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Dyslexic Gamers: How does the experience change for them?


There are many gamers that have physical, audio or visual problems, wherever if they are deaf, color blind people or even blind, they still enjoy video games, no matter their deficit. But what about dyslexic people? How does the experience of gaming change for them because of their discrepancy?

First of all, I think that everyone knows what does this term mean. Still, Dyslexia is a problem that makes the child have reading problems, it doesn't mean that he/she can't read, they just learn slowly and needs a specialist for this problem. This anomaly is neurological , so there is no sensory or physical problems, so even high gifted intellectual people born with it. There are many hereditary factors of why this problem is caused; although it isn't known if it is genetic, cerebral injury, emotional problems, orientation problems or difficulties on pregnancy or at the moment of birth.

Many think that dyslexia is not a major problem, but I disagree. Dyslexia can affect a lot anyone that has this problem, it can change his/her life and any career that one may choose. There was even speculation that it's more of a myth than a real learning problem, but many studies have proven that this problem is the real deal, and differences from other kids. For that study just look out the name John Everatt.

So how does all this affect for anyone that has dyslexic and enjoy gaming? Just keep reading.

First of all, imagine that you are a dyslexic person who is trying to read something, it would look something like this:

Or like this:

Well, you get the idea. Still, the games that someone with dyslexia would have problem to play, are story driven games, like RPG's and most adventure games. There are other of course, let's check them out.

For a dyslexic person, playing a RPG would probably be a living hell. All of them are story driven and require full attention by reading and knowing the story which would be really difficult for that person. Of course he/she would get frustrated since a RPG the gameplay is not the strong point of most RPG's and they would get bored pretty easily. Many would say that they could play a RPG, but it wouldn't make any sense, and they would get bored by just focusing on the gameplay. Not just that, the gameplay it self requires essential reading, since you have to know which is Attack and which one is for Magic. But since dyslexia just causes the reader to learn more slowly, they can learn the rules of the game, but there is another problem, which is the Menu system. Now, there are a lot of customization done for every character, whatever if it is equipments, magic or other stuff that would help for the quest. Those type of customization would give a hard time for that person, since it requires more than just basic reading.

It's a shame that many people can't play RPG's like Chrono Trigger.

Speaking of Menus, let's take another look where it's essential. Most of metroidvania style of games are great for dyslexic persons to play, because you are most worried about your surroundings and what to do next than anything else, like in Super Metroid. There is a series where it's kinda different, and it's not because of story telling, but because as said before, of the Menu system where it is used constantly, and that series is Castlevania. In most of the metroidvania style of games from this vampire killing series is that you will use the menu constantly, whatever if it is to change relics, equipments, or simply to change the options. Of course they can just guess what every item or spell do, but still it would be kinda difficult to know which item is which. But then again, with practice and reading it again and again, they will get use to it.

This would be kinda frustrating if it's difficult to read it.

There are other types of games that could get really difficult for a dyslexic person to enjoy, like brainteasers, for example Big Brain or Brain Age. OK, first of all, the games such as Brian Age not only requires reading, but also writing, which is kinda related with dyslexia, in fact, many times the problem of having writing issues has been linked with dyslexia. Now it is known as Dysgraphia. Although, dyslexia and dysgraphia are closely related. With that said, games like Brain Age would be another big frustration for a dyslexic reader. But here is something interesting, although it can be hard for them these type of games, they could help them practicing the reading since you can taker your time to decipher the teasers. But then again, if someone also has dysgraphia this would be really hard, since most of the questions are written down on the DS, and since writing down is already frustrating, it's not such a good idea to give this type of game for them.

If it wasn't already frustrating to write down on the DS, imagine someone with dyslexia/dysgraphia.

With that said, most of other games are enjoyable for them, specially ones that doesn't need for a storytelling or need to read that much..still, one question must be answered:

Is there someway that a dyslexic person can enjoy a good storytelling from a game?

While yes, there is actually. You see, this idea on writing about dyslexic persons trying to enjoy gaming and how different it could be for them was inspired from a Thai gamer/otaku that I met the other day who suffers dyslexia, and we talked a bit how this reading problem has affected him in his passions. He happens to be a big Metal Gear Solid fan, and it's one of the perfect examples that I will use for great storytelling that most can enjoy.

Let's take a look at this series how it works, OK? Besides it's fun to play mechanism about sneaking, it also has one of the most exciting and at the same time twisted storyline that this series offer. So how can they enjoy the story? Simply, thanks to the exceptional voice acting that the series is also well known for, and it's used to every line of the script, even on tiny ones. The other good thing is that the games have voice acting and subtitles, which helps a lot to practice reading, at the same time being interested in something that may one like. When he mentioned about this series, he also talked about Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, since he couldn't enjoy it as he hoped to. The main problem is that the game has a different approach than the others entires of the series. It has more customization like choosing soldiers, weapons and trying to read the missions and the codec conversations, since it didn't offer voice acting, just because of space capacity of the UMD.

I also talked if he had played other games that could have great storyline, good acting and fun gameplay, and he didn't know anything else. I had to tell him about the Half Life series, specially Half Life 2. I explained him that besides creating a great physics and a friendly approach gameplay, it has one of the most memorable stories/endings and characters. Not only that, but it also has a great voice acting that demonstrates many emotions from the gamer, specially because of Alyx. Dyslexic gamers would enjoy this game

As you can see, thanks to the rapid evolution of gaming, voice acting can help a lot besides creating the ambiance for the story, it helps to people with reading problems to stay focused and entertained in the story, besides the actual gameplay. Even RPG's are getting voice acting, as in Final Fantasy XII, but the customization problem is still there. Other great examples are Bioshock and Portal, which immerses anyone with their storytelling.

In the future, I would love to see more voice acting in games that has a great story, it would help more dyslexic to enjoy games besides than just getting to control and having fun. That's why gaming is here, they are here to entertain, to makes us dive in this ocean full of great stories or just to have a blast playing, and I hope that everyone can do that, no matter what kind of illness one can have.
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About Passionate Styosone of us since 8:30 AM on 02.29.2008

Tigers, I wuv them as much as Chad loves his dolphins.

Well hello there! My name is Styos and I'm a Chilean who studies and work in Norway, I'm 21 years old and have been a gamer since..well..since I was a kid. I'm studying to become a English Teacher and I can tell ya, I love English.

Franchises that I love:
Castlevania, Metal Gear, Contra, most Hack 'n Slash games (Dynasty Warriors, Devil May Cry, Onimusha, God of War, you name it.), Mega Man, Metroid, The Ace Attorney Series, Sam & Max, The Legend of Zelda, Soul Calibur, Ninja Gaiden and many, many more.

Favorite game of all time:
Castlevania Symphony of the Night.

Consoles that I own or had own before:
NES, SNES, Game Boy, Virtual Boy, GB Color, GB Advance, NDS, Sega Genesis, PS2, PSP and in the works to get a Dreamcast and X-Box 360.

Retro Quiz Medals:

Silver: Quiz #25 - Ninja Gaiden

The GHost, the card is just fucking amazing, thank you so much!:

Also, Snu Snu: