As an adult with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, assistive technology is a vital element of living an independent lifestyle for Vivek, who has a long and productive association with Muscular Dystrophy UK.
Here he describes how gaming is a brilliant activity for him personally, and also comments enthusiastically about the new MDUK Game On initiative.
“The new MDUK Game On initiative is a wonderful way to do two of many people in our community’s favourite activities, Gaming and raising money for MDUK. Physical fundraising can be very tiring, so being able to fundraise in your own home allows you to feel like you are giving back to MDUK. I know this will be a great new opportunity for MDUK so Game On!”
Vivek, 30, from Leicester, said: “Gaming is an ideal way for me to cope with my deteriorating muscles and it gives me a sense of freedom and ability.”
The first game that hooked him was Super Mario World on the Gameboy Advance. Over the years, he has cleverly developed ways of dealing with small problems that developed, his love for gaming continuing to be a major skill and interest.
“I only faced serious accessibility problems when I bought a PS4 due to additional muscle wastage and drastic change of controller shape.
“The controller was heavier, bigger, button positions had been changed and I found the buttons and sticks difficult to press. At that point, the issues led me to decide to completely give up gaming.
“It was only when my mum noticed how depressed I had become that I realised how important gaming was to me.”
They had to find a solution, one of which was raising his wrists on small sponges to avoid holding the controller.
“It took a year for my new setup to be developed in partnership with the gaming charity Special Effect. It was an interesting process and including me trying a one-handed joystick, but no initial ideas were successful and I wanted to have more control over my controller setup.
“Special Effect provided me an adapter that allowed me to write scripts to make it easier for me to game. These included assigning actions like sprint to pushing the left stick forward, creating my own button combos, and more. I had a controller stand created for me in another project which solved my issue of fatigue.
“Finally, I personally adapted my controller by increasing the height of certain buttons using small rubber circles bought from Amazon. My setup uses four sponges to raise my wrist to be higher than the sticks and support my elbows. Without this I wouldn’t be able to play.”
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