Helldivers 2 CEO Responds to Able Gamers’ Steven Spohn Regarding Blocked Accessibility Software

All players should be able to conduct managed democracy.

Steven Spohn, COO of nonprofit organization Able Gamers, posted a disappointing experience with everyone’s favorite new multiplayer game on Twitter yesterday, involving accessbility.

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Helldivers 2, developed by Arrowhead Game Studios, has a development team that’s been in the trenches from hour one—either putting out PR fires regarding server woes or responding to player feedback. The crew has been a (mostly) stellar example of a game studio with a great culture and a commitment to player feedback. So when Spohn hit social media to explain that the game was impossible for him to play due to a bizarre blockage of his accessibility software, Arrowhead CEO Johan Pilestedt listened.

For those who don’t know, Steven Spohn has a condition known as Spinal Muscular Atrophy, which he talks about openly in a blog post over on Abilities. This condition, in short, robs Spohn and those who have it of the ability to effectively use their muscles and worsens over time. Nowadays, Spohn uses multiple devices to assist with gaming, including a dictation program and “infrared hat,” which allow him to use dictation and head movements to input commands on his PC.

Helldivers 2, for reasons unknown, blocks both programs associated with these tools, meaning Spohn has no way to play the game currently:

Luckily, help seems to be on the way. “I will look into this,” replied Johan Pilestedt, CEO of Arrowhead Game Studios on Twitter. Following this, the two began DM’ing each other to better communicate the programs Spohn uses to the team in order to address the root cause for their blockage.

Spohn’s company, Able Gamers, applies this exact sort of methodology on a wider scale, conducting engineering research, peer counseling, and industry collaboration to ensure those with disabilities are able to play the games they love. It takes more than a single voice to make a change: it also requires teams like Arrowhead to listen and make the changes needed to get players of all kinds back in the game.


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Author
David Morgan
David is a pediatric asthma researcher at Cincinnati Children's Hospital by day, and Prima Freelancer by night. He always finds time for the games he loves, and then some more to tell you all about them.
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