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15 Minutes of Fame: Quadriplegic player attacks progression raiding

15 Minutes of Fame is WoW.com's 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.

Tales of players who succeed at WoW despite disabilities (physical disabilities, mental issues, you name it) always attract a certain amount of fascination. How is it that we can spend so much worry and effort grinding trivial hurdles while disabled players are taking care of business in situations that would Alt+F4 most of us? Worry is one thing you won't hear much of from Quadilious, a quadriplegic player (yes, quadriplegic -- you read that correctly) who's into progression raiding (yes, progression raiding -- you're still reading things correctly) in ToC-25 Heroic and Ulduar hard modes.

Ever have one of those days when you wish your in-game struggles and real-life hurdles seemed a little less daunting? Have a good dose of perspective -- Quad certainly does.

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Filed under: Features, Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

15 Minutes of Fame: The two shall be as one

15 Minutes of Fame is WoW.com's 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.

There are couples who play together, and there are couples who play together. Jen and Mike, members of <The Panic Attacks> on Scilla-US, fall into the latter category - so much so that perhaps their playstyle doesn't accurately qualify as "playing together" at all. More accurately, Jen and Mike play as one, sharing the controls to seamlessly guide their mutual character, FertZane, through Ulduar and all the rest of WoW's endgame content.

A rare disability called arthrogryposis keeps Jen wheelchair-bound and binds the couple's gaming together. The congenital disorder causes joint contractures, muscle weakness and fibrosis and leaves Jen with quite limited use of her arms and legs. Nonetheless, she says she's always loved video games because it was something she could enjoy as long as she could manage the controller. "For using my computer, I use a pen in my mouth to type and trackball mouse that I can hold in my lap," she says. "This makes computer gaming a lot more challenging for me, since I cannot look at the monitor while using the keyboard - but a mouse just can't always do everything that needs to be done."

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Filed under: Features, Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

Visually impaired players: The unseen inhabitants of Azeroth

The other night I was chatting to a friend of mine on Skype and she casually mentioned -- because she knows I play WoW -- that she was about to roll a character (Elfly) for the first time. Elfly had had an account for a while but had never been able to try it out while at university and now she has the whole summer stretching out in front of her. Yes, I suspect you know where this going, especially when she twittered a few hours later expressing her new-found love for Azeroth.

But there's a catch. Like me, Elfly is disabled. I'm a VIP (disabled shorthand for visually impaired person) and she's (in her own words) a blindy (shorthand for, well, a blind person). This means we play with our noses touching the screen and get lost. A lot. To give you an example for what the world (in-game or real) is like for me, nip to your nearest Azerothian tavern and quaff flagons of mead until you get completely smashed and the screen goes all blurry, alternatively just click here. Anyway, between the pair of us, we're so blind that we both think Blizzard should insert white canes and guide dogs in patch 3.3's game files. Though, given the game setting, maybe that should be an ornate white staff of sightlessness and a guide wolf?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Blizzard, Add-Ons, Features

15 Minutes of Fame: Dislocated but not disconnected, Part 2

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.

Last week, we met Lileya of Lightbringer-EU, who has a rare, lifelong condition that causes her joints dislocate at the drop of a pin. Stacking up a Lifebloom roll can literally dislocate a finger or her wrist. "I get up in the morning, and the first thing we do is check to make sure that all my joints are in place -- which they rarely are," she recounts. "I need help sitting up, and the first thing my husband says when I put my feet on the ground is 'Slowly, let's not dislocate those ankles standing up.' Each day is different but the same."

What keeps Lileya at the keyboard despite these seemingly insurmountable challenges? We visited with Lileya to explore how her love of end-game raiding and her struggle to balance a precarious collection of symptoms and physical challenges keeps her connected to WoW and to life. This week, Part 2 of our interview with this determined player.

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Filed under: Virtual selves, Features, Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

15 Minutes of Fame: Dislocated but not disconnected

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.

We've written about disabled gamers before, but Lileya of Lightbringer-EU brings a perspective to playing WoW that we haven't heard. Lileya's disability is a rare, lifelong condition that makes even the simplest tasks impossible some days. From her ankles to her knees, from her fingers to her shoulders, Lileya's joints dislocate at the drop of a pin. Even stacking up a Lifebloom roll can dislocate her wrist. "I don't have all that much in common with Aaron who has recovered enough that he can walk without assistance and drive, or Kalzedhan who plays for 12 to 14 hours a day, or Catten," she muses. "I have a rare genetic disorder that I have never lived without. My life is very different from theirs."

Lileya's relentlessly frank, articulate blog, In the Fringes, exposes what it's like to live with the horrifying prospect of keeping track of all your joints on a minute-by-minute basis. We visited with Lileya for a two-part interview exploring how her love of end-game raiding and her struggle to balance a precarious collection of symptoms and physical challenges keeps her connected to WoW and to life.

