Giving visibility to disabilities in gaming

First "Handiskin" event: a bridge between esport and disability

With 71% of people playing video games in France, and 49% playing them regularly*, you’d think all ages and all profiles would be represented. All that is except for people with disabilities who still experience difficulty accessing games. Cross-checking the statistics of the French union of leisure software publishers, SELL, and those of the Insee (the French institute of statistics), the website estimates that there could be 6 million gamers affected by a form of disability. Great efforts are being made in terms of accessibility, especially regarding the equipment, but their representation in the games themselves doesn’t seem much of a priority for the industry so far.

To give greater visibility to disability in gaming, Societe Generale created the first "playable skins", or characters, representing visible and invisible disabilities for "Among us" - the video game that reached 500 million players in November 2020.

Eight streamers, led by Frenchman Doigby**, tested them live on the Twitch platform last week with two disabled athletes also part of the team: paralympic swimmer Ugo Didier and Théo Jordan, president of ReBird - a "handi esport" team.

These 6 first “skins”, complete with their curious names, made a real impression with their atypical performances:

Wheel Smith is seated in a wheelchair, but that hasn’t stopped him going even faster thanks to his hover-chair.
Arm Fatal has an extensible prosthetic arm to catch a player for a few seconds.
Mc Sonar has limited hearing... But what he’s lacking in hearing he makes up for with his awesome vision!
Sam Fisheye has lost his sight... and developed exceptional hearing! He can hear all the game’s actions better than everyone else.
Although his disability is invisible, it is also his strength. With his amazing focus, Justin has the power to be invisible.
Smol can take on the appearance and power of another player for a short period of time.

The event attracted 20,000 viewers in just one evening. It was held in partnership with the French Federation of Disabled Sports (Federation Française Handisport), of which the Group has been a partner for 18 years. After a summer in which disabled athletes showed off their sporting prowess at the Tokyo Paralympic Games, Societe Generale hopes to continue to raise awareness and encourage industry players to give more visibility to disability in video games.

*Source: Barometer "Jeux vidéo & handicap : frustrations, barrières et attentes", Be Player One agency (a specialised agency encouraging greater access to video games for people with disabilities), December 2020

**Arif Akin, known as Doigby in the esports world, is one of the most famous French influencers in the gaming world. He is known for streaming mainly on the Fortnite game, but also for commenting and organising numerous tournaments and events on Twitch. He currently has 4.76 million followers on his various networks (YouTube, Twitch, Twitter and Instagram).