AbleGamers & Video Game Accessibility – Steve Spohn (POY 21)

AbleGamers & Video Game Accessibility - Steve Spohn (POY 21)

Steve Spohn is the COO of AbleGamers, which helps those with disabilities play video games. He and Josh talk about this incredibly touching mission.

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Transcript

This transcript may differ in minor instances from the audio content. Please notify Josh Morgan of any errors you may find.

Monologue by Josh Morgan

This is The Plural of You, the podcast about people helping people. I’m Josh Morgan.

I’m a sociologist and a writer, and I use this podcast to share stories from people who are making a difference in the lives of others, people like you and me. This is Episode 21, and you can read along with the transcript for this episode at pluralofyou.org/021.

Steve Spohn is the Chief Operating Officer at the AbleGamers Foundation, a nonprofit organization that helps those with disabilities play video games. The mission behind AbleGamers is to give everyone access to the benefits that gaming provides, especially to those people who can’t play video games without assistive technology. AbleGamers has grown over the years from a small website to a leading organization for change in the gaming industry, and Steve’s job is to keep their services running smoothly. I talked with Steve about the importance of accessibility in video games and how the mission has affected his own journey with disability. I’ll play that conversation in a moment.

The first video game I can remember playing was Asteroids for the Atari 2600. It was on an old black-and-white TV, if you can believe it, and I was three years old. I played games pretty consistently after that until my mid-twenties. The reason I bring this up is because talking with Steve taught me a lot about why I identified so strongly as a gamer for so many years. I still play a couple of games a year now, but I’m doing that lame adult thing where instead I try to use my free time productively, whatever that means. I doubt he meant to, but Steve helped me realize that I’ve been limiting myself with notions like that.

According to a study published by the Pew Research Center, half of American adults reported that they played video games, and that was split about evenly between men and women. Strangely enough, from the same survey, a quarter of American adults reported that they thought most games were wastes of time. A third thought only some games were wastes of time and another quarter thought most games were not. I assume there isn’t data to track how these responses have evolved over the years, but I think it’s safe to argue that the perception of video games in popular culture has changed significantly, at least since I was a kid.

I realized while prepping this episode that I stopped identifying as a gamer and playing games as much when it stopped being a social activity for me. The family and friends I played with grew up and we all wandered off in different directions. Now that I’m aware of it, it makes me want to reach out and get some of those people playing together in some capacity. Sure, some games can be time sinks, but I think I’ve been too focused on that as a negative and ignoring the social benefits of keeping in touch.

Back in the day, gaming brought me and my friends together and helped us communicate during times when that wasn’t always easy. I have a ton of fond memories from sharing certain games with them, and we still tell stories about silly things that we used to do, like when my brother would level up in Star Ocean: The Second Story by leaving a shoe on top of a turbo button, or the first time we played Grand Theft Auto 3 and we stole an ambulance. Most of the research I’ve seen supports this type of experience. Studies show that cooperative gameplay promotes cooperative behaviors and can reduce aggression in the real world. I even found a textbook that was published in 2013 on the social significance of online games.

Sadly, these are the types of stories that some with disabilities haven’t been able to participate in, but Steve and AbleGamers are working every day to reach those individuals and get them involved.

In a way, I suppose I’ve taken gaming for granted. I mean, I’m not going to start playing again every day, but now I know that there are people who would love to play but can’t, and now I appreciate why they would want to. Play doesn’t have to be a frivolous thing, and adults need playful activities just like children do. Again, I’m sure Steve didn’t come into our conversation to change my views on anything, but he convinced me that gaming doesn’t have to be a waste of time. For some, gaming offers access to shared experiences that may otherwise be inaccessible to them, and I think that’s a unique gift to give to someone.

I’ve admired the AbleGamers crew for years, so I’m honored that Steve agreed to talk with me. An interview he did with Playboy magazine went live not long before we talked, which must have been surreal thing for him to be a part of, but it goes to show how the perception of gaming has changed over the years and how interest in greater accessibility is growing to match it. Here’s Steve Spohn, COO at the AbleGamers Foundation.

