There are a lot of YouTube channels out there for gaming, many of which are comedy-based or informational. Many Let’s Play videos focus on the streamer/gamer getting a taste of the game and exploring its content and features while making gestures and comments throughout for entertainment purposes. However, one channel in particular uses the Let’s Play format to help describe what’s happening on screen for gamers with poor eyesight or visual impairment.
One Angry Gamer contributor Robert Kingett notified me about the channel and the person behind. The name of the channel is called Games For Everybody, and it was started up by Matt Sharp earlier this year in 2016. The channel consists of playthroughs of various games with Matt providing visual-aid commentary to give gamers an idea of what he’s seeing and what’s taking place on-screen. It’s a little bit like turning video games into an audiobooks.
Matt has a variety of playthroughs up on the channel, and I managed to get in a few questions about Games For Everybody and his work with helping disabled gamers continue to enjoy gaming even if they can’t see what’s happening on the screen. Check it out below.
One Angry Gamer: So how did you come up with the idea to provide a channel covering video games for those with visual and hearing disabilities?
Matt Sharp: My channel originally came about from a desire to get into the let’s play community. I knew that, because YouTube was so saturated with let’s players, I needed something unique to set me apart from all the others. Most people turn to comedy, but I’m not particularly funny, so I had to try something else. A chance conversation with a visually impaired acquaintance of mine is what gave me the idea. This person lamented that they were no longer able to play video games, and that made me think providing visual description for games would be what made my channel unique.
OAG: I noticed that there’s also closed caption for those with hearing impairments. Was that also part of the plan — to provide both the hearing and visually disabled with a way to consume the content?
Matt: I actually didn’t know there was closed captioning for my channel! My original plan was to subtitle everything myself but that would have taken hours of work and I have a job and a family, so it wouldn’t really be feasible to use up all my free time like that. That’s good to know though, and I encourage the hearing impaired to check my channel out as well!
OAG: Have you received any consistent feedback from viewers about the project of playing games and providing visually descriptive commentary about what’s happening on screen and giving gamers with visual disabilities more of an inclusive overview of what you’re playing?
Matt: I’ve gotten tons of feedback. My favorite thing about doing what I do is all the amazing people I’ve met. I welcome their criticism at every turn, because at the end of the day, it’s about creating a great product for them.
OAG: Is there a particular process in how you pick and choose which games you play or does your audience play a part in that?
Matt: I do take some recommendations into account, but ultimately, if the game doesn’t look fun, I won’t play it. Mostly I choose games that mean something to me, or that are in genres I enjoy. As far as what I choose, it’s basically on a whim, like I’ll be in the mood to play something and so I pick it. I flip-flop a lot when it comes to telling people what I plan to do next because I can be fickle at times. But the ones I say I’ll play, I’ll eventually get to. It’s just a matter of when, not if.
OAG: So what are some of your favorite games and which systems do you like playing on the most?
Matt: I have too many favorite games to list, but my favorite genres are Japanese RPGs, open world games like The Elder Scrolls or Mount and Blade, real-time strategy games, and open warfare based games like Star Wars Battlefront or Dynasty Warriors Empires. I don’t have a favorite system either. I prefer the PC because it has the biggest library, but I often find myself going back to systems like the Super NES, Nintendo 64, Gamecube, and Playstation 1 and 2.
OAG: Do you find that there are certain kinds of games that are difficult to provide commentary for when describing what’s happening, or have you ever run into any particular problems when attempting to play through certain games due to certain visual styles or graphics choices that may make it difficult to convey to your audience?
Matt: So far I haven’t really encountered this because most of the games I play are very story-driven so there’s a lot going on and a lot to describe, but if I had to guess, I’d say old-school platformers like Super Mario or Sonic the Hedgehog would be the hardest to provide commentary for. Aside from describing initially what the level looked like, there wouldn’t be that much to comment on because there’s not really a story, so I imagine it would mostly just be me being quiet while the game’s music played in the background
OAG: I don’t know if you’re aware of the DAGER system by Josh Straub, but it’s another gaming resource for gamers with disabilities and he’s been doing a lot of out-reach to spread awareness about gaming while disabled. Have you considered collaborating with any other organizations to help boost the visibility of Games For Everybody?
Matt: I’ve never heard of that, but I’ll have to check it out. I would absolutely love to collaborate. I’ve done a few collaborations with some friends of mine I’ve met through my channel, but I would also really like to collaborate with big-name YouTubers and larger organizations, not just other gamers but people important to the visually impaired community as well.
OAG: And finally, are there any particular games you have lined up in the near future that you plan to play through for your audience?
Matt: I do have a few games planned, but nothing in a definite order. I’m currently playing Kingdom Hearts and would like to do more in that series. Other games I have planned are Earthbound, Valkyria Chronicles, Skies of Arcadia, Costume Quest, and maybe some Final Fantasy eventually.
Huge thanks goes out to Matt Sharp for answering the questions. You can check his channel over on YouTube at Games For Everybody.