Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Esports and Equality: Gamers giving the world a real lesson in how to behave

In a world still filled with injustices and inequalities, I believe that, like traditional sports, esports bridges the barriers of race, sex and physical abilities that still plague the world. I realize that this is quite a bold statement to make given the behaviour of an average internet user can be quite unpleasant, but I believe that esports is heading in the right direction to help improve online communities. The basis of my opinion is centered primarily in two events, my online fundraising and a Las Vegas trip, that I've been involved in.

Last year, a few friends of mine made comments about how it would be cool for people to see how I play because of how unique it is. They were of the opinion that I could get quite a lot of viewers if I did it, and so, I decided that I would try it out. I decided that instead of streaming for myself, I would try to do an online fundraiser to help Muscular Dystrophy Canada provide support for kids and adults who have neuromuscular conditions. Additionally, I wanted to raise awareness for disabled gamers since I knew quite a few. While I knew this fundraiser was going to be successful no matter what, I was astonished by the publicity and support I received from the online communities. In fact, a number of big named professional players from many games promoted my stream, and in part, it was so successful thanks to the support from the esports community. The second event that helps form my opinion is from meeting people involved in esports.

Thanks to my fundraising and streaming, I've been able to meet a number of awesome gamers, and my recent trip to Las Vegas, firmly instilled my faith in esports as a tool for bringing people together. I went to Las Vegas for IPL6, but unfortunately, the event was cancelled. Due to a number of factors, I decided that I would still go on the trip and enjoy myself. A big part of my trip was getting to meet and hang with Optimus Tom, MissTeak, and Glyceroll. I wasn't really sure what to expect when I met up with them because as a guy with a disability, I've seen people reaction or handle it quite differently. Most people at first are a bit careful and stand off-ish till they get used to the wheelchair and such, but this wasn't the case when I met up with these 3. Honestly, I was shocked by how normal they acted around me from the very start. Typically, a person is only this comfortable from the start if they have prior experience with wheelchairs and such, so I was pleasantly surprised. To be quite honest, their acceptance and understanding is what made the weekend just that much more enjoyable. This kind of reaction is exactly the kind of bridging barriers that I'm talking about, and I believe that esports is a huge part of why this is possible.

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