Interview with Steve Spohn

JM: How’s it going? How’s your day been?

SS: Not too bad. How about yours?

JM: It’s going pretty well.

You know, I’m a little humbled. I never expected to interview someone that’s been featured on Playboy. [laughs]

SS: [laughs] That’s another day in the life of someone doing charity work.

JM: [laughs]

Tell me about AbleGamers. What types of services do you provide?

SS: Sure. AbleGamers is a nonprofit that provides for people who are disabled and would like to play video games. We both empower people who are disabled to be able to play video games by showing them the equipment available on the market that they could purchase for themselves or go through our grant program to apply for in order to play video games just like anyone else.

We also reach out to the industry and we offer free consultation to developers. Some of the big names from Blizzard all the way down to PopCap and mobile games that needs help designing accessible games and coming up with options that people can use to play the games that they need to play a little differently than everyone else.

JM: What types of disabilities do you help people work around to play video games?

SS:We don’t have any particular kind of disability that we help or don’t help. We like to say that everyone should be able to game. If you’re somebody who has a physical disability like a muscular dystrophy or a cerebral palsy, if you have low vision, if you’re a deaf gamer or hard of hearing, or if you have something like an injury from war trauma or an accident, we can generally help you get back into playing.

We don’t do as much on the cognitive disability side. That’s more of a software problem, whereas you need games that are specifically made or can be easily learned by someone that may have different learning abilities than anyone else. We do have games that are more recommended for someone who might be on the autism spectrum or someone who may have learning disabilities or dyslexia, something like that.

JM: I was wondering: With all of these services that you provide, how do you help accommodate all of these different conditions?

SS: In a lot of ways, we’re a resource hub. We have a lot of people that are experts in different areas of disability.

For example, my wheelhouse is more the PC side for people who have severe physical disabilities. We’ll take someone into our laboratory, check out what their abilities are, what their desires are as far as what they’d like to play, run them through the different options that we know about, and see if any of them fit. If they do, great.

If they don’t fit anything that we already have already done or do, then we start looking at using our 3D printer, or reaching out to our hardware contacts or our software contacts and figure out something that would work for that specific instance.

JM: That’s sounds really sophisticated. Wow.

SS: It’s not sophisticated so much as it is taking the time to learn each individual gamer’s needs and wants, and figuring out where their strengths lie. “Oh, you can move your calf muscle. Oh, you can move your left leg a little more than your right. What about a switch there?”

It’s really no different than any other physical therapy. It’s identifying where someone has strengths and then playing to those strengths in order to get them gaming.

JM: How did AbleGamers get started? What’s the story behind all of this?

SS: Ten years ago, a fellow by the name of Mark Barlet started AbleGamers as a response to an incident that happened with his sister from another mother in an air-base[?] situation. She and he would always meet together to play EverQuest. One day, when they went to have their EverQuest meeting, she was unable to play. Unfortunately at the time, multiple sclerosis had taken away her ability to use her right hand to play with the mouse.

She was terrified and thought that was it, she was not going to game anymore.

Of course, being a friend and wanting to help his friend through this tragic time, Mark started looking on the Internet to find out if you have this kind of condition, what can you do to get around it? Sadly, at the time, there was virtually no information on how you conquer a disability and still play a game.

A few days went by, the M.S. attack subsided. Stephanie regained the ability to use the mouse, but at the same time, they both realized, “Wow. If this happened to me, then this could happen to anyone.” They never wanted anyone to have that same feeling of terror that you would lose this passion, this hobby that you had held dearly to your heart and no longer be able to participate in it.

They started up a small, little blog and started reaching out to developers and saying, “Hey, have you thought about accessibility? What would happen if you couldn’t do this, you couldn’t do that?” It quickly evolved into having a community of people who came by and gave their own expertise and knowledge.

