Games in Science and Technology

About The Able Gamer

The Able Gamer LogoAs far back as I can remember I've had to adapt myself to video game controllers. In the 1980s it was arcade machines and the Atari 2600 joystick. I'd have to play with my arms crossed so that I could use my good hand on the control stick.

Later on, the Nintendo 64 controller almost made me cry. It was so awkward to hold, had so many buttons and that darn analog stick to deal with. Watching Mario or Link die every time my friend handed me the controller was almost enough to make me quit gaming altogether.

Then one day I realized that GoldenEye: 007 effectively let me play "left-handed" by using my good hand on the control stick and trigger. I was able to get through the single player campaign and compete with my friends in multiplayer games. That title single-handedly saved gaming for me. Rare still holds a special place in my heart for having mapped button functions to the controller's d-pad. More...


I eventually trained the thumb on my "bad" hand to use an analog control stick, though the PlayStation's dual shoulder button layout still gave me a very hard time, and to this day I have difficulty using more than one function on the left side of a controller at once. I had to skip the entire Metroid Prime series because it requires using the GameCube's L-trigger and control stick at the same time to aim.

It was during that console generation about five years ago that life changing complications arose from my condition. I had a stroke when I was was born and got Spastic Hemiparesis, a mild Cerebral Palsy that makes the muscles on the left side of my body both weak and stiff at the same time. I also have limited control of my left hand, making it a bit difficult to operate a game controller or handheld. On a good day, it functions at about 50% the capacity of my right.

For the first 25 or so years of my life, I vastly ignored my palsy though. I was always a bit smaller and slower than my peers, but it never bothered me that much at all. Aside from walking with a limp and some embarrassing drooling incidents, I was pretty normal and learned to adapt quite well.

As I got older though, I found it tougher to deal with the constant crushing pressure my body was putting on itself. Over the years, I developed back problems, severe arthritic pain and neck problems leading to nerve damage in my arms and legs. Reluctantly, I had to quit working, as the pain became so overwhelming some days that I could barely get out of bed.

After this, I gradually turned to video games to pass the days while my loving and supportive partner was at work. I also started spending a lot more time reading about gaming news around the Web. I found myself becoming increasingly analytical of what I was playing and decided to write reviews. Seeing that people were actually reading them and giving me positive feedback, I realized I had found my new calling.

I started The Able Gamer because in all the time that I spent reading gaming coverage, I never saw coverage that would take people with disabilities or medical conditions into account. I also encountered more than a few gamers in my message board rounds that "thought they were the only ones" gaming with a disability.

My main goal is to provide daily news, rumours, previews and reviews from the gaming world. What I hope will set The Able Gamer apart from other gaming sites is that I will always keep disabilities and medical conditions in mind when reporting news or reviewing hardware. I'll let you know whether a game requires two fully working hands, is likely to induce a seizure or has small text that may be difficult to read.

Health issues related to, or involving video games will also be a focus around here. There are retail games and independent software that can have real physical or psychological benefits to people. There are also people in hospitals, clinics and schools using gaming and gaming related technology to help and teach patients and students, as well as their families.

I also plan to cover and review games & stories generally ignored by the mainstream media. Casual, budget and family-friendly games are becoming a large part of the release list, yet they are often dismissed as shovelware without a second glance, let alone a review from larger media outlets. The fact is that these titles are competing for your money as hard as the latest big budget blockbuster shooting game, and consumers leaning towards games they can play with their child or grandmother as well as those on a budget also have a right to be informed.

Hopefully gamers with disabilities or medical conditions, their families and friends will find The Able Gamer to be a useful resource once we get going. If even one dad can find a game to play with his autistic son, a deaf gamer can find a title that really is fully subtitled, a physically disabled gamer can find someone of a similar skill level to play with online, or someone suffering from depression can find someone to reach out to, then all the time and effort that I put into this project will be worth while.

My name is Brian, and I am The Able Gamer.

Editorial Note: The Able Gamer existed between January 2008 and January 2009. This article is meant to chronicle the history of our current website and establish a timeline for its creation. The Able Gamer was not authorized by, associated with or sponsored by AbleGamers Foundation, Inc. or its website AbleGamers.com. When we were notified that AbleGamers existed, we opted to re-brand ourselves as Game Forward in order to avoid potential confusion. If you reached this page in error and were looking for AbleGamers, please click here.