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Filed under: Virtual selves, Features, Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

AbleGamer talks to Blizz about 3.1 accessibility

AbleGamers has a conversation with Jeff Kaplan about the upcoming accessibility changes to the game in patch 3.1. We saw in the patch notes already that there would be a new colorblind mode added to the game, but Kaplan goes into more detail here -- Blizzard is making sure that even when the interface depends on color to get information across (as in, how difficult your quests are or whether you'll get a skill point from making a crafting recipe or not), there will be other text and symbols in there that relay that information without color.

Unfortunately, while the changes that are going in the game will be helpful. AbleGamers points out that the game isn't perfect for those with colorblindness yet -- mob levels are often shown to the player in a certain color, and there's no option yet for players to see that information in any other format. Additionally, Rogue combo points are shown by filing those little circles in with colors, and colorblind players who aren't able to see that color will have difficulty with that mechanic as well.

The good news is that, while Blizzard does want to make sure their core game is as accessible as possible, there's lots of room for addon authors to do more. Colorblindness is surprisingly prevalent, and everything coders can do to make the game easier to play will be welcomed by those who need it.

Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard

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.

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

15 Minutes of Fame: Tanking with a panic button

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.

It's always fun to indulge in WoW talk with fellow players, but our favorite interviews for 15 Minutes of Fame happen with people for whom WoW opens doors – whether as fun and frothy as indulging another hobby by crafting a replica of Booty Bay entirely out of Legos or as meaningful as being able to game in a non-threatening, non-judgmental atmosphere among like-minded friends.

This week's featured player exemplifies the power of WoW to energize and empower people's lives. MMOs can make wonderful outlets for disabled players, who find online camaraderie and 24-hour access amenable to their unique needs. Kalzedhan Hurenfal of Feathermoon-A US not only games "around" his limitations but in fact focuses his crosshairs dead on them: he's a tank with a diagnosed panic disorder.

Kalzedhan suffers from a handful of debilitating mental disorders that keep him socially paralyzed, homebound and unable to function in a productive work environment. Yet through WoW, Kalzedhan not only has been able to re-engage in relationships and personal achievements – he does it in the hotseat as a tanking Warrior.

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

How to play WoW with a joystick

Reader Aaron Stacey wrote to tell us about a simple new script he's developed that allows him to play WoW more fluidly, despite having little fine dexterity control in his right hand. Since a spinal cord injury, he is only able to grasp and release his hand. Prior to developing this script, Aaron used to play only with his left hand using "an abundance of key binds and keyboard/mouse switching." He was restricted to caster classes because of the difficulty in moving and attacking at the same time.

Inspired by our Wii remote post and our treadmill post, Aaron came up with an ingenious idea that he hopes will help others with similar disabilities. The key is GlovePie, a piece of Windows freeware (donations welcome) originally written for virtual reality gloves, which allows you to play any game using any type of controller you like. GlovePie's website lists controllers like joysticks, gamepads, mice, keyboards, and Wiimotes, among a host of other hardware.

Find out how to do it yourself after the break.

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Filed under: Tricks, How-tos, Fan stuff

Blizzard and the hidden population of disabled players

A Dwarf Priest has a nice long post up about the relationship between Blizzard and one of the more hidden (and yet surprisingly large) groups within their population: disabled gamers. It's no secret to anyone who's played WoW for a while that a lot of disabled gamers have found a lot of solace in a social game where you can be almost completely anonymous and play a character at whatever pace you want to play. Even if you go with the lowest of estimations, there are about 525,000 people playing the game with some kind of disability in real life. That's a much bigger number than I expected, and it's a significant number of people paying Blizzard every month.

Fortunately, Dwarf Priest found that accessibility is relatively good in Blizzard's game -- most of the work is actually done with third-party addons, but the UI and display is so customizable that even with the default interface, many people without a full range of controls or movement can figure out how to play the game. For their part, Blizzard has agreed that a customizable UI is the best way to make a game accessible -- J. Allen Brack says that's a priority in this interview with Able Gamers.

Dwarf Priest has lots more, including a quick comparison with accessibility in Warhammer Online, and even a weird wrinkle in the Glider lawsuit (the botting program's creators are apparently claiming it helps disabled players play their characters). It's a very well-written post about a subject that doesn't get covered much, and there's lots of extra reading to dig into at the bottom as well.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, News items, Add-Ons

15 Minutes of Fame: Disabled mom finds outlet in WoW

15 Minutes of Fame is our look at World of Warcraft players of all shapes and sizes – both the renowned and the relatively anonymous. Tip us off to players you'd like to hear more about at 15minutesoffame (at) wowinsider (dot) com.

World of Warcraft players: hordes of pimply, unsupervised pre-adolescents sprinkled liberally with socially backward, Cheetos-chomping basement-dwellers? Forty-eight-year-old Catten of Quel'dorei knows better. Frequently confined to her bed with fibromyalgia, a debilitating condition that causes pain and fatigue, Catten's world opens up when she logs in. This relative newcomer to gaming escapes her physical challenges in The Outland, sharing raiding, world-wide friendships and a warm relationship with her grown son (and guildmate) Bigkountry.

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Filed under: Features, Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

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