A veteran who lost both eyes in the Iraq war has mastered the computer game “World of Warcraft” thanks to the help of a fellow player who acts as his personal “guide dog,” according to World of Warcraft Insider.
Ben Shaw lost his vision in 2008 when a roadside bomb exploded in Basra, Iraq. But the soldier promised never to let his blindness hold him back from following his passions, including learning to drive a race car, then vowing to conquer “World of Warcraft.”
That’s when Shaw met a fellow Scotsman named Owen, who stepped in to guide his character through the game’s virtual landscape, Good.is reported.
In an interview with World of Warcraft Insider, Owen explained that he was excited to take on the challenge of guiding Shaw and explained the team’s dynamic.
“My role to Ben is that I play as his in-game eyes, using the follow function put into a macro he can tab through the group and target and follow me,” Owen said in the interview. “Every encounter, Ben is using a series of macros (e.g., target of target) to play his way through the game. Everything from boss fights to a simple repair goes through me.”
But the benefits of the partnership flow in both directions. Shaw’s inventiveness and good sportsmanship make him an ideal player, Owen explained.
“I have to say from my point of view that without Ben hot on my tail, I would just be lost in a raid. Everything I have accomplished and us as a guild, Ben has been there for it,” Owen told World of Warcraft Insider.
Ben Shaw isn’t the only vision-impaired player who has learned to conquer video games. In April 2011, Wired.com reported that Terry Garrett, an engineering student at the University of Colorado who lost his vision at the age of 10, had learned to beat the Nintendo 64 game “Oddworld: Abe’s Odyssey” by memorizing sound queues like footsteps, voices and music.
For other blind gamers, however, a game’s soundtrack alone may not be enough to navigate complex levels and landscapes.
When Roy Williams of Camden, South Carolina, learned that he may become blind, he and two other fans of “The Legend of Zelda” embarked on a project to transcribe the game’s every move into a script which the computer could then read aloud to vision-impaired players.
“I’m glad everyone can see and learn from this that just because a person has a disability doesn’t mean they can’t do a normal thing, like play a video game,” Williams told WISTV 10. “I’m glad everyone can see and learn from this that just because a person has a disability doesn’t mean they can’t do a normal thing, like play a video game.”