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A glimpse into the life of a disabled gamer
Congo

An inspiring chat with Giulio Solito

Amidst stories of online gaming communities being a hostile place for many gamers, we’d like to take a moment to chat with a person who can inspire us all. Meet Giulio Solito, a gamer like you and I, but with a unique story. Giulio was born with muscular dystrophy and refused to let his disability get in the way of not only gaming but life as well.

Muscular dystrophy is a disease which sees increasing weakening and breakdown of muscles over time. The disability varies with regard to which muscles are affected.

He’s a passionate gamer and aspiring developer and used to love hunting and fishing—even owning his own rifle and fishing rod. After discovering the Digital Gaming League a few years ago, Giulio moved into competitive Rocket League, overcoming his disability and competing in the online league with friends. After meeting Giulio, we decided to chat to him and unravelled an inspiring story of friendship, perseverance and dedication.

Thanks so much for chatting with us, Giulio, I was hoping you could tell us a bit about yourself and your gaming history.

Hello, my name is Giulio or ‘Coolguy’. I’ve been using Coolguy6316(8) as my nickname for about 12 years. I am currently 24 years old as of 20 October. I am a web designer and have been doing web design since I was 10 years old (for now until I become a famous Game Dev).

I have been gaming since I was roughly three years old on the old Sega machines, but I mostly started when I turned five when I got my first PC and PlayStation One. I played the classics at that time—Theme Hospital, Populous and Dungeon Keeper 2— and still play them for memories, like Spiderman etc.

My favourite genres are RPGs and story games. I love a game with a good story. I own every single Telltale game; I also own every Call of Duty.

Why did you decide to go into gaming, and how did you overcome the challenges?

Growing up, I saw all the amazing games people were playing, and I wanted to be a part of it. It started with my first Sega machine, then moved onto PS1 at age five. That’s when it got even better.

It was hard for me at first as I can’t use my fingers, so I had to come up with ways to make it easier for me.

Was it your father who got you into gaming? Was he a big gamer himself, or were you the one who got him into gaming?

My parents bought me a Sega machine at around age three, so they got me started with gaming. My mother always loved the arcade games; her favourite game still today is Speedkar and UNO. My dad’s favourite game was always F1.

My dad and I always loved Call of Duty. We used to buy the new one every year for Christmas, and we used to love playing together. He would use the keyboard, and I would use the mouse. It was a lot of fun.

We played so many games together over the years—F1, Call of Duty and baseball, cricket and hunting games (those were so fun together)—and even though he was disabled like me, he never let it stop him in his life. He kept trying his best no matter what.

We understand you have a very customised playstyle, one that you yourself have perfected. Can you explain it a bit more?

Since I can’t use my fingers, I had to come up with a way that I could play, so I ended up having to have one hand on left stick and my other hand on R2, which meant I couldn’t press R2 and X, circle, square and triangle at the same time, but after a while and a lot of trying, I got used to it. Games became a bit easier for me when I got the Xbox One. The controller’s back triggers are soft and sensitive, which allows me to use my leg to push RT while my hand is on the other buttons. I still play that way today. I still use the mouse and keyboard for some games but mostly the controller. It depends on games, RTSs etc. I prefer a mouse.

Playing a competitive game like Rocket League, do you feel it’s necessary to tell your teammates (when they’re not friends of yours) that you’re in fact disabled?

I never actually told anyone that I was disabled before. I told Gingerbeard (a friend) a few months ago; everybody else only found out at Rage when they all met me.

I was nervous to tell anyone. I wasn’t sure what they would think of me if they knew or if they would treat me differently. I worried for nothing, it seemed.

Speaking of friends, you mentioned you met a lot of great people playing Rocket League. How did they respond when you first told them of your disability? Were they shocked at how good you were in spite of it?

When everyone found out I was disabled and played with my leg, they were shocked and amazed. They couldn’t believe it. Some even said I was so good they couldn’t tell at all.

Rocket League isn’t an easy game. Trust me, I suck at it. Are there any other games you’re practising at the moment, becoming more comfortable with?

At the moment, Rocket League is the game I practise the most. When I’m not playing it, I mostly just relax and enjoy a casual game or work on my own games. Currently, I’m playing Divinity Original Sin 2. I’m going to be getting the new Life Is Strange: Before the Storm soon and the new Telltale Batman (of course).

Despite being a passionate player, we hear you’re also an aspiring developer? Can you tell us more about the projects you’ve worked on or are working on?

I have been doing game development on and off for about three years, doing the tutorial series/projects on various websites and YouTube.

In February this year, I decided to try to do a game on my own without help and guides (tutorials). My friend Gingerbeard helped plan the layout and gave ideas though. After two weeks of work, I finished the game; it’s not great, and it's very short, but I finished what I wanted from it, which was to see whether I could do it. I had to think really hard making the AI logic from scratch; that alone took days. It was a great learning experience though.

I’m currently working on three games. My main game that I’ve been working on for four weeks is a first-person adventure game with puzzles and a five-chapter story (a friend is helping with the story). Second is a small zombie wave survival that I started on Friday for Halloween. The third game I’m doing in a team of 3 for a 10-day game jam.

You can find the games I have done on my indie pages:

https://coolguy6316.itch.io/

https://gamejolt.com/@Coolguy6316/games

Currently, only my first game and a test demo of the zombie wave survival are on.

As a developer, is catering for the disabled something you might look towards in any future developments, perhaps leaning towards people with similar disabilities who might not have the patience and resolve that you do?

I would love to do that soon. I’ll be looking at different ways to make it easier for people with disabilities. I heard about this new thing people have done for disabled people allowing two controllers to control one person so one person can, for example, do the left stick and the second the right stick. I’m happy people are trying to make our lives easier. I might look into that sometime. I’m also curious about trying audio-only games for blind people; I might try that someday too.

You can find out more about it and more here: http://www.ablegamers.org/

Your story is extremely inspiring, so I’m going to ask you to give us some final words of encouragement, not only for disabled gamers but all gamers who could learn a lesson from your story.

Never give up no matter what. Things are not always easy; sometimes you may feel frustrated and want to give up or just not try anymore, but keep trying because even if it takes you a long time, you’ll get it eventually. You can only get better and better, and who knows? Maybe one day you’ll be the best in whatever you want to achieve. Whether it’s in gaming or anything in life, just keep trying.