In 1958, Tennis for Two was introduced to the public.
The game was simple: two players versed each other in a competition of virtual tennis, with basic graphics representing a net and two rackets. While it may seem rudimentary now, the game is widely considered to be one of the world's first iterations of a video game.
Flash forward to today and over 70% of American households contain at least one person who plays video games, making it one of the most popular hobbies across the nation. Of those millions of gamers, 1 in 5 report having some sort of disability, yet often video games lack the accessibility features necessary for disabled gamers to enjoy playing.
Easterseals knows everyone deserves to have access to the same fun experience when playing video games, which is why they’ve launched ES Gaming. Their mission aims to challenge the video game industry to raise their standards for accessibility, inclusion, and equity, as well as provide a community for disabled gamers and allies & advocates to connect through gaming.
Inclusion is not a hindrance to video game developers or the gaming community, and ES Gaming continues to prove that. Using popular streaming platform Twitch, ES Gaming’s Game4Access channel hosts and promotes disabled gamers playing games designed with them in mind, showing that adding accessibility features doesn’t detract from the game – instead, it enhances the experience. Likewise, gamers from all over the world are invited to join the ES Gaming Community on Discord, an online app that allows players to chat and build friendships in a fun and inclusive environment.
Despite many negative stereotypes surrounding video games, the reality is that gaming provides many benefits to players – disabled and non-disabled alike. Not only do video games help relieve stress, stimulate creativity, and build problem solving skills, they also address isolation challenges by fostering connections between gamers all over the globe.
This past July, the Gaming4Access channel hosted a stream event in celebration of Disability Pride Month. Check out twitch.tv/game4access to see a replay of the excitement as well as upcoming streams – and visit esgaming.gg to learn more about hopping online with their gaming community.