Enable Gaming is set up to assist gamers with disabilities, mental health needs and people who come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. With working alongside local communities they host small eSport tournaments where everyone is welcome. By showcasing to manufacturers, developers and retailers how difficult it is for some individuals to access gaming, their goal is to make gaming as accessible to as many people as possible across the UK.
When did your passion for gaming first begin?
At a very young age, I used to go over to my uncle’s house to play the comordore 64, my parents then gave in and got me a Sega Mega Drive! That’s when it really kicked off. I even managed to wrangle myself a job in GAME when I was 18 by telling a customer what the selling points were of each console and selling them an Xbox. The manager was like “do you work for me” I replied, “I should”.
What made you first become aware of the inaccessibility of gaming for people with disabilities?
Attending a number of events and being involved in the Gaming Community, you can see the demographics of the audience and participants. It was when I worked in Game that it really started to come to my attention, I was studying Social Sciances and took a keen interest in learning about Community care and inclusion. Speaking to a few members of the public I quickly learned that there was little to no support (at the time) for people with additional needs to get into gaming. Fast Forward 13 years and here we are with Enable Gaming.
What improvements are being thought of to make gaming more accessible?
You have a number of amazing companies out there looking to make gaming more assesible for everyone. From the big companies like Microsoft with their fantastic (but expensive) addaptive controller that you can customise to your specific needs right down to a company called Quadstick who design controllers for quadriplegics. it’s really amazing!
In reference to your E Sports tournaments, are these going to a regular event or take place at one off times?
We aim to host smaller events every month leading up to a national event. Part of our vision is to bring the events to smaller communities where individuals who find it difficult to travel far might be able to come along and socialise with their local gaming communities.
When you’re looking for venues to host your events, what accessibility information do you look for?
This is extremely important to us as a company. We personally visit the venue and do a full walkabout to assess the layout, staff, area etc. We aim to have at least two members of the team attending these walkabouts then run it by the rest of the group to make sure that we didn’t assume anything or miss anything. In Edinbugh it’s pretty difficult to get a venue all on one level due to the age of the buildings and the listed status of most of them. So it’s quite a challange in itself to get and find the right type of venue. We have been very lucky with Codebase which is hosting our event next month.
Do you think having a virtual experience of different places would help in your search for finding an accessible venue for your event?
100% this would be a fantastic tool for us to use, it would save us a lot of time and effort in scoping out a place to make sure it fully fits our customers’ needs. It would also be good to help people when buying our tickets and planning their trip to the event.
Thank you to Robert Flanningan, founder and director of Enable Gaming, for answering our questions.