How do you play games when you can't use your hands18 Nov 2015
Whether it's via PC, Xbox, or PlayStation, gaming is a very popular form of entertainment that everyone should be able to enjoy. Games bring happiness to people, but they can be much more than that. They allow those that can't get out there themselves, to be part of a massive community where there's always someone to talk to or do something with.
Speaking from my experience, the online world has always been important to me. When I was in High School it gave me a sense of inclusion and control in my life at a time when I was coming to terms with my disability and finding out about my limitations. The people I played with didn't care about what I couldn't do. They focused on what I could do and only cared that they had someone else to share common interests with.
Unfortunately interacting with a PC or gaming console has always required a certain amount of control and movement in your hands. I lack strength and dexterity in my hands and fingers so controllers give me some grief. But I've always been able to use a keyboard and mouse so I've never had to miss out. Quadriplegics, those missing limbs, or people with neurological disorders aren't always as fortunate.
In 2014 this changed with the introduction of mouth operated devices such as the Quadstick and the Jouse that have brought the world of computing and gaming back to those that can't use their hands.
These controllers allow the user to interact with a PC or gaming console by either puffing or sipping on the controller's corresponding sensor. The Quadstick contains a joystick, four puff and sip sensors, and a lip position senor. All sensors are configurable by the user which allows them customise the device to be used in a number of different situations. The device is also easy to setup thanks to the USB connection allowing it to connect to any compatible device.
During my research into this technology I came across a gamer by the name of Ken Worrall, or
No Hands Ken
as he goes by online. As you may have guessed Ken can't use his hands, due to a construction accident he was involved in that left him a quadriplegic. Given his condition Ken has limitations, but he doesn't let them hold him back while he streams his games live to an audience of thousands. Ken is the perfect example of someone who demonstrates a can do ability.
After the accident Ken had asked to be disconnected from life support. But, he says that access to the online community and gaming saved his life and gave him a sense of purpose. When he first started he said he thought he'd only get about 30 people watching him. When he found out that number was in the thousands he was at a loss for words.
I've never had that sort of reaction from that many people loving me and wanting the best for me. It made me feel incredible.
Ken now has over 30,000 people subscribed to his channel and his videos have been watched by hundreds of thousands. This sort of acceptance is what's possible when you look past a person's disability and focus on what they can do.
If you're interested in learning more about these types of controllers or learning more about Ken's story check out the following links. The Quadstick The Jouse Ken Worrall "No Hands Ken"