I see a lot of things slowly. I sometimes have to consciously work out what things are, and I miss many things in my environment simply because I don’t have enough time to notice them: people on bicycles, for instance, or something I’m looking for on a shelf, or vacuum hoses. (“What’s that thing–a snake? No, it’s too big to be in anything but the rain forest. And it’s not moving”). While needing time to process what I’m looking at is more of a problem in real space than when looking at a screen, I’ve found a tool that helps me learn Street Fighter II skills by slowing the game down to something that’s more my speed.
A while ago I bought a Super Nintendo Quick Shot for its joystick; its features “for professionals” like the turbo and slow motion switches didn’t interest me at all. This week I finally hooked it up with Street Fighter II–again, for its joystick: I got tired of trying to do a “quarter-circle-forward” with a D-pad and analog stick–and I’ve discovered that its ability to render animations in slow motion is…really helpful, actually.
When turned on, the slow motion switch makes all movement visible one frame at a time. Without having to reflexively respond–the whole “fight or flight” thing–I started to think more defensively. Since E. Honda’s stuck doing that silly hand-slapping thing on the other side of the screen, a hadoken would be really useful about now….When Chun-Li jumps at me, why don’t I just uppercut her out of the sky? [The Dragon Punch is way too advanced for me at this point: I don’t even go there.]
The slow-mo switch that can be found on many older enhanced controllers isn’t the perfect accessibility tool–it would be nice if there were gradations of speed, rather than just the one-frame-at-a-time/default speed binary–but it does a pretty good job of something that it probably wasn’t intended to do in the first place. Today, programs like CPU Killer can be used to slow down computer games so that people with disabilities can play them, and looks like it features gradations of speed. But it’s nice to know that, even in the 16-bit era, some mainstream technology could make games playable to some gamers with disabilities.