Blind singer's an avid gamer

Blind singer's an avid gamer

Singer Kelvin Tan isn't letting his blindness stop him from gaming.

"If I weren't blind, I would definitely be a very big gamer," said Tan, 30, who plays games on his smartphone, laptop and on his Nintendo Wii.

"But since I'm blind, I do whatever I can."

And he has something any hardcore gamer has - the will to win. The 2005 Project SuperStar winner even memorises moves for fighting games like Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter .

Tan, who uses headphones to play, says he depends on audio cues to play.

For example, in a fighting game like Street Fighter, characters shout their moves and this allows Tan to anticipate attacks. In fact, the audio can be so sophisticated now, said Tan, that he can track the progress of a fireball moving from one end of the screen to the other.

Not that that really helps if he meets a master player.

Tan said: "If a sighted person plays as much as I do, he will definitely beat me.

"However, if I play against a sighted person who is a beginner or doesn't play often, I will win." iPhone 4S and Ariadne GPS

The Apple smartphone contains features that allows the visually impaired to use it like anyone else.

"Did you know that the iPhone is fully accessible for the blind?" asked Tan as he took out his iPhone to give a demonstration of VoiceOver, a standard feature since the iPhone 3GS.

The built-in software reads out sections of the screen, allowing Tan to find his way around using apps like Ariadne GPS, as well as enjoy text-based RPG games like Mafia and World War.

Asus UL30A

While he has a more powerful laptop for home use, Tan prefer this model for its 12-hour battery life, which comes in useful when he travels.

"It's just a normal Asus that's quite battered," said Tan.

"Even when my friends play Flash games on it, they complain that it lags!"

The laptop is good enough for Tan to play a first-person shooter game called Swamp, an audio game designed for the blind community.

Logitech Ultimate Ears TripleFi 10

Tan was willing to fork out the big bucks for this pair of earphones - it costs $649 from the Logitech website.

He said: "If you are very into audio, you will know that sound quality differs greatly between the good and cheap stuff.

"Most important is audio width. With a set of cheap earphones for gaming, when you are, say, in a big cavernous area, you won't be able to tell just how echo-y it sounds.

"With some headphones, you can hear if something is behind or in front."

Nintendo Wii

He may not own an Xbox or a PlayStation, but Tan does have a Nintendo Wii.

Using audio cues, Tan plays games like Wii Sports Resort.

His favourite game, however is Tatsunoko vs Capcom, an online fighting game featuring anime and video game icons from the two Japanese companies.

Tan said: "I enjoy the satisfaction of playing online knowing that I can possibly beat a sighted person.

"There's no such thing as panchan (Singlish for give chance) online either - how would they know they're playing a blind man?"


This article was first published in The New Paper.

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