Community Soapbox – Chris Robinson (AKA DeafGamersTV)

Chris has a special place in our heart here at Can I Play That? Years ago, back in 2014, I believe it was, when we first started doing Deaf game reviews, he was our first fan, the first person to introduce us to the wonderful community of people working to improve game accessibility. Without his friendship and encouragement, we wouldn’t exist, so it seemed only natural to ask him to be our first Community Soapbox feature.

Chris is a streamer on Twitch and Mixer and he does some incredible game accessibility advocacy work as well. On his channels, he promotes inclusion and kindness and you can learn a little ASL while you’re watching too!

1. What inspired you to start DeafGamersTV?

I was going through some tough times with my depression and I needed to figure out how to get out of it. One day I was playing a game and I was sitting through the cutscene and I realized something. I didn’t know what the heck was going on and there were no options to turn on subtitles. Naturally as a deaf gamer it left me frustrated and I wanted to do something about it. I was already a Twitch streamer under a different name that was just used for casually gaming with no goals or purposes. Thus, using my streaming experiences and creating DeafGamersTV with a goal to raise deaf awareness through gaming and to share what kind of struggles deaf/hard of hearing gamers can have during gaming when we don’t have properly accessibility options that should’ve been in the game already. I really wanted to try to help changing the gaming industry by trying to speak out to the community in my own way because I strongly believe inclusivity is everything, not a loss hope anymore.

2. What’s been the best personal benefit for you in being active in the #a11y community?

The best benefit that I’m proud of being in the #a11y community is being able to find people with mutual goals to educate on inclusivity. You make so many new friends and even actually talk to people from the game industry who are interested in learning how to do accessibility right the best they can. It’s really amazing and makes me happy to see that we’re not being ignored but there are people out there wanting to try to things more accessible. The more I see of this, the more “voices” I know we have to get our messages out there to start discussions with other communities.

3. What sort of advocacy activities have you done (cons & conferences, educational studio visits, etc.) And/or what do you want to do in the future?

In the past, I’ve done a panel a few times at TwitchCon talking about Streaming with Disabilities along with other streamers with disabilities such as mobility, epilepsy & chronic illness. I’ve also recently done a conference/workshop to chat with a gaming studio on how to understand specific accessibility better, mine specifically would be subtitles because I rely heavily on subtitles to understand information. I want to be able to chat with others whatever if it’s a conferences, events, interviews or anything about this and keep the river flowing because I fear if we stopped, people going to forget quick what was the point on building up accessibility and leaving out people who wanted to be a part of something.

4. What’s one thing you’d like both game devs and gamers to understand about game accessibility?

Empathy. I don’t think devs could ever understand the struggles of a disability without understanding the person behind the frustration of not being accommodated properly. So I always believe it’s important to start a conversation about this and learn what is needed out of necessity and not for convenience.

5. Now the fun part, time to get on your soapbox. (i.e. what is your essential talking point about game accessibility?)

I often point out that we’re no longer in the past where we had limited resources and that we are literally in the future but we’re not taking advantage of it. We want to help each other because we’re not trying to leave people out of the circle, we want to bring them in and let them enjoy the fun with everyone else. Most of the time devs know how to do it so they’d leave it out or just put in minimum efforts into accessibility. This is not right, so let’s work together to make it right. We can do something good by ourselves but we can do something better together.

You can find Chris on Twitter, on Twitch, and on Mixer!

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Co-founder and EIC of Can I Play That?, captioner of many things, occasional writer of fiction. Any pronouns. courtney@caniplaythat.com

Courtney Craven

Co-founder and EIC of Can I Play That?, captioner of many things, occasional writer of fiction. Any pronouns. courtney@caniplaythat.com