Esports is the most equal sport – That’s what Shunya Hatakeyama, Naoya Kitamura and several other Japanese gamers are trying to prove to society.
Unlike other sports, Esports will bring players to a world of equality: “There is no Esports tournament for the disabled. Even in real life, you can’t run, jump and play normal sports. normal, but you can still participate in the tournament and prove your worth in the online world” Rowan ‘Magnetbrain’ Crothers, the sick Valorant player who won the Paralympic gold once shared: “Even if I show up No matter how sharp on the track, I can still only limit myself to the Paralympics. But with Esports, there is no difference between me and the other players.”
In Japan, the pro-gaming movement has spread to the disabled community. Daiki Kato has founded a company called ePara, which allows disabled gamers to try their hand at Esports tournaments. Naoya Kitamura is one of the members of the company, he was born blind, but still participates in the billion-dollar industry with the hope that society will be more open to people with disabilities:
“Initially, I would stand still and listen to the sounds to see how the opponent moves.” Kitamura shares how I play Street Fighter: “Then I would react and start moving.”
Kitamura not only wants to change the view that Esports is just “playing games”, but also through Esports, people will no longer see people with disabilities as people who always need help: “I’m very good at computers. And I’m confident I can do more than the average person.”
Another Street Fighter gamer by the name of Shunya Hatakeyama also aspires to fairness and breaking boundaries in sports. Hatakeyama suffers from Muscular Dystrophy and has been wheelchair bound since the age of 6. He has always been passionate about fighting games but had to give them up for 6 years straight because his muscles were not strong enough to control the controller or the keyboard.
However, a friend designed Hatakeyama a set of keyboards with a special design, allowing him to continue his passion. At the present time, Hatakeyama has participated in many tournaments, he became a coach for disabled gamers, guiding them to perform manipulations or how to control the characters.
“If I give up playing games, I don’t think I will find any solution in life when I have a problem.” Hatakeyama shared: “When I attend tournaments, disability will not be an obstacle. I want to make everyone admire the way I compete.”
Kato, founder of the company ePara, believes that Esports will be a tool where people with disabilities can confidently demonstrate their abilities: “You don’t have to distinguish between normal people and disabled people in the Esports world. . That’s the most exciting thing about this sport. Whether you have a wheelchair or not, the competition and the rules of the game remain the same.”