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Blind gamers compete in Japanese ‘Street Fighter V’ esports tournament

  • ePARA, a Japanese company that promotes diversity and inclusion for disabled esport players, held a “Street Fighter V: Champion Edition” tournament for blind gamers at Mirairo House Tokyo on Sunday.

  • Two teams competed against each other in the fighting game developed by Capcom.

  • Through the tournament, ePARA aimed to showcase “the beauty of working to overcome disability, and the depth of possibilities represented by e-sports.”

  • According to blind gamers, listening to and reacting to sound effects are essential to video game playing for visually impaired persons.

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A Japanese company that promotes diversity and inclusion for disabled esport players held a “Street Fighter V: Champion Edition” tournament strictly for blind gamers.

The Shingan Cup was organized by ePARA and livestreamed via the company’s YouTube channel on Sunday, according to a press release.

The tournament, which ePARA said would showcase “the beauty of working to overcome disability, and the depth of possibilities represented by e-sports,” featured two teams consisting of three players each.

Blind Fortia, whose members are Naoya, Igupi and Choco Tart, went up against MM, Kyo and Kure of Galaxy Laboratory.

Although the tournament was held at Mirairo House Tokyo, general spectators were not allowed to attend the event in person.

ePARA hosted its first tournament in November 2019. Besides helping disabled esport players join competitions and organize tournaments, ePARA also holds discussions with gamers about employment opportunities. 

“The skills and ability to communicate with others, which are necessary traits in esports, are also traits that companies look for in office workers,” Daiki Kato, who headed the company’s organizing committee, told Kyodo News in June 2020. “I want to offer a chance for people with disabilities to work as themselves.”

Esports tournaments with blind gamers playing “Street Fighter V,” a fighting game developed by Capcom, are not unheard of. In 2017, a blind Dutch “Street Fighter” player named Sven won Spain’s Sonic Boom tournament, beating a sighted player named Musashi in a best-of-three series.

In an interview, Sven, who went blind at the age of 5 due to cancer, explained that he has played different fighting games before, such as “Killer Instinct” and “Mortal Kombat,” but prefers “Street Fighter V” because of the game’s in-depth sound. Sven managed to beat Musashi using only audio cues.

Carlos Vasquez, a blind “Mortal Kombat” esports player, gave a similar explanation in an interview with Polygon in 2014. Vasquez said that after paying attention to the audio cues in “Mortal Kombat 9,” he realized they could help him continue his gaming career.

“I decided to go back and start paying attention more to my hearing and kind of realizing, ‘Hey, this game actually emphasizes every single hit as you play!’” he said.

As for determining the distance between a player’s character and their opponent, one Redditor explained in October 2020 that Sven uses fireballs.

“The longer it takes to reach the opponent, the farther away they are. If it doesn’t hit at all, they probably jumped,” the Redditor said.


Featured Image via バリアフリーeスポーツ [ePARA]

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