Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Half-Life 2: "So, it's 100% deaf gamer friendly..."

I've been a gamer since Pong which happily debuted around the same time I was developing physical dexterity and learning to work my opposable thumbs. My youth was wasted on Asteroids and Space Invaders, Frogger and Ms. Pac-Man, and I certainly didn't stop gaming just because I grew up and got a job. I moved on to PC games and have devoured them voraciously ever since. Well, that is, until I went deaf, when my favoured genre (adventure/strategy) was made near-impossible by the absence of necessary audio cues. I'd wander, whistling, into territory crackling with enemy radio chatter, rumbling with ominous growling or positively whiffling with aliens.

Imagine my delight when my gamer Sis told me that the new addition to my favourite game franchise, Half-Life 2, had been specifically designed to include features to allow deaf gamers to play! It went to the top of my Christmas list and sure enough, dear Husband made sure Santa put it under the tree. I've spent every precious free minute of time between then and now playing it, and I'm floored. I'm not the only one. In expressing my opinion I could not improve upon this review at Deaf Gamers website (yes, there is one - surprised? I was):

"...Half-Life 2 is a glowing example of how games can be made deaf gamer friendly and I would be hard pushed to recall a game where the developers had obviously gone out of their way to accommodate the deaf community. You have the option of enabling subtitles and the subtitles are extensive... Valve have also taken it a step further and included captions which will show text descriptions of all the important noises. Valve deserve all the praise they can get for making Half-Life 2 as deaf gamer friendly as possible...this is a superb effort by Valve...I hope that other developers take note of this aspect of Half-Life 2 as well as its graphics and technical qualities."

From your mouth to God's ears. If anyone needs to safely blow off a little steam once in a while, it's we the "different".



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