The issue of equality in esports is never far from the news. Whether it is the issue of female participation and the toxic environment that can exist for female players or factoring in ways that people with disabilities of all kinds can participate in games, finding harmony and equity has been a challenge, to say the least.
Luckily, there are those times when the esports community does something special in the name of equality. That’s our news today.
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Disadvantages for deaf players
One of the most striking features of CS:GO is that its sound does more than convey what is happening on screen. The game has been designed so that players can use sound to track the position of enemies or gain an understanding of what an enemy team is doing (such as setting a bomb). Top players can routinely use this aural feedback to gain insight and win matches.
Thus, deaf players, who cannot use this particular aspect of the game, find themselves at a big disadvantage. At recreational levels of the game, it may not be such a big deal. But when you venture into higher-level CS:GO esports, this setback can be insurmountable.
The new deaf-friendly config
In order to help deaf players overcome this, the French CS:GO player iDex has come up with an ingenious workaround. Rather than represent sounds through headphones, a new config allows deaf players to “see” players steps and a number of other sounds key to the game, such as enemy diffusing or planting bombs.
Luckily, FaceIt has approved the config, provided the filters are unchanged.
This is crucial if the config is to have any shelf life. The key to developing any tool for players with disabilities is to ensure the workaround only helps the player to compete on an equal footing with other gamers. The pendulum, of course, can’t swing too far toward an outright advantage.
It is encouraging to see modifications like this, which help players with disabilities compete on an even playing field with all other gamers. And it shows that the esports community is taking seriously the needs of people who, through no fault of their own, are at a significant disadvantage when playing.
Images courtesy of Valve Corporation