February 3, 2023

Having a chronic pain disorder has affected my ability to play games in ways I never thought possible. Pressing buttons quickly makes my hands cramp. If I use my mechanical keyboard I can get repetitive strain injuries and have to use wrist splints for weeks to recover. Gaming is a big part of my life, as a game journalist and Twitch streamer. However, it can be harmful to my health and I have to be careful about the games I play, the choices I make and the equipment I use so that I have the safest and most comfortable experience possible.

This wasn’t a problem for me a few years ago, but I was recently diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I’ve felt the full effects when playing MMORPGs. From being able to spam buttons smoothly when playing tanks in World of Warcraft to suddenly getting exhausted at the tiniest of rotations, I’ve had to carefully consider my lessons and what’s easiest and most accessible for me.

Let’s talk about World of Warcraft first. This was my introduction to MMOs, and it was also my introduction to finding my comfort level – and knowing when to quit. One thing I really admire about WoW that many other MMOs don’t allow is the ability to play on a touchpad. I actually adapted to this style of play from the start due to poverty and no access to a desk, instead playing WoW on a laptop in my bed. Granted, it’s not the best setup, but it worked for me. That’s how I fell in love with the game and I haven’t stopped since.

Final Fantasy 14 Patch 6.2 – Buried Memory

(Perhaps I would be better at the game if I could also play with a mouse? Probably. I’ve tried my hardest to incorporate a mouse into my playstyle, but I find it confusing and stressful, and it gives just didn’t give me the comfort level that using a touch pad gives me this is also because i am left handed and have played with the directional keys for movement in every game since i was a kid it also adjusted my pain levels as all the keys i had to press, were close together.)

This year I finally took the plunge and tried a new MMO. Final Fantasy 14. All my friends played it, and honestly I felt the fear of missing out. This game has been an absolute game changer for accessibility and my needs as a player with a chronic pain disorder. When I first started, the mouse and keyboard options shocked me when I saw how many players struggled to manage three different hotbars. Then I saw people saying they played it on a controller. The thought of playing an MMO on a controller seemed wild to me, but I was intrigued nonetheless.

Admittedly, it took some getting used to, but once I got the hang of it, it was a dream. It made playing the game so easy. Suddenly I had no trouble moving, no cramps in my hands… I could have cried with joy! For once, my handicap didn’t hinder me from playing a game, and I could enjoy it with my friends without worry. It was a joyful experience and I’m so glad I discovered FF14.

Final Fantasy 14 Endwalker

FinalFantasy 14.

FF14 continues to be a game I enjoy with friends. It has allowed me to connect with people I haven’t been able to interact with for a long time and it has given me great memories and hours of fun. It has become one of my favorite games and it has also become great for me to stream on Twitch.

FF14 has not only been a very healthy experience for me and my friends, it has also been a joyful experience for the community. Whenever I’ve explained my situation and why I’m using a controller, or asked other players to slow down because of my handicap, or possibly didn’t understand something, everyone was always so nice and attentive. FF14 has one of the nicest in-game communities I’ve ever come across. It makes a huge difference.

In general, I owe a lot to the MMOs I’ve played. They have enabled me to connect with my friends and enjoy gaming together. However, I really owe it to FF14 for bringing me closer to the experience I deserve to have within an MMO as a disabled person.

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