Xtreme Deaf Gamers Clan – Where “No One Can Hear You Scream”
By Angela Alvarez
When Andrew Gurry competes online in Xbox Live multi-player matches, he has no need for the flimsy grey headset. Instead, he keeps a sleek, silver T-Mobile Sidekick II near, ready to communicate with his clan members between matches because losing focus during battle, even for one second, can be costly. He and his clan have their strategy down prior to the fight, so all through the match they are focused on their goal: victory. Whenever they take down an adversary, Gurry and his team cannot hear the sweet moaning sound effect of the enemy dying, but the pleasure resonates in them as it would in any other gamer. What distinguishes this clan from others is that it primarily consists of deaf players, who have recently grouped to form Xtreme Deaf Gamers.
Prior to the creation of the clan, Gurry, co-founder and co-leader of XDG, felt the need for a group where deaf gamers could bond and play together. “I just wanted my own clan where everyone was deaf and even. With everyone being deaf, we do not see any difficulties in communicating with each other,” he explains. That initial desire has drawn the interest of many others, to there point where currently there are roughly 30 members communicating using messaging programs and T-Mobile Sidekicks, which Gurry believes is the staple of an XDG member: “Xbox Live’s text system is so cumbersome and the pager is much more expedited,” said Gurry. Before and between matches, clan members chat through these devices and formulate strategies for competing against other teams. XDG currently only competes on Rainbow Six: Vegas ladders, but will form up to compete in Forza Motorsport 2 and Halo 3. Currently in second place on a Rainbow Six: Vegas 5v5 Worldwide Teams ladder, this new clan is proving to the gaming world that they are here to fight and win.
Besides its competitive edge, the gaming community knows XDG for its friendliness toward players. Josh Peacock, a member, notes, “The purpose of the community is to recruit deaf gamers. We show good attitude and show a lot of respect for others.” The Xbox Anti-Cheating Alliance acknowledged this code of cordiality and honored XDG as their first ‘Team of the Month’ this past February. “We at XACA felt they deserved it more than any other team on our ladders at this point in time. It is simply inspiring from a gaming point of view to watch and play alongside these guys. It is astonishing how good they gel and play together without vocal communication,” remarked Kyle Armit, a staff member at XACA. Even though there is no verbal chat between XDG and anyone they play with, they are still an enjoyable group to compete against in friendly or competitive matches, taking losses just as agreeably as they take wins.
XDG has become a haven for deaf gamers who might have felt uncomfortable playing with gamers who can hear. Playing with such gamers poses difficulties for those who are deaf such as not being able to communicate during battle. Gurry knows from experience that deaf gamers do face hardships for not using headsets. “It seems some people feel anyone without a mic is not worth having in the room, and instantly boot us without giving us a chance to play,” he said. XDG opens up more gaming opportunities for deaf gamers, and allows them to have a more enjoyable online experience.
Since members now interact with other deaf gamers across America and overseas, they have a much richer online experience than ever before. Chris Damron, the other co-founder and co-leader of XDG, appreciates the difference this clan has made for him. “I now have a passion for gaming that I never had before, solely because I was unable to communicate with everyone else on the server,” he commented. The formation of this clan has renewed passion for many of their players, like Brett Crouch, a High Council member, who said, “I didn’t care to join in a server full of hearing gamers because I always felt like I was playing with bots. But with a server full of deaf gamers, I really feel like I am playing with humans! I feel blessed and it’s only going to get better in the future!”
In order to get a better idea of the purpose and communication of XDG, I played Rainbow Six: Vegas with them one night. While we waited in the lobby, Gurry laid down the game plan for me through instant messages. After knowing what our strategy was, I suddenly felt more confident about entering the match without being able to communicate verbally with my team members
In an Attack and Defend (Rescue the Hostages) match, XDG members and I moved swiftly as a group. XDG often improvises in game with bullets, using them to direct orders and give signals. “For example… if the leader wants me to be in a specific cover, he’d get my attention by shooting at my feet. Then when I see him, he’d shoot at a specific cover for me to go to,” explained Crouch.
By playing with them, I was able to get a better idea of why they play so well together. However, the importance of XDG shone brilliantly because of a trash-talking player in the lobby.
“Everyone who has a mic – get on the defense team. Only the cool kids have mics,” the player commented.
I sat there in shock, that someone could be spiteful simply because another player is not using a headset. Yet it also made me understand the need for a clan like XDG that seeks to include those that might feel left out among others. XDG focuses on giving deaf gamers a better chance to get involved in online gaming, and connects them into a network where they all have two things in common – being deaf and being passionate about games.
For more information, to join XDG or to issue a challenge, check out their website at http://www.xtremedeafgamers.com