Alrighty, now that we’re through with the introductions, let’s talk about the transition from the vast virtual worlds created by the endless strings of ‘ones’ and ‘zeroes’ that come alive in our display screens, to something much simpler and older: cardboard.
Since this topic ended up being a bit long, I decided to split it into two parts:
Part 1 - Why I had to stop playing video games
In this first part, I will talk about how RP has affected the video games I could play. As time passed, the number of games dwindled, but there was a point in time where I could play anything and everything out there.
Video games have played a huge part for my development as a person from early childhood to my late teens. Thanks to them, I learned the English language, improved my critical thinking, and met lots of people all around the world.
My dad owned an internet club for eight years (2000-2008), and I spent most of my middle school and high school years there. In the first 4 years (2000-2004), when online gaming was pretty much impossible in Macedonia due to slow internet speeds, it was all about LAN gaming (Local Area Network). You would sit in the same room with several other friends, either trying to come up with a strategy to beat the opposing team or simply trash talking each other.
My city had a few internet clubs, and most of them had at least a couple Counter-Strike clans. We had one too, and just remembering the days when we would wake up early during summer to practice our tactics before the club was open to customers, puts a smile on my face. That feeling of going to an ‘away’ match at another club and beating our opponents was exhilarating,
Thinking back now, I understand that my RP (retinitis pigmentosa), had slowly started to kill my peripheral vision. If you have ever played Counter-Strike, you’ll know that when one player kills another player, you see their nicknames in the top right corner of the screen. I always felt the need to move my head to directly look at the corner to see the information. Interestingly my friends noticed that and asked me a few times why I have to look directly there instead of reading the text from the corner of my eye, while keeping my eyes focused on the crosshair in the center.
Regardless of that minor lack of peripheral vision, it was around this time when I was at my peak. I could pick up and play any game I wanted.
The thing with RP is, it can be very slow, eating away your visual field from the outside towards the center. Therefore, you will start noticing it when you have lost a huge chunk of the field. “Wait a minute, I could see that vase while watching TV, and now I can’t.”, but unless the doctor tells you anything, you just move on.
In my late teens and early twenties, I began realizing I was struggling more with games. Even though I had drastically reduced my game time after finishing high school and starting university, I still played some single player games few hours a week. So, I would wonder whether my reaction times kicked the bucket due to less playtime. I remember one night, while I was playing God of War 3, my dad was having dinner. I would keep dying and reloading the game over and over again, until he called for my brother: “Alpay, please take the controller because whenever I look at the screen I see ‘You are dead’; I can’t take it anymore.”
As time passed, I started struggling with seeing in dark places. Even after cranking up the brightness of the monitor, I still couldn’t see well, hence I would bother my brother to help me navigate through a dark area in the game. Because of this issue, I abandoned The Last of Us, it simply became a frustration rather tan entertainment.
As RP was ravaging my retina (and now I was diagnosed and knew what was happening to my eyes), the number of games I could play (while enjoying them) diminished to a handful. So, I just stopped playing altogether. I still follow video games news to this day, just like I did before, but I don’t play them anymore. After some time, I finally found a replacement to scratch this gaming itch of mine, Board Games.
The Physical Replacement
Video games are something virtual, untouchable. Cardboard, plastic, and wood, however, are very touchable. What can you make out of those materials? Board Games, of course! Now, as a visually impaired person, you are still limited to which games you can play properly, however there’s many games in the wild that we can play without having to rely on our sight.
Stay tuned for the second part of this post where I will give a brief overview on the different games that are available today and the modernization of board games since Monopoly.
Until next time!