Guest Post by Lamoine Williams – AKA – Blind Ohio Gamer (Blind OG83)
My name is Lamoine Williams, also known as blind Ohio Gamer (Blind OG83). I was born with vision but lost my sight later in life at the age of 29. However, before losing my sight, I was a video game enthusiast. My interest in games began shortly after my mom bought me a PlayStation 1 as a reward for getting good grades in school in 1997. The game I picked out with my console was Final Fantasy 7, which still is one of my favorite video games today, although I can’t play it anymore because of accessibility barriers.
Losing my sight took a huge toll on my life. On top of that, one of the main hobbies I enjoyed to escape reality was taken away from me. I had to relearn how to cope and relearn how to problem-solve in a short amount of time. Some people view gaming as a trivial, childish hobby, but I’ve found that gaming can teach a person things that in some cases can’t be learned anywhere else. Critical thinking and problem-solving skills are just two of the skills that can be learned quite proficiently through game theory.
My focus now is to spread blindness-related accessibility awareness as well as disability awareness in general to as many people as I can. I’ve learned that blindness awareness has two sides. One side is making developers and game studios aware that there are blind gamers, and those gamers make up a growing percentage of the gaming population. The second is by making gamers who are blind aware that consoles, like Xbox 1, are accessible to the totally blind. I do this on both sides by challenging society’s views about what is and what is not possible for people who are blind.
Social media has helped me interact with more developers and game studios than I’d ever thought possible when I first lost my sight. Now, I use these tools as a positive means for spreading accessibility awareness. The difficulty I had in finding videos on YouTube featuring blind people playing mainstream video games led me to create my own YouTube channel. Not only do I demonstrate that playing video games is possible for someone who is totally blind, but I also offer reviews from an accessibility standpoint. The review videos I record are sent to the developers of the games for accessibility analysis.
On my YouTube channel, I cover games that 90% of the time were not meant for someone without sight to play. That, however, doesn’t hold me back from trying out games and sending videos to developers on how they can make their games more inclusive. Some of my favorite games to play include Madden 20, Gears of War 5, and Mortal Kombat 11 for Xbox. For PC, I use both Xbox Game Pass and Steam. My goal is to create an information hub where people who are blind or low vision, or even their friends and family, can come to find a light at the end of the tunnel. The more people share the information provided, the more the ripples will turn to waves, and those waves will turn into tsunamis.
One of the biggest things that I tell gamers who complain about not being able to play certain games is this: get in contact with the developers of the games you want to play, let them know that you want to play their games, and what’s stopping you from being able to play. I have found that most developers are interested in knowing what they can do to make their games more accessible to everyone.
Actually, there has never been a better time than now for accessibility in the mainstream gaming market. People are starting to realize that with Microsoft’s commitment to accessibility and making sure that their wide range of products and services are accessible to everyone, this isn’t just technologically possible, but should be the standard. If you have any questions for me, or if you’re just curious about what I do, feel free to reach out to me using the contact information below.