It was recently brought to my attention that it would be interesting to hear from me about the difficulties of having a stutter. Is it stutter or stammer? I’m sure there’s proper definitions for either but they’ve always been interchangeable to me.
The following video is of Australian musician Megan Washington presenting at a TEDTalks conference about living with a stutter. Give it a watch, it’s going to be much easier to hear a stutter and understand it than if I tried to describe it through words.
My stutter sounds and is about as bad as hers, so watching this video hit home with me. One of the reasons I’ve always enjoyed singing is because it’s the only time I can speak normally. I don’t do it anymore, only really did in choirs, and my voice is pretty bad compared to her. What I’d like to discuss is how my stutter relates to gaming and other social encounters.
I think I’ve stated in the past that I’m a predominantly single player focused gamer. The core reason for this is that it is nigh impossible for me to communicate with others who don’t know or understand my condition. There’s been times where I’ve had people hang the phone up on me when I’ve been locked up on a sound, leaving me feeling pretty crappy about myself. The last thing I want to do is have to go through that sort of situation with other people online. If I have to order food at a restaurant or something else where timing is important, I can be patient and make it obvious that I stutter. In a multiplayer match there is no time for such a thing. I’m not against playing with other people, it just has to be in specific circumstances.
One of the reasons I fell in love with the Souls franchise is due to the multiplayer being based on in game interactions. Instead of throwing insults or advice around, the players simply act. There is teamwork involved, probably much more than a standard first person shooter, but the knowledge of what to do is based upon your past experience with the game. You can learn bosses or character builds without the constant judgement of others. Another multiplayer game I found myself loving was Titanfall. I was intrigued by the fact the gameplay was based not solely on quick one on one duels but had elements of other game types. Also, mechs. I’m a sucker for mechs…
My stutter has also impacted my enjoyment of other games. I’ve dabbled in the World of Warcraft but never in the end game content. The amount of coordination and communication that seems to be required leaves me on the wayside. I can only image that any half-decent group or guild wouldn’t want to play with someone who can’t talk normal. Maybe it’s mostly me being down on myself, but it’s always kept me back from seeing the game’s main story content. This especially sucks since I’m a big fan of the world of Azeroth and its inhabitants, have been since Warcraft II. More recently this sort of social gaming has led to another disappointment.
I was super excited about the release of Destiny, but the recent announcements on the level cap and, most importantly, the end game raids requiring you to play with people on your friends list since the raid is so difficult. I participated in the strike in the beta and had a great time without needing to communicate verbally with the other players, so why should I be limited from the ultimate challenges that the game offers? Hell, I don’t even think I have five other friends with an Xbox One and are going to be playing Destiny, let alone have the same free time for me. Bungie’s decision has lost them a pre-order and potential customer. Modern games do NOT need ubiquitous and tacked-on multiplayer elements. We might be few, but there are people out there who are limited by these mechanics.
I’ve loved gaming because it’s something that lets me live another life. I can pick up a controller or lay my hands on a keyboard and be transported into a world where it’s more obvious that I matter. There’s so much crap going on in the world and there’s little us normal people can do about it, yet games often put us in situations where we feel like we can. I’ve dealt with the loss of a parent and other loved ones, yet if I had one wish I would take away my stutter. Little things like having a conversation become frustrating, leaving me with lowered self-esteem. However, it’s something that I’ve learned to live with and it’s become part of me. At least I can write. Even if the quality isn’t always as high as I would like, writing is another thing that I’ve learned to enjoy. Writing gives me a voice that sounds just like everyone else. Maybe that’s why I’ve kept this up as long as I have, and maybe why I don’t plan on stopping.
If you’ve kept reading what I write, can’t thank you enough. Seriously.