The UK collegiate esports scene is becoming more inclusive and open to everyone, especially with the developments of qualifications like the esports BTEC taking accessibility into consideration. Whilst the scene is developing at rapid speeds, how accessible is esports at this level for people with disabilities?
Jack “Xtinct” talks about his own personal experiences with starting out on the esports BTEC and being involved in the Student Champs as a person with cerebral palsy.
The esports BTEC is filled with content that is accessible:
Starting out on the esports BTEC I knew that it was going to be a challenge, but the content I have completed so far has been really interesting! When an assignment is set, we have two weeks to complete it and hand it in, which is plenty of time to get your head around things. I absolutely love the fact that all of the course is completed online because this means I can type exactly what I want without having to worry about my hands getting fatigued due to long periods of writing.
The fact that assignments have a two week completion period helps calm my nerves and allows me to feel relaxed, unlike in examinations. Having the opportunity to resit assignments allows me to achieve the best results possible and this also reduces my nerves of getting things wrong as then the lecturers can guide me into correcting the areas and concepts of the assignment that I may have gotten wrong.
The esports BTEC gives out and inspires opportunities:
So far during my time studying the esports BTEC I have been given many different opportunities, such as meeting some amazing and talented individuals that work within the esports industry. The course is what inspired me to create my own unique branding and content organisation that promotes inclusivity within the esports industry – known as Demi Esports. Throughout my entire life I have had to fight for the opportunities that I have been given, but I find it really amazing that within the BTEC I can create my own opportunities and have the full support of my fellow peers and lecturers.
BESC- The embraced opportunities:
The British Esports Student Champs are amazing for introducing students to the competitive play aspect of gaming. I personally am not a player but I really enjoy seeing all of the new up and coming talent on the British Esports weekly Twitch streams. The Student Champs is another amazing way to participate in the collegiate esports scene, whether you’re a spectator or a player there’s always a way that you can get involved with the Champs!
The overall awareness of disability in esports is honestly incredibly small, and this should not be the case. The disabled community in gaming is massive although most people might not be aware of it. Most commonly people use gaming as a way to escape from their own disability, forget about life, become someone else. There was a time in my life where I wanted to do the exact same thing – and now gaming is and will continue to be my own personal form of escapism. When I ask some of the people that I’ve met that are disabled in the scene they all say the same thing, which I fully stand by and agree with. “I would like a platform where I can compete equally with others.
Esports is a massive industry and the wider community should be supportive of everybody. However, this isn’t the case, as I personally receive a lot of hate just because I’m disabled. I always say the same thing to myself if I get a hate message and I personally advise anyone who gets hate in the gaming or esports community to say this to themselves -, “look you are you, nobody can change that, be yourself”. This is actually one of the quotes I kept telling myself when I first started creating content on YouTube at a very young age.
The overall awareness of Disability in esports needs to change and be expanded upon massively, and too often do I see people with disabilities be immediately called “special” or “handicapped” or “weird” regardless of their branding within gaming or esports or overall personality as a person! This needs to change.”
Looking to the future:
Currently there are loads of amazing initiatives that you can get involved with in esports such as Women in Esports, which is an amazing initiative that will bring change to the way that Women are perceived within the scene.. However as a disabled person I’m honestly shocked at the lack of initiatives that support accessibility in esports.
Yes, there are adaptive controllers and ways that disabled people can get involved with gaming and esports but, people with disabilities still can’t compete equally at the moment.. Within the next year I would love to see an esports initiative set up in some way that supports people within esports that have any kind of disability like myself.
The way I see it is that you’ve got a massive community of disabled people that want to get involved with esports (like getting involved in things like the British Esports Student Champs) but are worried that they can’t due to any limitations they have due to a disability Change needs to happen, and I would like to see specific inclusive teams giving everybody the opportunity to compete in the collegiate scene – no matter who they are.
You can find out more about Demi Esports, and the work that Jack is doing for inclusivity in the grassroots scene on Twitter – as well as other content around accessibility in esports here.
For further information around the esports BTEC, and where you can study it, check out this interactive map of the institutions running the course.
Student Champs registrations for the Spring season are now open until the 11th January 2023. Register your team now!