Earlier this year, his passion for gaming and knowledge of sign language led him to help develop custom signs for game elements, Overwatch characters and their maneuvers, with help from an American Sign Language translator. Sports channel ESPN featured Danik’s story in a video titled Fan Story, “Hand Eye Coordination.”
“…as a Deaf player, I have to look and I have to see,” Danik says with sign language in the ESPN video. “So creating the signs will help other Deaf people play faster and communicate more effectively.”
After being inspired by Danik’s story, we had the opportunity to interview him to learn more about his experience as a Deaf gamer.
Here’s what he said:
Danik: My name is Danik Soudakoff and I’m a 15 year old guy from Riverside, California. I’ve been Deaf since birth.
Danik: I’ve always wanted to find a community, a way to have fun, and something to lose myself inside. I found gaming as a great gateway to escape from reality and have fun.
Danik: Communication is one of the greatest challenges when playing video games, I found a way to maneuver past that challenge through using provided chat or through apps such as Discord.
Danik: I look up to JackSepticEye and Markiplier; they are both YouTubers who posts videos of themselves playing video games and I really enjoy watching them. I also look up to SoOn, a professional Overwatch League Player, He currently plays for Paris Eternal. I don’t really know any Deaf gamers.
Danik: I prefer stimulation games. I play games such as “Sims 4”, “Cities Skylines”, and some VR games such as “Superhot” and “Job Simulator.”
Danik: My best advice is to never give up. Even when you think it’s hard and impossible, there’s always a way around it.
“My best advice is to never give up.”
Danik: I stream sometimes, and I do use sign language during my streams!
Danik: I wanted to communicate effectively with my Deaf friends while playing Overwatch. We started to go off by their appearances and abilities then we started from there.
Danik: I’ve been getting some amazing reactions from other Deaf people in the gaming community. I’ve been recognized at Deaf events few times, and they’re really grateful that I was there to help represent Deaf and hard of hearing gamers.
Danik: There are many many different communities for Deaf gamers, most of them are on Facebook!
Are you a gamer with hearing loss? What have your experiences been? Do you use sign language or caption to communicate when you play or stream? Let us know in the comments!