Then, three years after its conception, AbleGamers became a full, IRS 501(c)3 nonprofit. I came on-board, then we started off onto the crazy journey of Playboy articles and CNN interviews that we’re on today.

JM: [laughs] Yeah, that’s pretty impressive. How did you get involved?

SS: I was just a gamer. I used to be a first-person shooter gamer. I was back in the MLG lightweight amateur divisions and playing things like Tribes and doing my own thing.

My disease is neuromuscular, but I’m also slowly losing the ability to be able to play. At the time, I was on the cusp of losing the ability to use a mouse and a keyboard at the same time. I knew that there must be technology out there. I’ve always been a technology guy, I’ve always been into gadgets and what-not, but I didn’t know anything about accessibility.

I reached out to the Interwebs to look to see what was available. AbleGamers’ name was all over it.

I went to AbleGamers and the first thing I saw was a World of Warcraft article that was written by Mark saying, “World of Warcraft was completely inaccessible to you if you could not use both a keyboard and a mouse.” I was like, “No, no, no. That’s not true. I only use a mouse right now and I can totally play. You’re wrong. You have no idea what you’re doing, what you’re talking about.” Instead of shooting me down or treating me like an Internet troll, he said, “Oh yeah? You think you can do it better? Then write about it.”

Me, being a cocky, little teenager, I was like, “Sure, I’ll do it. Whatever.” I wrote about it and got some great feedback. A lot of people were like, “Thanks! I didn’t know I could play” from it.

Once you help somebody out, that feeling you get? It’s like a drug, it’s like an addiction. You just want to keep helping people and keep making the world better. Slowly but surely, almost a decade later, here I am, the number two at the organization, just trying to help the people out.

JM: You worked your way all the way up to COO. What do you do day-to-day?

SS: Day-to-day operations mostly includes trying to make sure all the parts of AbleGamers are working.

We have one branch, Unstoppable Gamer, that is our review branch. We take in games and review them for their accessibility. Instead of a typical Kotaku or any of the Destructoids, where they review a game for fun, we review it based on the accessibility. How much jumping will I need to do in the latest Yoshi game? How much shooting and action-flicking will I need to do in the latest Call of Duty? We lay it out so if you have these different disabilities, you’ll know before you purchase the game whether or not you stand a good chance of being able to play it or play it to your level.

Then we have our outreach program, where a lot of us go these different facilities, whether it be at a hospital, a group home, or a care facility. We reach out to the people living there or being treated and see if we can help them get back into gaming, whether that’s giving them controllers, teaching them a new way to think about playing, maybe you just lost an arm and you need to figure out how to play one-handed.

We’ll come to you and help you figure out exactly what it is that you should be doing to game. That’s through email. If they have someone in the area, then we’ll actually send someone to you, if that’s something you’re interested in.

Of course, we have a lot of expos that we go to. We’re at the Penny Arcades and the South by Southwests. All of those that are in the gaming circle, we’re normally there with our equipment, spreading awareness that disabled not only exist but they’re part of your community, and you’re probably playing games with them and you might not realize it.

JM: I’ve read elsewhere that AbleGamers has three big suggestions as far as improving accessibility in games. Could you summarize those for me?

SS: Absolutely. There’s a lot of suggestions that we have with our Includification document, but the big three are: having remappable keys, which are becoming standard. Not every game does it so far, but the ability to change what key to push for what ability is slowly becoming standardized.

It’s not as big as number two, which is subtitles. Subtitles are sort of everywhere now. That’s mostly thanks to the federal mandate law for media, being movies and TV shows have to have subtitles. That was translated over to video games, whereas there’s no laws for video games. That’s why there are no remappable key mandates and stuff like that. Subtitles, there still a media, so there have to be subtitles.

Of course, having colorblind options. One in seven men have some type of color deficiency, so having the ability to change between options of color blindness can help a large segment of the population be able to play more comfortably.

