Esports is for all – The inclusion of disabled people in esports

Esports is for all – The inclusion of disabled people in esports

8 min read | 24 Mar 2021

The esports industry has become more inclusive over the years, and still works to expand even further.

One major development the industry has seen is the inclusion of individuals with disabilities, and how they have been able to become more involved in esports. Some events have been held across the world to provide esports opportunities for disabled gamers, and several individuals have been able to break into the pro scene, regardless of their disability. 

From companies creating adaptive equipment for disabled gamers, to the general acceptance of people with disabilities, the industry has opened so many doors to make it even more accessible.

Specialised Equipment
There are several companies and charities within the video game industry that produce adaptive equipment for individuals who may not be able to play games in the traditional ways.

Microsoft is one of the leading names to do this – developing an adaptive controller for individuals in place of the traditional handheld alternative.

It consists of a base, and allows for various buttons or attachments to be bound to each of the controls. This gives individuals the freedom to adapt their controller to their own needs, whilst giving them the opportunity to play.

SOURCE: Microsoft

As well as tech giants pioneering adaptive technology, charities also work to create specialised gaming equipment.

SpecialEffect are a charity that works to create bespoke gaming setups tailored to an individuals’ needs. Anywhere from modded controllers to eye-controlled systems, they work alongside people with disabilities to ensure everyone gets the chance to game.

They are just one of many charities across the world that create various ways for people to enjoy gaming and esports

Esports in Non-Mainstream Education
Alongside this, individuals with physical and hidden disabilities are also taking steps into esports across all sectors.

For example, people with Autism may find gaming and esports a comfortable environment, or just somewhere they can have fun.

In some Alternative Provision schools (non-mainstream education), gaming is used as a way to encourage these children to learn, and gradually esports is being integrated into that.

In 2019, British Esports ran a pilot tournament, in conjunction with PC Specialist and Fierce PC, exclusively for AP schools, as a way to offer inclusive esports to school children. The pilot was a huge success, and will hopefully commence again after COVID-19 lockdown restrictions are lifted in the UK.

On top of this, British Esports Championships team St. Vincent Sharks have a Rocket League team that includes SEN (Special Educational Needs) students.

Martin Birch-Foster, Head Coach of the St Vincent Sharks, said: “The team consists of 12 students – 6 from the School of Personalised Learning which is our SEN provision and 6 from our Sixth Form Provision. The students from our School of Personalised Learning (SPL) have played mostly scrims this season due to COVID-19 preventing students from mixing in college…however the Sixth Form team still consists of players with SEN.”

“Our SPL team has enjoyed every moment of our scrims and is always looking to play. The team has lost a lot of matches, but the idea of winning isn’t the only reason they play. For the majority, they want to compete against a college or school and not just those in their own college or town.”

“The way it has impacted our learners is that a lot of them enjoy gaming as a hobby, and it is a shared passion of theirs. They have not had a team they could cheer and support before… so for them to have a team that is theirs is extremely rewarding and brings the entire college together.”

“I actively encourage students with SEN to play to give them the chances that traditional sports may not always be able to…it doesn’t matter about your skill in the game, if you are having fun and enjoying the competitive environment, then you are already a winner.”

Read the full interview with Martin here.

Esports in these environments allow people to take part alongside their friends, whilst being able to experience the competitive side of gaming.

Another example of this is National Star taking part in the AoC Sport FIFA 21 Cup. As a company, National Star works to provide opportunities for people with disabilities and worked to help two of their students take part in the tournament. They were the first two people with disabilities to take part in the AoC Cup, and hope to expand their involvement in esports!

Sim Racing
Stepping further afield, eTeam Brit is a branch of the Team Brit brand that provides sim racing experiences for people with disabilities. The team consists of players that all have disabilities, and allows them to take part in esports events and race competitively.

Max Spooner, Team Manager and Driver at eTeam BRIT, said: “We take our team made up of all disabled drivers and compete in some of the biggest esports competitions including the eRacing Endurance World Championships, British GT eSports Championship, and iRacing Special Events.”

“We also run our own championship called GT Challenge where we showcase our drivers against some of the biggest sim racing teams including Team FORDZILLA, Zansho Simsport and Rocket esports owned by Jenson Button. As well as this we also have our World-leading hand controls system allowing our sport to become even more accessible.”

“For example, I can turn round to an able-bodied driver and say go out and buy a £200 Logitech wheel and pedal set and if you have a games console or reasonably capable PC you can go sim racing. As soon as you put a physical disability into the equation and that’s where I think the problems start. Your £200 steering wheel turns to £1,000.”

“I want to find ways working with equipment OEMs to find solutions that can bring the cost of entry down. If we can do that I can see an influx of disabled drivers coming into sim racing and I’d love for us to be their go-to when it comes to finding equipment that suits their needs.”

Steps like these (and many others we haven’t spoken about) are really showing that esports is for everyone, and can be accessible even to those with disabilities!

Some may say that someone taking part in esports with a disability has a disadvantage, but the industry has levelled the playing field to give everyone an equal chance.

Esports is for everyone!

By Bryony-Hope Green

Check out our article on the accessibility of esports, and view the full interview below!



Keep up to date with British Esports

Why wait? Get the latest resources, articles and opinions direct to your inbox.
So you can say you heard it before your friends.