Disability inclusion in esports and gaming can ‘change the makeup of society’

Brisbane’s Justin Hua, 28, has always enjoyed playing video games.

Like many kids of the 1990s it started with a Game Boy and eventually progressed to online games once he had access to a “10 year old computer that sounded like a vacuum cleaner and little to no internet.” 

While his internet connection eventually improved, Justin’s hobby turned into something far more impactful when he became a C3 quadriplegic at the age of 19.

“Being able to play video games during my recovery, and even now has been a very important part of my life,” he said. 

“It has helped me get through some of the roughest parts of being a quadriplegic.

“It served as a distraction at times, but it also enabled me to challenge myself and problem solve, as well as connect with others and even help some people.”

Finding QuadStick 

Justin was on his green Ps, when he was driving on Mount Nebo just outside of Brisbane, with his brother in the passenger seat.

He was as an apprentice mechanic, and was tired after a long day.

The car veered off the road, and both he and his brother broke their necks.  

Justin spent 3 weeks in ICU, and 7 months in the Spinal Injuries Unit at the Princess Alexandra Hospital. 

“Don’t be stingy when it comes to buying tyres, and don’t drive tired,” he said.

Without any movement below his neck, he wasn’t sure whether he’d be able to return to gaming.

“There weren’t many game controller options for higher-level quadriplegics, just basic adaptive mouses to use a computer, with left or right click, scroll and up down left right arrows,” he said.

A group of young men at the hospital discovered the QuadStick, a mouth-operated adaptive game controller, which allowed Justin to rejoin the gaming scene.

A man wears a strap around his head and a joystick in his mouth, in the foreground is a screenshot of a car racing video game
A Quadstick user playing a video game with the controller. (Supplied: Quadstick)

He has also shared his knowledge, after being put in touch with a young man who had broken his neck and wanted to see if he could play Fortnite. 

“So I created a new gaming profile on the QuadStick with different inputs on an Excel spreadsheet and give it a go so he could see how it all worked,” he said.

“The experience gave me purpose and showed me that I could still help people.”

Re-imagining an inclusive society

Inclusion in design is a key focus of Griffith University’s interdisciplinary alliance, Inclusive Futures: Re-imagining Disability. 

It aims “to solve the most pressing challenges within disability and rehabilitation”, and has a focus on three areas, live, work, and play — which promotes inclusive sport and recreation. 

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