JM: I wasn’t aware of that. Huh.

How receptive have developers been to these types of suggestions?

SS: It depends.

JM: I’m sure it varies, yeah.

SS: It depends on what publisher and what time frame you’re looking. When I first came on to AbleGamers, we went down to GDC. There’s this video on YouTube, your audience can feel free to look it up on our channel.

JM: I’m sorry. What is GDC?

SS: GDC is the Game Developers Conference. Once a year, all the big who’s-who game developers come to one, central conference and talk about what’s coming up in that year for virtual reality, 3D technology, or whatever it might be. This year’s all about the virtual headsets, so that’s what we’re dealing with in our world right now.

JM: I saw Oculus Rift may be coming out, I think in March.

SS: Yeah, it’s coming out in March. It’ll be $500. It’s an interesting accessibility challenge that we’ll be dealing with real soon.

GDC is the end-all, be-all of developer conferences. There’s other ones that I talked about earlier like Penny Arcade/PAX and SXSW. Those are more for the audience, whereas GDC is more for developers.

We went to GDC, we set up a camera, and said to all the developers walking by, “Hey, can we ask you one question?” We brought them over and said, “Have you ever thought about accessibility?” They either answered yes or no. That’s all we did for the entire five-minute video was ask all of these developers had they heard about accessibility.

Most of them at the time said no, a few yeses, and only one douchebag walked away.

JM: [laughs]

SS: Yeah, just straight up laughed at us and walked away. That was an incredible guy.

At the time, seven years ago? No. No one thought about accessibility. No one really cared. Today? The landscape is so much different, where you actually have people coming to us and saying, “Hey, I really want to include gamers with disabilities in my product. How can I make it better?” We have the high-end, top-tier publishers coming to us and asking how they can make games better.

Of course, there’s always the yin and the yang. For everyone that comes to us and asks, there’s another one like Nintendo that just won’t deal with us.

JM: That’s strange to me.

SS: Yeah! You would think a big publisher like Nintendo would be all about accessibility, but they so far just don’t want to deal with us.

JM: I was curious about your gameplay lab. I know you set that up a few years ago. How do you help people in the gameplay lab?

SS: Like we were talking about earlier, it’s an entire laboratory that’s set up with every imaginable piece of assistive technology, computers, video consoles, and everything that generally people like to play nowadays set up in a room, in a giant foyer that has nothing but different types of equipment set up in various configurations so that somebody could just come in.

When we assess what their general problems and challenges might be, we can wheel them or walk them over to whatever station that we might have a solution. We have one table that has a mouth controller that you can control the screen by sipping and puffing on the straw, and moving your mouth around. We have another one that looks like a giant keyboard you put on your lap with an arcade stick, like a good old fashioned Atari, giant stick you’d see on any kind of arcade. Those are great for people that have cerebral palsy because they’re easy to grab onto.

If you have something that’s [a] more severe motor-neuron type disorder, we have—it’s hard to describe if you’ve never seen it. If you can imagine a standard Xbox controller stuffed into a box that has a bunch of jacks, just like you would plug your headphones into your computer or your dashboard? You plug in these different switches so they can be velcroed around somebody’s body anywhere they have movement, say like an eyebrow movement, [if] you can flex your ears, or [if] you can move your head side to side.

We can figure out how to game based on what movement you have.

JM: Is something like the Kinect or the Wii controllers, back when those came out a few years ago, have those been helpful as far as expanding accessibility?

SS: Quite the opposite. There are people that like to play those kinds of games.

For the most part, the Wii is very inaccessible. It does not allow for third-party hardware to be developed easily. Xbox has a licensing agreement, and PlayStation allows for their controllers to be modded out by, say, MadCatz or some of the other big name producers of hardware, whereas the Wii is a completely secluded island in its own design.

