Gaming Creators With Disabilities Learn Through Xbox Pilot Program
February 16, 2023
There is a new program by Xbox that helps the creators with disabilities. There are five creators that talk openly about their disabilities while they are streaming, also they express how they feel and what the games mean to them.
Now, let’s see the experiences of these five creators:
Madi used to act in theater before the pandemic, then with the help of her partner she found that she could have a new opportunity playing and streaming. She has ADHD and is autistic, and at first she was not sure how to find companies looking for sponsorships and partnerships, however, she joined the first Xbox Next Level (XNL) Creator Program.
With this program, she and the other participants received guidance on possible partnerships, also on the creation of a hosting reel, camera presentation, best practices in social networks, among other tools and functions that can be useful for creating content to become a full time job for them.
In her content, she talks to her audience on various topics, for example, gaming and mental health, and even supernatural videos.
What she says:
- “I get the ability to game with friends, while still finding a way to incorporate acting and my need for being on a stage.”
- “It was very helpful, and I think it’s information that should be open and readily available for everybody who wants to dive into stuff like this.”
- “It is very hard in the beginning because you just don’t know anything.”
- “Xbox is really trying to put the effort into changing the gaming sphere for marginalized communities more and giving proper representation.”
Mike was a first lieutenant in the US Army, however following a motorcycle accident he sustained a spinal cord injury. He uses a manual wheelchair, however, in the accident he lost much of the function in his hands, making it difficult for him to hold many game controllers. But despite this he tried to customize a controller, after a long time he managed to test and give his opinion on the Xbox Adaptive Controller, with which he was able to play again after a long time.
Mike has always been a fan of games, since he was in elementary school and now thanks to the Xbox program he has also managed to find a new way of working, also in his streaming he shows himself as he is and his audience likes that.
What he says:
- “With all my friends, there’s a tie to gaming. It’s also a kind of social tool for me, but the meaning of it has really shifted.”
- “Before, I was just having fun, exploring new worlds, getting my first taste of online gaming with Halo and creating this community of people all around the world. I’m very mission-oriented now.”
Poshek, who uses they/them pronouns, used to work at a Wisconsin university, but after the pandemic they had to change their jobs and approaches. Despite their disabilities they managed to find an opportunity with the Xbox program, since finding a job in their conditions was not the easiest.
Now Poshek lives in Chicago and plays indie and simulation games, which are friendly to the senses in that they are without loud noises or jumps, but are still quite entertaining. And with the help of the XNL program, they have been able to learn more about the industry, social media, community management, and game development.
What Poshek says:
- “Being an openly queer and disabled person in rural Wisconsin during the middle of a pandemic was an experience, to say the least, so I started seeking that community that I missed.”
- “I started finding niche communities that I really felt comfortable in, and eventually I worked up the courage to try it for myself. It’s been more than I ever expected it to be.”
- “Now I have more people in my corner who are educated on these things that I might be struggling with, who I can feel comfortable to reach out to if I need that support.”
- “If I’m pitching myself for an opportunity, I now have a little bit more information about what the experience is like from their side. That helps me communicate better, make my requests clearer and understand how to give feedback in a way that will be received well.”
Chris has always been a fan of gaming, having watched his brother play as a child, and now he has his own Twitch channel called DeafGamersTV. His disability is that he can’t hear, so on his channel he advocates for accessibility and deaf awareness while reviewing the games he can try and play. Thanks to the XBox program, each participant has a one-year subscription to Xbox Game Pass, giving them the ability to play new games as soon as they’re released. At the same time, the program helped Chris a lot and made him feel more comfortable.
What he says:
- “Being able to stream while I’m playing allows people to see what kinds of barriers I face in games. It also puts a spotlight on people with disabilities, that we’re here, too. We want to feel like we belong. We need representation.”
- “Each disability is different. Without my hearing aid I can’t hear anything at all, but other people may have some hearing.”
- “Some games think all they need to do is put up subtitles and they’re done. But they also need to change the size, color, styles, backgrounds. Or there’s a paragraph there. I’m playing a game, not trying to read a book.”
- “Microsoft and Xbox step it up pretty high, in terms of being inclusive and accessible.”
Shawn already had a background in creating content and streaming. Since he was a child he has liked games, however, he did not have the resources to acquire an Xbox until recently when he started playing again. Gilhuly has been open when talking about mental health, sexuality and his speech and language problems, since since he was a teenager he has suffered from clinical depression and anxiety, but in networks he managed to find a way to feel better and talk about these issues.
And with the Xbox show he has found more opportunities to be able to grow personally and professionally, he also got a lot of benefits and ideas to build his community even though he knew some of the strategies and tips given by the XNL show speakers.
What he says:
- “Being a content creator and not having a lot of money, being able to have Xbox Game Pass and stream so many games off it has really allowed me to find my niche, find more games I’m interested in.”
- “Growing up it was stuttering and the inability to be able to comprehend verbal to written and written to verbal. So I struggled with that for a long time. I’ve gotten really good at hiding and covering it, making sure no one would notice.”
- “Being so proud of their own identity allowed me to have the space to be proud of it myself. I was always proud of my queerness, but I was always worried I was taking up space from people who are physically disabled because I don’t look disabled. But in reality, I have these struggles on a daily basis.”