Color Blind Gamer: One Man’s Struggle in a Harsh World of Hues

I’m color-blind. I’m not a dog, the world doesn’t appear like an old Charlie Chaplin film. I just can’t tell the difference between colors that share similar qualities: yellows and greens, dark reds and dark browns, purples and blues.

I’m also a gamer.

It’s a frustrating existence to say the least. Games depend on split-second decisions, and when I have to contemplate whether the guy in the corner with an M4 is friend or foe, I’m usually the one that’s blown to pieces.

I’m not alone, either. My cone-deprived brethren understand my pain.
When it comes down to it, color blindness is a disability in every sense of the term. It’s a tough life.

In an attempt to inspire empathy in the gaming world, I’ve compiled a list of things you should know before playing with a color-blind gamer.

Co-Pilots Needed. Accepting Applications
‘Hexic HD’ for the Xbox Live Arcade involves destroying colored bombs in a certain number of turns by matching blocks on a grid.

The developers included a genius option for color-blind gamers which applies symbols to different colored blocks.

There’s just one problem: they didn’t put the symbols on the bombs. So, I can’t tell what ‘color’ a bomb is, though I can clearly tell the ‘colors’ of those blocks around it. Genius, indeed.

What do I do? I grab the closest person for some bipartisan gaming, a Co-Pilot. They become my eyes, and they win vicariously through me.
Don’t shun the color-blind gamer in need. The Co-Pilot is his only hope. He’s the Obi-Wan to the gamer’s Leia, the phone-a-friend to his ‘Millionaire,’ the copy-editor to his newspaper. Without the Co-Pilot, he’s hopeless.

And what’s a few moments of your time? You’re helping a disabled person accomplish a dream of theirs. You’re the Make-a-Wish foundation for the non-terminally ill.

Free-For-Alls Are Safest
Which team loses in a first person shooter? Whichever team I’m on, usually.

I end up killing all my teammates. It’s not my fault most first person shooters use a color system to separate teams.

So, the yellow guys are my team, but the green guys are the bad guys? Okay, that’ll be easy to keep up with while everyone’s running around like Godzilla just curb-stomped Tokyo.

Let’s ditch the teams for an all-out free-for-all. When I can shoot everyone, whether they’re on my team or not, I’m on a level playing field. It’s like I’m Dick Cheney on a hunting trip: it doesn’t matter who you are, I’ll shoot you.

The next time you’re online and get capped by a teammate, think for a minute before calling him a ‘noob.’ He might have a disability. Would you yell at a guy in a wheelchair if he held you up in a line? Didn’t think so.

Trust Nothing
Alright, I’ve got one life left. There’s a mushroom power-up in front of me. Supposedly the orange ones heal me and the red ones kill me… damn it.
Being a color-blind gamer instills paranoia and distrust in an individual. I know the rules of the game, but I am physically incapable of following them correctly.

Take for instance the mini-map in the ‘Grand Theft Auto’ series. The blue dot is where you need to be, the purple dot is a side quest. Huh… those sure looks like a lot of side quests’hellip;or are those a ton of main objectives? You know what, forget it. I’ll go run over some hookers, instead.

This lack of faith in the virtual world is the fuel that drives the fire for the antithesis of the Co-Pilot: the Jerk. Where the Co-Pilot is pure of heart, the trusty esquire of the noble knight that is the gamer, the Jerk is more like Snidely Whiplash, a pain-in-the-ass meddler performing evil for evil’s sake.

The Jerk will convince the color-blind gamer that the mushroom up ahead is a healing mushroom, when it really spells certain death for the hero. He’ll direct a player to dots on the mini-map that are anywhere but where the player wants to be, replying with a smirked, ‘Oops, my bad. It’s really that one.’

Hours of gameplay are lost to the Jerk, and there’s little a color-blind gamer can do about it. Either we struggle through the game as if it were an original text of ‘Gilgamesh’ with no Rosetta Stone, or we take a leap of faith in the advice of a fellow human, hoping he’s a Co-Pilot, not a Jerk. Alas, the world is full of many Jerks and few Co-Pilots.

My Character: The Disaster
With each generation of gaming, character customization is vastly improved. Gamers can change the skin color, hair and clothes of their avatars to whatever their hearts desire. Creating a likeness of yourself, Dennis Rodman or Homer Simpson is just a few minutes and a dash of creativity away.

Too bad I can’t tell if my character has peach or green skin.

I think my character looks cool, but then I’m informed by the time I’m level 20 that his clothes are horribly unmatched, his hair is a strange shade of teal and his skin resembles an orange peel. I’m level 20 already, I’m not starting over. Looks like I’ll forever be the screw-up of this game server.

Customization is one of the great options we have in this age of gaming. But for color-blind gamers like me, it’s a gauntlet filled with certain doom. I literally can’t create a character from scratch without a Co-Pilot. I grab a friend and tell him how I want my character, like I’m ordering a foot long at Subway.

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