You can’t design, say, a special hat that you can wiggle around and control the Wii. It’s not possible, so we have to do silly things like put a Wiimote on top of a baseball cap and put it on somebody’s head. Although those kinds of things work, they’re not very practical. Most people feel silly using them. They were not successful, and they were not our top recommendations.

Same thing with the Kinect. My boss always says, “Who wants to run around the living room when you can just grab a controller, sit down on the couch, and eat some chips?” You’re not going to want to stand in place for twelve hours at a time, like some gamers like to play. Even if you love the Kinect, you’re only going to play it for a short amount of time.

Fortunately, the movement craze was a fad that never really caught on, which is fortunate for what I do. It runs completely anti to what I do.

JM: I didn’t think of that when I asked the question.

SS: Yeah, it’s not what most people think about. You think about a Kinect, you’re like, “Oh, just moving my arms around.” For some people, that’s a dream. They’d be able to move their arms around but they can’t. In my situation, I would figure out a way to put it on a baseball cap or put it on your foot.

One kid we met at a conference that I was talking about earlier, he really, really wanted to play Kinect. You had a disorder which made his arms grow stumped. They were only about—maybe as far as your bicep is? That was where his fingers were at when his arms were fully developed. His father called it T-rex syndrome, although that’s not its real name. That was the inside joke he had with his child.

This little teenager really wanted to play Fruit Ninja. In Fruit Ninja, you have to be able to slice your arms back and forth across the screen. This was before it was an iPad game where you could just flick your finger. You have to be able to run around and slice and dice.

He wanted to play, but the camera couldn’t recognize his arms because they were so small. Because they were small, the Kinect wasn’t trained to see anything other than a standard, quote-unquote normal arm. In order to compensate for that, we reached down, grabbed some packing foam like you might have laying around from a box, handed it to him in a long stick, and he started waving it around like you might a katana. All of the sudden, he was able to play.

Accessibility is not sophisticated necessarily as it is just interesting for people who might not be thinking that way.

JM: What makes you so passionate about helping to expand accessibility for gaming?

SS: It, number one, speaks to me personally. I have a neuromuscular disease. I get that, if you’re unable to go out to the club, onto the football field or soccer field with your friends, what you can do is play video games. That doesn’t require your legs or your movement. Everybody has their own story.

I get the importance of having video games as an option. When you’re somebody who has a mind that’s perfectly able but your body might not be willing, video games can be a window into an otherwise inaccessible world of wonder and freedom and joy. You’ll be able to fly and run and jump just like any other person can in a video game, even if you can’t do it in real life.

For me, it was about not only helping people but getting people to realize: you might not be able to do something the traditional way, but there’s no reason that, in a virtual world, you can’t level the playing field.

JM: That’s interesting. I guess I never thought of it that way until you said what you just said. There can be a stigma sometimes about video games, where it’s a waste of time or there could be things you could do that are more productive. If you don’t necessarily have that option, I can see where you would want to help people get involved if you can. That’s interesting.

SS: What’s interesting about that is people don’t realize, especially if you don’t spend a lot of time online, exactly how far the rabbit hole of virtual worlds can go.

There was this girl—so a little bit of brief backstory. Paul Barnett, who is an important, high-up guy at Mythic, which is a division of Electronic Arts. Back in the day, they produced a lot of games. He worked on this one game where you can have a virtual world and had almost a second life but not that video game, a different kind of game where you have unicorns and horses, you could get married, you could have a life and a house, you could run, all of these things.

This girl, who was only thirteen, had a disease where she could never leave the house. She was very much the stereotypical, extremely sick, can’t leave, at high risk because of her immune disease. She was unable to go out into the world. On top of that, she had her own neuromuscular problems, which kept her bed bound. She had never had a birthday party. She had never gone out with her friends to a sleepover, any of that. She really wanted to experience life.

Through this game that he had made, she was able to have a 21st birthday party. She was able to get married to her virtual love, be able to own a pony farm, and go through these cool things. She sent him a letter. The letter said, “Thank you for all of these things.”

