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15 Minutes of Fame: Disabled player goes hands on with joystick

15 Minutes of Fame is our look at World of Warcraft players of all shapes and sizes – from the renowned to the relatively anonymous, the remarkable to the player next door. Tip us off to players you'd like to hear more about.

Back in October, we posted a way for players with hand dexterity issues to play WoW using a joystick. Inspired by WoW Insider posts about playing WoW with a Wii remote and playing WoW while exercising on a treadmill, reader Aaron Stacey submitted an ingenious script in hopes of helping others with similar disabilities. The keystone of his strategy: GlovePie, a Windows freeware emulator that was originally written for virtual reality gloves. GlovePie allows gamers to play any game with any type of controller, from joysticks to gamepads, mice, keyboards and Wiimotes.

This month, 15 Minutes of Fame swings back around to speak with Aaron and learn more about he combines gaming with a physical disability.

Main characters Rajeh (Hunter), Boxxer (Warrior)
Server Detheroc
WoW player since January 2005
Prior videogame experience Consoles galore
Other games currently playing Team Fortress 2

15 Minutes of Fame: Aaron, tell us about the physical limitations you're working with as a gamer.
Aaron: In February 2005, I had a bicycle accident in which I bruised my spinal cord at c4 or c5 vertebra (neck area, I forget which), which left me with a long-term form of paralysis. I was classified as a quadriplegic, since was unable to move anything below my neck. Since then, with therapy and time, I've regained a lot my functional movement, with the exception of my right hand. I've been able to walk without any assistance for almost a year now, and I've been driving for about four months now. However, I still can't feel a majority of my body, including my hands and legs. That lack of sensation requires me to glance at my keyboard constantly.

Were you originally right- or left-handed?
Right-handed.

And how long have you played video games?
I've been at it since the age of 5, when I was introduced to Duck Hunter on NES back in '89.

So before you created your current setup, tell us about playing WoW with one hand. What things were fairly easy to do? What things were difficult?
At first, things were fairly difficult, but it's really progressed with my physical improvements and figuring out keybinds that work for me, as well as other little tricks I've learned along the way.

We understand that you used to limit yourself to caster classes because there was less demand for character movement. What things or parts of the game did you find to be so difficult to do one-handed that you simply didn't do them?
Movement was basically my only real weak point. It cost me a battle here and there in PvP, or PvE encounters could be a little rough on me, but I don't think it caused a major wipe.

What gave you the idea to try your current setup?
After reading the reading an article on WoW Insider about using treadmills to run in game, I decided to research about the program (GlovePie) that was used.

What exactly does the script and joystick allow you to do, physically, that you couldn't do before?
It allows me to play with both hands and keep more focus on my screen rather than my keyboard.

What new areas or angles of WoW have you gotten into now that you never pursued before?
The melee aspect, mainly.

Since WoW Insider posted your script for other readers, have you discovered any new ideas or made any improvements to your setup?
I had one guy who claimed to be a game developer contact me and say he would work with me on trying to develop the script for others to use, but I haven't heard from him in a while.

Have you run across any other hardware, software, web sites or tips you'd recommend to other gamers with dexterity and character movement issues?
I'm certain there are resources available on the internet, but I'm not really positive on where and what sites. I've come across numerous types of keyboards and other alternative input devices: FrogPad (a one-hand keyboard), Ergodex (modular keyboard), and Jedi mind control.

We understand you were in the Wrath beta. Are you back at it again now that the expansion has launched?
Yes, a killer grind it has been!

What are you playing now? Who's your main and what type of content/game play are you into?
Since the launch of Wrath, I've been in a toss-up of what to play – faction, specifically speaking. As much as I love yelling "For the Horde!", I've settled for playing Alliance since my real-life friends are stubborn and chose not to play Horde. I have a Night Elf Hunter that I'm playing on rested from 70 to 80. In the meantime, I started a Warrior to level for tanking.

Thanks so much for sharing your tips with other readers, Aaron. WoW Insider wishes you continued physical improvements and happy gaming!

Whet your appetite on more 15 Minutes of Fame with interviews of WoW players of every stripe: from players you've probably heard of, players who have their own thing going on, and players just like you!

Filed under: Features, Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame, Hardware

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