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Deaf gamer Danik Soudakoff talks streaming, signing and never giving up

Deaf gamer Danik Soudakoff isn’t just a fan of video games. He also strives to improve the games he loves by making them more accessible for other gamers with hearing loss. 

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.”

Interview with Danik 

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:

HLM: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, and your hearing loss?

Danik: My name is Danik Soudakoff and I’m a 15 year old guy from Riverside, California. I’ve been Deaf since birth. 

 HLM: How did you get into gaming?

 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. 

HLM: What challenges did you face when gaming and how did you overcome them?

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

Read more: Why subtitles are important for deaf gamers

HLM: Do you have any other gamers you look up to? Do you know any other deaf gamers?

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. 

HLM: What other games apart from Overwatch do you play?

Danik: I prefer stimulation games. I play games such as “Sims 4”, “Cities Skylines”, and some VR games such as “Superhot” and “Job Simulator.” 

HLM: Is there any advice you would like to give to future deaf gamers?

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.”

HLM: Do you stream? Do you use sign language when you stream?

Danik: I stream sometimes, and I do use sign language during my streams!

HLM: How did you think of the signs for the Overwatch hEARos?

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. 

HLM: What has your reaction been from the deaf gaming community?

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. 

HLM: Is there a community of deaf gamers that you recommend for other players?

Danik: There are many many different communities for Deaf gamers, most of them are on Facebook!

 

To learn more about Danik’s, you can check out his YouTube channel or connect with him on Twitter.

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!

Aatish Patel
Aatish Patel
Aatish Patel is a 18 year old who loves to try out new things. He has moderately severe bilateral hearing loss who currently wears Phonak Boleros. He is college bound in fall of 2019, an avid gamer and loves learning about the deaf and hard of hearing communities. His blog can be reached at: https://theeartrumpet.wordpress.com.