Online video streaming services have become widely popular lately, especially in the video game community. Many gamers tune into streams on sites like Twitch to watch competitive gaming in real time.
Unlike other videos published and captioned before hand, streams usually don’t have a live captioning tool, alienating deaf and hard of hearing gamers.
I enjoy Twitch and watching others play games, but I often feel left out, as the commentator and the game itself are sometimes difficult to hear.
A league of Deaf gamers
Competitive gamer Chris Robinson is fighting this issue by starting his own Twitch channel Deaf Gamers TV, according to Kotaku.com. He hopes to build a group of deaf gamers and offer accessible tutorials for those wanting to try competing.
Robinson mentioned the lack of deaf friendly communities and options in the competitive community. The lack of subtitles both in game and in tutorial videos on Youtube is unfortunate, but improvements are being made, he says.
While the majority of gaming competitions do not have live captioning of the hosts’ commentary, some tournaments do feature subtitles. The commentary is often vital to the competition, and without it there’s no way of knowing what is going on.
Not to mention, Youtube’s auto-captioning service is getting slightly better. It has a long way to go, sure, but I’ve noticed an improvement in accuracy.
Robinson’s work is definitely a step in the right direction. I think there’s a great need for more deaf friendly groups in gaming- it’s always nice to have some solidarity.
Streaming services are likely going to become more and more popular as the technology gets better. Although captioning and accessibility seem to be lagging behind, I hope we as deaf gamers can continue to advocate and inspire change.