Blindness no obstacle for gamer

Written by Geoff Richards

July 28, 2005 | 13:56

Tags: #yahoo-news

Challenge 17-year old Brice Mellon to a game of Soul Caliber 2 at your peril - he can beat you even with his back turned. But Brice isn't showboating - it doesn't matter which way he faces, because he is blind.

Afflicted with Leber's Disease which caused his optic nerve to not connect, Brice has been blind since birth. Yet like any teenager, his enthusiasm for playing video games has allowed him to achieve the seemingly impossible - to successfully play without ever seeing the screen.

"He enjoyed trying to play, but he wasn't very good at first," said his father, Larry Mellen. "But he just kept on trying."

Seasoned gamers who are familiar with a certain game will often zoom through common menu options, such as hitting New Game and picking a character, as they have done hundreds of times before. Anyone who has ever watched a seasoned Counter-Strike player spawn and proceed to stock himself up with weapons and ammo in 2 seconds flat will know the feeling. But how does Brice know when to duck, block or attack?

Starting with classics like Space Invaders and Asteroids at age 7, he spent many hours practising, memorising button combos and timing just as any sighted gamer would. However, without visual cues, he pays particular attention to audio cues - a grunting character initiating a special attack, or the anxious button mashing of is opposition - to guide his actions.

"How do I move?" an exasperated opponent, Ryan O'Banion, asked during a battle in which his character is frozen in place.

"You can't," Mellen answered before finishing him off.

"That's what happens. It's why I don't play him," O'Banion said after his blood-spattered character's corpse vanishes from the screen.

You can read the full story at Yahoo News. It seems the fragile egos of young, male gamers are an endangered species these days: if it wasn't enough to be beaten by a girl, you now risk being beaten by a blind guy. Serious respect to Brice for achieving the seemingly impossible.

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