Playing with a speech disorder

Hello all. My name is Jesse and I’m new here.

I’m curious about how many people on here either have a speech disorder or play with somebody who has one. I have a stutter/stammer. The severity of my stutter changes from day to day, sometimes month to month, but in general my fluency is good enough that it doesn’t prohibit me from being able to communicate. As I generally feel more confident talking in front of people I know, I don’t let my stutter keep from enjoying this hobby, but I sometimes think about playing outside my game group, which would mean playing with strangers, which makes me anxious and embarrassed (I’m in my early 40’s. I still get embarrassed about my stutter).

If you have a speech disorder, have you ever had to deal with any misunderstandings or just people not being accepting? Have you had any negative experiences playing online?

If you play with somebody with a speech disorder, does it ever get annoying? Do you ever get irritated?

13 Likes

Welcome @Jesse_Rodriguez!

I’ve never had the experience of playing with someone with a speech impediment. I do think it’s important to always be patient with others at the gaming table and give them time or whatever they need to enjoy the game.

I think the real question is, “What would make you comfortable?” Is it okay, for example, to occasionally ask you to write something down instead or ask for clarification?

Sight, hearing, speech, and motion (even just to be able to throw some dice) are so integral to the traditional RPG experience that it’s easy for us to take them for granted. But they don’t have to be integral and games can be accessible to all. The recent Fate Accessability Toolkit is a great example of how we can make this happen. It’s a shame it doesn’t have a section on speech impediments though.

3 Likes

I appreciate you raising this issue. One of my good friends has an analogous but not identical situation, in that he has autism and Tourette’s. The latter is perhaps slightly more noticeable in games, but I have never once been annoyed or irritated by it. That’s just part of who he is, and I love him for being himself.

There are plenty of good folks out there who will not have any problems whatsoever playing with someone who stutters. If you want, you could raise it during a Session 0 and maybe explain the things you’d like during the course of the game, same as everyone else does (I often have to point out that I have a family and thus sometimes have to mute myself due to background noise).

5 Likes

It sounds like the only accommodation you generally need is for people to be patient when you’re speaking, and not interrupt or talk over you. I can’t speak for every community, but I’m fairly certain that every GM on the Gauntlet will be 100% understanding and welcoming. We have a culture of “the player is more important than the game”, and that means giving players whatever support they need in order for them to have fun.

8 Likes

Thank you for sharing and asking this question. I have played online with someone who stutters and it was not an issue at all and the advice from the other respondents is sound. I don’t think you’ll have any issues with playing in the Gauntlet, but if you are concerned, when you sign up you can always reach out to the GM ahead of time to work out the details of what would make you feel now comfortable.

3 Likes

This is a great topic and like the other posters I thank you for bringing it up. I had a friend in high school and my first foray into college who had a stutter and liked gaming. I never got frustrated or tried to make him speed up/speak clearly but I remember other people would get annoyed. Though, that was high school, not here.

That said, on the Gauntlet I don’t think anyone would mind. I’d suggest reaching out to the MC and make sure you feel comfortable first and foremost. Your comfort while gaming always comes first. This is a friendly environment and your voice will be welcome at many tables. If I ever post up a game that interests you please don’t hold back!

4 Likes

Hi, Jesse! Thanks for raising this topic! You mention that you feel more anxious when playing with strangers and are therefore more likely to stutter. I was wondering: Would it be helpful to you if the players took a few moments to introduce themselves before the game started so that they would seem less like strangers? I have done that before in games that I facilitated to foster more of a sense of community. I am sure that other MCs/facilitators would be happy to do the same, if you requested it.

In any case, you would be completely welcome in any of my games. If any of my games catch your interest, feel free to PM me so I can hold a spot for you. We can also video chat beforehand if that’s helpful. Hope to see you in a game soon!

4 Likes

Hey Jesse,

I’m a stutterer too. It might be tough to tell, but I certainly talk a bit slower than most? Maybe most isn’t the right word? I mean, I haven’t met most.

It’s come up, or my nervousness around it has come up in play with strangers. I’ve been asked to read from a game script aloud, which is certainly possible, but a bit, or more than a bit nerve-wrecking. I mean, the whole painful history of reading aloud at school. Anyway, I feel your pain, but also… I maybe could’ve viewed it as a opportunity to show my vulnerability? I mean, why play pretend with strangers? It can be kinda special opening up about something. But anyway, sometimes I’ve chickened out, and explained my nervousness around this “let’s all read from this” kind of role-playing. I get it. It’s not the game or the practice. It’s this mix of complications. Why today? I mean, maybe some other day might’ve been different? Maybe reading aloud, which isn’t really much of a thing, I mean I enjoy reading, and if I don’t really think about it, I can read just perfectly fine. I’m not sure what you were looking for?

It’s come up. People have been kind, or dismissive, or dismissively kind? I try not to infer motives.

It’s ever-present, or mostly ever-present. Sometimes it’ll go away. The thinking about. The worry. I’ve had speech therapy from elementary school through middle school. I was a bit of a mess in high school.

At 44 years old, it’s a thing, but it’s fairly manageable.

I’m not a guy who plays using the world wide web, but if I were that type of guy, I’d be fine with playing with someone who has any sort of variance.

I’m not sure if there’s something that helped me gain the nerve to play with people I didn’t know? It’s been a mixed bag, but there are decent folks out there, that you just don’t know. I mean, there’s jerks too.

There are other parts of you. There are probably other things, other aspects that are maybe off-putting as well? Having a stutter, or not having one, might be the least of your worries? I suggest not worrying so much about this one things impact on social situations, and try and be the best whole you.

This was a bit rambley. I appologize. Good luck.

6 Likes

Thank you to everybody for the replies! I’ll try to answer some questions.

“I think the real question is, “What would make you comfortable?” Is it okay, for example, to occasionally ask you to write something down instead or ask for clarification?”

-I play online with my IRL group and I will often just use the roll20 chat to get out what I need to say. If it was obvious I was having trouble being fluent It would be fine to suggest typing it.

“It sounds like the only accommodation you generally need is for people to be patient when you’re speaking, and not interrupt or talk over you.”

-Yes those are probably the two most important things!

"Would it be helpful to you if the players took a few moments to introduce themselves before the game started so that they would seem less like strangers? "

-Sort of. Knowing that other people know that I stutter actually helps me
feel less anxious.

“I’m a stutterer too…I mean, the whole painful history of reading aloud at school.”

-Oh man, Yeah. I feel that sentence in my bones. I have received failing grades because I would refuse to read out loud. Spanish class was particularly painful.

I’m floored by how nice everybody has been. I feel way more comfortable. Thank you all again.

6 Likes