s called by her guildies) is absolutely one of the best things that has come out of writing this blog as I don’t think I would have had a Twitter account otherwise. In my early Twitter days I tried (almost always very awkwardly) to interact with other people (isn’t this what I’m supposed to do?!?) and one of the people I replied to was Slightly Impressive, who is one of my favorite YouTubers (you may in fact recognize Short’s avatar as the gnome from his videos). Not put off by my awkwardness, Short started following me and she has been one of the kindest people I have ever met (online or otherwise, to be honest). Not only that, but she’s pointed things out to me that I would never have thought of otherwise (at one point I was bitching about the new Steam controllers and she mentioned how they could potentially be helpful for disabled gamers–I was horrified by how selfish and inconsiderate my statement had been, but as I mentioned in our chat, this is one of her many amazing qualities. Games will never change unless we know things are wrong in the first place).
Though I’m still awkward and weird (it just comes with the package, I’m afraid. :/ ), her training as a former MDA spokeswoman is clear in her patience when answering questions. 
Short is a fun (and incredibly funny), supportive person who has decided to make a positive impact on the gaming community, and I don’t think she can be praised enough. It would be so easy to let the lack of accessibility upset her and turn her away from games, but instead she uses these struggles to help other people. 
Gaming should be as open and accessible to all people as every other form of media is now. Perhaps with time, and more exposure, the gaming industry will see how many people they’re excluding (and come on, they’d be fools not to open up to disabled gamers–they want more money, right??)
Check out Ability Powered’s YouTube, website, and Twitter, and be sure tell all of your friends who could benefit from her help! 
About Raeyn 91 Articles
Founder of +10 to Fire Resist | Streamer | Happiest when it's storming.⛈ Feel free to email me at and follow me on Twitter! @JustRaeyn
Contact: Twitter
%d bloggers like this: