At the end of his internship with GameInformer magazine, Josh Straub graduated from Southwest Minnesota State University with a degree in creative writing and history. His earliest gaming memories are of looking over his father’s shoulder while he played Warcraft 2. While these experiences gave him a deep appreciation for the RTS genre, Josh seeks to play games across all genres and platforms due to his interest in game accessibility for the disabled. This interest stems from too many experiences in which he has hurled his controller across the room after finding out that a game was inaccessible, due to his Cerebral Palsy. Because of his wide exposure and interest in games, Josh appreciates the story of a game more than any other element, especially because the stories of the games of his childhood provided him with an invaluable sense of escape from his disability.
Megan Confer-Hammond was born and raised in suburban Maryland. She currently lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, since her graduation from Carnegie Mellon University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Architecture. By day, she uses her powers for good investigating cases of housing discrimination. By night, she plays video games saving the digital world. A handheld Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game hooked Megan into gaming in an era before voice acting, where many games provided comprehensive captions. The rise of voice acting in gaming resulted in captions being removed from games for nearly a console generation. Upon their return, game captions were often merely subtitles, not captions. Megan opposes instances of limiting her choice—not due to her genre preferences but solely due to her hearing disability. Nowadays, she games primarily on her Xbox 360, but she is dabbling again in PC gaming.
Jeremy Peeples was born in 1983 and was in such a hurry to see the world that he was born 4 1/2 months early. It cost him the vision in his right eye and a lot of it in his left, but after four months in the ICU, he was able to come home with his mother. He began gaming in the late ’80s at an arcade while on a trip, and got an Atari 2600 in ’88. Gaming was a largely passive part of his life until the early ’90s when his ophthalmologist recommended an NES to help with hand/eye coordination. That same day a system was picked up with Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt, a Zapper, and a copy of Classic Contration. That opened pandora’s box and gaming has been a regular part of his life since. In 2000, he started writing for GameFAQs, which led to staff writing gigs at Game2Extreme and VGPub that prepared him for Hardcore Gamer Magazine in 2005. A life-long dream was fulfilled by being in print, and he remained part of that publication until its closure in print form in 2010. He joined the relaunched website in 2012, and has been a part of DAGER System since early 2014.
Michael Matlock developed a passionate interest in technology and has sharpened his love of video games since the ripe old age of four. Though born with the autosomal genetic disorder, Spinal Muscular Atrophy, honing his tech and gaming interests helped him cope with the ongoing degeneration of his spinal motor neurons and weakening muscular system. Michael firmly believes in the validity of gaming as an art form and enjoys both the atmosphere and soundtrack of a title as much as the gameplay itself. While entertained by a wide-variety of games, the Horror and Role-playing genres have repeatedly piqued Michael’s interest. The Persona series, in particular, had a profound impact on his life. After writing reviews for ablegamers.com for several years, Michael created his own YouTube channel, using The Crippled Critic alias, to highlight the importance of game accessibility. Most recently, Michael was asked to speak on the topic at Gwinnett College. The lack of control options in games and the tendency get rid of legacy controls, motivated him to help give other disabled gamers information about a game before they buy it. Today, Michael finds a lack of auto-aim to be a particular design annoyance. And though rapidly changing, Michael favors games developed on the PlayStation 4 and the PC platforms due to the additional options disabled gamers have to address a publisher’s oversights.
Brandon Cole is your average, run of the mill, everyday, typical awesome blind guy. He likes all the things average, run of the mill, typical, everyday awesome blind guys like. Good books, good music, good movies, and perhaps most of all, good games!
Brandon has been a gamer for a ridiculously long time, ever since his brother played a cruel joke on him as a child. A weird way to get into gaming, perhaps, but it worked for him. He’ll try any game at least once to find out if it can be played by the blind.
You might be asking, “But Brandon! Super awesome blind guy! What’s your favorite game?” Well, let me put it to you like this. If you were to, say, challenge Brandon to a game of Mortal Kombat X, you may find yourself burnt to a crisp, kicked into at least 2 distinct pieces, or at the very least, pummeled beyond recognition. You might say that’s his favorite game, at least out of those he can play. The Last of Us is probably his favorite out of those he cannot.
What about books? Well, Stephen King is his alltime favorite author. Don’t get him started talking about King books, because he is not likely to stop. Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, though, is a book he holds pretty highly.
When it comes to movies, Brandon likes a bunch of ‘em. So many, in fact, that picking a favorite is nearly impossible. He does like to say, though, that the movie that requires the least audio description of any movie he’s ever seen is Phonebooth.
The important thing here is that Brandon calls himself an accessibility educator now, a title he intends to hold onto, as well as all around awesome blind guy, for a long time.