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Esports players are breaking down disability stereotypes

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Born with muscular dystrophy, a degenerative disease, the young man of 28 mainly participates in tournaments of Street Fighter Vopen to everyone.

The possibility of overcome disabilities and compete against different people makes all the beauty of fighting games.

When I go to a tournament, I don’t want my handicap to be a problem. I want to impress people with the way I playhe told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Totally blind since he was 20 due to a congenital eye defect, Naoya Kitamura, also 28, manages to play tekken 7 relying solely on sounds.

A blind person dons a helmet during an e-sports event.

Blind e-sports player Naoya Kitamura.

Photo: afp via getty images / PHILIP FONG

I will block a shot [de l’adversaire]and the sound it will produce will tell me what shot it washe explains.

Then I’ll react and make my movehe adds, demonstrating with an impressive attack while playing Lucky Chloe, a character from Tekken.

Esports is booming

Esports is booming worldwide, with revenue estimated at over US$1 billion (C$1.3 billion) per year worldwide.

The sector is not as dynamic in Japan as in China or South Korea, but it is gradually gaining importance there.

Wanting to give Japanese gamers with disabilities every opportunity, Daiki Kato, a Japanese social security employee, founded ePara in 2016.

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This company employs gamers like Shunya Hatakeyama and Naoya Kitamura and gives them time to practice video games alongside their work, which includes managing the company’s site and organizing video game events.

Encourage inclusivity within the video game industry

Shunya Hatakeyama has used a wheelchair since he was 6 years old. He’s always loved fighting games, but his muscles have weakened so much over the years that he couldn’t even hold a controller.

Depressed, he decided to stop playing for six years, until he and a friend decided to make a broomstick (joystick) personalized that he can use with his chin, while typing with his fingers on the keyboard of his computer.

Now, he trains other players with disabilities by explaining to them the different sequences and certain techniques.

If I had never played fighting games, I think I would never have sought solutions, even when I was in adversityhe believes.

Changing Perceptions

According to Kato, there is a growing market for people with disabilities, and video game companies will soon start to take this into account.

If you have more visually impaired or hearing impaired people playing video games, then manufacturers will respond by making more games for them to play. »

A quote from Daiki Kato

Mr. Kato wants to use e-sports to show talented people with disabilities, with whom the Japanese population doesn’t really get a chance to interact.

For Naoya Kitamura, esports helps change the perception that people with disabilities don’t have only need help.

I’m really good with computers and I’m able to do things that some sighted people can’t. »

A quote from Naoya Kitamura

People with disabilities do not have just need help. Depending on the circumstances, we can also help others. It’s a story of cooperationhe pleads.

According to him, the term electronic sport helps to be taken seriously, giving an image of competition, and not just that of people who play video games.

Many believe that this discipline will one day appear at the Olympic and Paralympic Games, but there is no need to distinguish between people with and without disabilities in esportssays Mr. Kato.

Whether you are in a wheelchair or not, these are the same rules and the same competitions.

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