A video featuring Danik Soudakoff, a 14-year-old who is deaf and a fan of Overwatch League‘s Los Angeles Valiant team, will be broadcast today on the ABC and Twitch.
The video of Soudakoff, posted yesterday on Twitter, focused on the experience of being at live Overwatch League games, as well as playing the game itself. In turn, Soudakoff’s experience also brought the topic of accessibility to the forefront of video games and esports.
“When I walk into the Blizzard Arena, there are just so many visual stimulants,” Soudakoff signed using ASL in the video produced by ESPN. “There are lights; people are cheering. It’s just really thrilling for me.”
To Soudakoff, being at an Overwatch game and cheering for teams alongside everyone else feels like he’s both in heaven and at home. Another reason why Soudakoff enjoys Overwatch as a whole is because he finds that the game is creative, colorful, filled with explosions, and creates that feeling of constant action.
Soudakoff’s favorite Overwatch hero is Mercy, because they both enjoy helping others. In Soudakoff’s case, he takes pride in creating customized Overwatch signs.
“…As a Deaf player, I have to look and I have to see. So creating the signs will help other Deaf people play faster and communicate more effectively,” he explained and showed the signs for Genji and Mercy shortly after.
During last year’s Overwatch League, Soudakoff was also featured in Blizzard Entertainment’s Watchpoint series and got to meet the Los Angeles Valiant team after their game in Stage 4, Week 3. In the video, Soudakoff featured the signs for Widowmaker, Genji, Junkrat, Winston, and Mercy.
Since then, Soudakoff has continued to champion accessibility for other players. On his YouTube channel, there is a video showcasing the signs for Overwatch characters. Over on Twitter, he has indicated his interest in uploading more YouTube content in the near future.
Amy Chen is an esports journalist and enthusiast who specializes in in-depth interviews and breaking news. A recent University of Toronto and Humber College graduate, she is passionate about building up the Canadian esports industry. Her current favourite games are Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm, and she has always had a soft spot for World of Warcraft!