Play connects: Two words that probably trigger some kind of positive memory in every passionate gamer. In the case of Zhu Mingjun, however, they reach a new dimension, because the former Chinese firefighter found new courage in life through his hobby.
But pursuing this hobby is not as natural for him as it is for most people. He has been paralyzed from the waist down since a serious accident and can only move his head and, to a small extent, his chest.
Numerous other physically handicapped gamers feel the same way, and if you want to hear first-hand what it’s like to be a blind person and still be a passionate gambler, listen to our podcast guest Christian Ears:
link to Podcast Content
At the beginning of his subsequent streaming career, Zhu Mingjun was worried that people would judge him for his looks, but when he defeated one Elden Ring boss after another using just his mouth in March 2022, thousands upon thousands cheered him on.
The mouth controller, which consists of two blow tubes, is anything but plug & play, because Zhu Mingjun had to make repeated adjustments to the improvised control before it finally obeyed it completely.
While accessibility in games is making progress, it is still very often neglected or even completely ignored. In our 2016 report, those affected told us how creative they had to be to be able to pursue their hobby:
Our report on gaming with disabilities
More impressive than bananas
It’s nothing new that Souls titles like Elden Ring are often played through with unusual input methods – such as eleven wired bananas. The fine motor skills that the 29-year-old Chinese demonstrates with just his mouth is absolutely remarkable.
In his streams on the Chinese video platform bilibili he performs even the most complex maneuvers using only two plastic tubes that he adjusted to the millimeter with his lips. Necessity is the mother of invention, as a Canadian proved when he designed a one-handed PS4 controller.
Despite his mother’s concerns, he dedicates several hours in the evening to his viewers. There are now over a hundred thousand of them and some of his videos even break the million mark. They are not only about gaming, but also often about his personal story and how he found his new purpose in life: to help other people with mental problems.
In this context, we can also recommend the blog of GameStar reader Onsche, which bears the descriptive name »The Onehand-Gamer – When two fingers are enough«.
From needy to helper
When Zhu Mingjun fell badly while on duty as a firefighter on July 9, 2013, his life changed forever. Like him the South China Morning Post told it would take a full three years before he could speak again and even today he is still dependent on a ventilator.
Despite the support of his mother, his injury repeatedly led to melancholy feelings of loneliness, which made him beg several times to just let him die.
Important NOTE: If you have depression or self-destructive thoughts yourself, you are not alone. Please get help. For example, with the telephone counseling service on 0800/111 0 111 or at free counseling centers.
A psychologist finally brought about the emotional change and, according to his own statement, the many encouragements from his viewers gave him strength:
»Streaming has completely changed my life. I’ve made so many new friends and I don’t feel alone like I used to. I enjoy the joy that streaming brings me and on top of that I can make money from it.«
Today, Zhu Mingjun is a certified psychological counselor himself, helping his clients regain their courage to live, no matter how dark their imaginations may be. Streaming helps him gain the trust of young people. He could show them that he was in a similar situation and now wants to help them overcome theirs as well.