Afterwards was commentary from her mom, who had said, “Unfortunately, since this [letter was written], she passed away. I wanted you to know how great it was that she was able to experience all of these through a video game. It gave her the same sort of experiences that anyone else could have. She would have never had that opportunity without you.” That is what made him appreciate accessibility, made him become a member of AbleGamers, and go on.

Virtual worlds are not just about playing games: they can be about experiencing life.

JM: That puts this whole situation in perspective.

Has this type of work transcended games at all? Has anything that you’ve been involved in left gaming and helped out those limited mobility or disabilities in other ways?

SS: Well, sure. Just like the story we talked about with the girl, that’s a great example.

One of my favorite stories is: there was this family helped in an expo in Chicago. It was mom, a dad, a sister, and a son in a wheelchair. The son was very physically disabled. He had a heart monitor, he was in a wheelchair reclined back with his legs sticking out and a drool bib on the side. He was looking around. You could tell he was cognizant but his body wasn’t cooperating with him.

The family stood outside of our booth for a long time looking at these TV monitors with games, just staring. I noticed them standing over there. I came over to them, motioned for them to come over. I said, “Come on. Let’s give it a shot. Come in and check it out.” They were like, “No, no. We can’t do this. My son is too physically disabled. It’s not going to happen.” I eventually badgered, to the point where I was like, “Come on. Let’s just give it a shot.”

They were able to come in the booth. My boss, Mark, and I with them and did our assessment. Within about five minutes, we noticed that his right foot had some movement left in it. We fired up a racing game, brought out a foot pedal that could be lightly pushed, and we held the foot pedal up to his foot. He was able to operate the gas and make the car start moving. He lights up, starts squealing and bubbling.

You could almost feel the joy coming out of him. He was immensely happy beyond words. The mom and the dad were in tears, just like, “Oh, my god. Is this possible?” We were able to help him get him back into gaming.

The great part of that was, at the end of the show later that night, the dad walked up behind me—this big, 6’2″ Army-Marine looking dude came up behind me and taps me on the shoulders. I turned around, and here’s a dude with tears in his eyes saying, “Thank you. You gave my son an ability that I never thought he would have. He always is in my arms on the couch. Whenever a video game ad comes on TV, he starts squealing and wiggling. He always wants to play but I never thought he could.”

That was it for me. That was the moment I knew I needed to do this. It’s not just about the gaming, it’s about giving someone an experience in life that they might never otherwise have if we weren’t around to show them.

JM: That makes me curious, also: How has doing this work affected you personally? Would you say it’s helped you deal with your own condition?

SS: I think that, any time you can focus on helping someone else with their problems and not your own, that’s helpful. You know what I mean? As they say, psychiatrists are often the worst patients because they ignore their own problems in order to help others. I think in a lot of ways that’s for mine, as well.

I didn’t mind stepping out of the first-person shooter world, giving my life over to AbleGamers, and helping that brand succeed because I knew it was important. It was bigger than me being able to shoot somebody in the face for the fun of it. It was about helping somebody have experiences in real life. Whether that’s a coping mechanism or not, I guess that’s for someone for psychoanalyze me in a book about my life some day.

JM: [laughs]

SS: For now, I can tell you I don’t regret my choice of stopping gaming every day in order to help other people. I hope that other people will also see the value in giving people experiences that they might not otherwise get.

JM: Would you say you’re optimistic about the expansion of accessibility and includification going forward?

SS: The landscape is getting better. More and more companies are coming to us and asking about accessibility. They’re going to other industry experts on what they should do to make things better. Yes, things are getting better.

The problem is that, although AbleGamers is the only nonprofit in the world that wants to put itself out of business—there’s nothing more that I would to come back, do your show in five years, and say, “You know what, Josh? There’s no need for me anymore. It’s all accessible now.” The problem is that, as technology becomes more mobile, it becomes less accessible to those who don’t have mobility. If you are somebody that wants to play on a tablet, that’s great, while I can’t pick up a tablet. Immediately, everything on a tablet is off limits to me unless I have some sort of assistive technology to help me overcome that barrier.

