Special Effect: UK charity for gaming therapy

Enabled gamers…

I was reminded of how gaming is for everyone after our designer sent over a great Vice article. The feature talks about a UK-based charity called Special Effect, which helps people with physical disabilities play video games. Using modified hardware to suit various disabilities, the charity doesn’t just use the sessions for fun, it’s about gaming as therapy:

“By levelling the playing field, we’re bringing families and friends together and having a profoundly positive impact on therapy, confidence and rehabilitation.”

There is a lovely case study of a young girl called Ceyda who has cerebral palsy. In the video she’s playing Disney Infinity, using a custom set-up provided by the good folk at Special Effect. You can here her shout “I’m now a gamer!”

Last year, Guardian gaming journo Keith Stuart wrote a beautiful article about how Minecrafthelped unlocked communications in his 6-year old autistic son. The creative open world design ofMinecraft doubled with the very specific set of rules and regulations was the perfect digital equation to open his son. Even the BBC ran a feature on the benefits creative games like Minecraftbring to kids with autism. For many, gaming is an escape, but for Keith’s son it became an arrival.

Not only has the definition of gaming widened exponentially, so has the demographic with gaming going mass-market. Also, factor in the democratisation of video content through YouTube and streaming services like Twitch. Now anyone has the tools and budget to produce slick gaming video content. That breeding ground has seeded a level-playing field for disabled eSports gamers. Obviously, ifyou want to become a professional gamer, you still need the twitch-reflex reactions of a Shaolin monk on a sugar rush and the strategic micro-management of a chess player to compete with the cream of the best. And if you are good enough, you can even monetise content through Twitch, which has loads of channels and ad-sponsored deals for disabled players.

With so much negative press around the impact of gaming on kids, it’s great it see such positive spins around the benefits of gaming for everyone.