Main character Azraela, night elf restoration druid
Guild Knights Who Say Ni
Realm Quel'Dorei (US-Alliance)
WoW Insider: I know you're not one to talk endlessly about yourself, but can we share with readers what sort of disabilities are you playing WoW with, Short?
Short/Azraela: I have a type of muscular dystrophy called spinal muscular atrophy. It basically means my muscles are super weak and get weaker over time. When StarCraft 1 came out, I was playing with a mouse and keyboard; since WoW: BC, I've downgraded to mouse only. I keep both hands at my mouse and left-click with my left hand and right-click with my right hand.
So you've been playing WoW quite some time ...
Yes, I started March 30, 2007.
What inspired you to lead your own guild?
I would love to say it was for some grand inspirational reason, but honestly I was just a complete noob. LOL My brother, my boyfriend at the time, and I all started playing at the same time. I needed a way to chat with both at once, so Ni was born.
It actually grew because the community was unbelievable. People went from strangers to feeling like family. We're really casual [and] therefore were looked down on by bigger, elitist guilds, but the moments of triumph always made me feel like I was doing what I needed to be. We worked so hard and got the Realm First Level 25 Guild achievement.
I've watched 12-year-old kids grow into college students, college kids get married and have kids, celebrated guildies becoming parents and grandparents, and, sadly, we've mourned the death of one of our beloved officers. I started leading because of convenience but am inspired to keep leading because of the people.So the guild isn't specifically oriented for disabled gamers?
Our guild has always just been a guild for anyone. No one even knew I was disabled until Wrath of the Lich King
. Over the years as people joined and raided, more came to me with "problems" they were having: "I can't use Vent ... I'm deaf because of a Desert Storm injury," "I can't see this mechanic well; I'm colorblind."' People have came forward out of necessity.What in your experience are the aspects of the game that players with various disabilities struggle with the most?
So far I think the most common complaint for anyone with mobility issues are the jumps that need to be made quickly -- Nefarion in Blackwing Descent and the jumps for the Isle of Thunder daily! Raiding the Vault. Firelands was a nightmare for our tank, who is colorblind also.Are there things you think would be reasonably practical for Blizzard to implement that could be a significant help to disabled players?
Overall, World of Warcraft
has been the most accessible MMO I have played. They allow addons, keybinding, click to walk, and autofollow, They even added MovePad and really precise colorblind settings. They really need to give themselves a pat on the back.
If I were adding features or fine tuning things, though, I would like to see buttons added to Move Pad to rotate your character. Another feature would be an overseer-type raid role. A raid leader's sole job could be overseeing mechanics and calling changes in strategy in real time, which could definitely help raid leaders adapt strategies to optimize gameplay for anyone struggling. An official forum for people to go to with accessibility-type questions would be amazing too.So what have you done to make the guild a suitable home for disabled gamers of various stripes?
We adapt. We don't exclude people just to do things the "right way." I have guildies that let me ride with them/follow them through raids with long runs, and they rez me after wipes so I can rest my hands between pulls. Our colorblind guildie is assigned to tank targets that don't have mechanics that are hard for him see, and he uses the GTFO addon. Our guildie who can't use Vent is assigned someone to type instructions given on Vent to her during raids, and we usually communicate in guild chat rather than Vent when no raids or parties are formed.Other disabled players such as Quadilious have certainly created their own resource sites for fellow disabled gamers. What inspired your own efforts?Quadilious
actually planted the seed. I read the article and thought "Yes! A site to compare the strategies I'm using with." So I kept checking his page but couldn't find updates.
Then during Cata
I was talking to a guildie, Crazyknight, about how I wish there was a website not only for boss strategies but all the little tricks I learned on my own over the years. He said "Do it!" and kept encouraging me. I toyed with it but never could think of a name. This year it hit me: Ability Powered.
I set up a website, social media and a YouTube channel. I was really uncomfortable making YouTube videos at first because of my voice, but I'm friends with Griff from Slightly Impressive. His advice to anyone starting is to just go for it and ignore negative comments. So I backed my ears and tried.You've certainly loaded up the full online and social media experience.
When I started Ability Powered, I set up YouTube
, and AbilityPowered.com
On YouTube, I post how-to tip videos for anyone who may have mobility issues in Azeroth. With Facebook and Twitter, I post updates on current content I'm posting, communicate more one on one with the community, or get opinions on what to do next. The website is behind since it is actually so time-consuming for me to type, although it's definitely a resource I would like to use more.
I plan on using Twitch Nov. 2 to participate in the Extra Life gaming marathon
. I'll be gaming 25 hours for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. I plan on streaming it on Twitch if I reach my fundraising goal.That's a lot to keep up with! What are your plans for maintaining and developing all these resources as time goes on?
I actually just started a few months ago, and I decided to try to do one video a week and just see how the response was. The response was unbelievable. People were so encouraging, and I got private messages from people thanking me for posting about Move Pad and options they didn't know existed.
After reading the messages and comments, I definitely plan on getting as much content out to players it might help as quickly as I can. I would love to see Ability Powered grow. I'm already posting more videos as rapidly as I can.A great idea -– it's obvious you have a lot of energy and passion for these things. What do you do, Short, when you're not playing WoW?
Usually I'm editing or recording game footage or testing out accessibility in different games. I was surprisingly one of the fansites chosen to beta Hearthstone
, so I've been pretty hooked on it.
If I'm not working or gaming at all, as bad as I hate to admit it, my 35-year-old self is usually feeding a DisneyWorld craving. It's way too expensive for me to go often, but just watching YouTube videos and reading trip reports is a way to relax and relive the magic. It's a lot like the Ability Powered state of mind: You have to use your imagination sometimes, don't give up and really believe -- then you can accomplish anything.
"I never thought of playing
WoW like that!" -- and neither did we, until we talked with
Game of Thrones' Hodor (Kristian Nairn) or a 70-year-old grandma who tops her raid's DPS charts as its legendary-wielding GM. Send your nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org.