Same thing with virtual reality: if they come out with, say, a holodeck type of thing, anyone who cannot get up and experience it like they would real life would be completely locked out of it, anything where you have to have a Kinect, anything where you need to be able to move your head, even somebody with low vision will be locked out of the VR experience.

Yes, things are getting more accessible, but technology is always a race. Even in my line of work, it’s always like we’re racing against the clock to make this current generation of technology more accessible before the next generation comes along and we have to start all over again.

JM: I never thought of it that way.

Is there anything that my listeners could do to help you or the people that you serve in your mission?

SS: Like all nonprofits, we are completely based on donors and the generosity of the great public that we exist in. Right now, we are over 85 percent individually funded. We have 96 percent of our money [going] to our mission, which is one of the highest in the industry—the charity industry as a whole. Ninety-six cents from every dollar goes directly to our mission.

JM: I saw that. That’s impressive.

SS: It takes a lot of work and we have a lot of volunteers who are gracious enough to give us their time without charging us, and we’re grateful for that.

There’s a lot of work that needs to be done. There are somewhere between 33-70 million gamers with disabilities on the North American continent alone, estimates have it up to a billion people worldwide. There’s a lot of work to be done and we need a lot of money to do it.

If anyone wants to donate and help that way, you can go to ablegamers.com/donate. You can give monthly, yearly. If you don’t have the funds to be able to donate, we also appreciate any word of mouth that someone might able to do: a couple of tweets, a Facebook post. Let someone in your family know that disabled gamers exist, and we are fighting for equality just like everyone else.

We’re there playing, these people need to be heard, and this is a message that’s important.

JM: Do you still play?

SS: I play when I have time. Being COO, I don’t get as much time as I’d like. When I do, you can catch me in League of Legends or some of the other MOBAs out there.

JM: Oh! I didn’t expect that League of Legends would be more accessible than some other games.

SS: Yeah, it’s all about what’s accessible for you. There are games that are more accessible, but they’re not the games that I want to play. Give me a mouse that has some fast-clicking speed and a head-tracking device that allows me to look in different directions to push keyboard buttons, and I can kill people just like the rest.

JM: [laughs] That’s great.

Is there anything you’d like to add that we haven’t covered?

SS: Nope. I think you’ve covered most of it in the time we’re allowed.

JM: I’m just blown away by the things you guys are accomplishing, and I’m so happy that it’s helping you, as well. It sounds like it’s doing a lot for you.

SS: You know, it’s good to be able to do things for other people when you can’t necessarily do for yourself.

JM: Alright. I really appreciate your time. You’ve been very generous.

SS: Hey. No problem, man. Let me know—some day when you’re big and famous, remember us. [laughs]

JM: [laughs] Alright. I’ll see what I can do.

SS: Alright, my friend. Take care.

Conclusion by Josh Morgan

This episode of The Plural of You was produced by me, Josh Morgan, in snowy Edinboro, Pennsylvania. Mike Martinez created the music.

You can find show notes, past episodes, and other resources at pluralofyou.org. You can keep in touch and get other stories about people helping people on Facebook and Twitter at pluralofyou. If you’d like to have the next episode sent to you automatically, visit pluralofyou.org/subscribe and subscribe to the podcast.

If you liked my talk with Steve, check out Episode 14 with Julius Sweetland. He’s the creator of OptiKey, a free eye tracking app that allows those with limited mobility to type. You can find that at pluralofyou.org/014.

In closing, here’s a homework assignment.

The next time you get the urge to play a video game, try to make it one that you can play with others, either online or in person. Like I said earlier, cooperative gaming can lead to cooperative behaviors elsewhere, and we could always use more of that in the world.

That’s all for now. Thanks for helping.