Shining (and Splatting) Through Adversity
One Colorblind Arkansas Player Isn’t Letting His Disability Get in the Way in Competing in Splatoon 3
When one thinks of Splatoon™ 3, one of the first things that come to mind are the very bright and varying colors used to compete in battle, with players on both sides of the turf working to make their chosen color saturate the battlefield. However, for freshman Splatoon 3 player, Jayden McCreary at Green Forest High School in Arkansas, all that he sees are two different shades of gray.
Born partially blind, an accident in the 3rd grade made Jayden fully colorblind. All colors to him appear as different shades of gray, with very subtle differences to distinguish between their actual colors. And while he does have glasses that could correct many of his color issues, Jayden often chooses not to wear them, including when he is competing in Splatoon 3. Not wanting to allow his disadvantage to define him, Jayden has learned to distinguish between the two colored inks on the battlefield by their variations on the grayscale.
Having just started the program in the Spring of 2022, Head Coach Jon Taylor had no prior experience with Splatoon 3. He learned about the game from watching the match streams of Coach April Coats at Northside High School. From there he got in contact with Coach Coats to ask her how the game works. He soon realized how fast paced and competitive the game could be and pitched it as a starting game for their program and had four interested students, just enough to field a Splatoon 2 team. Moving into the Fall 2022 season with the launch of Splatoon 3, Coach Taylor saw the interest in the latest version of the game surge. He now had enough interested students to field three teams, including adding incoming freshman, Jayden.
Just like Coach Taylor, Splatoon 3 was also a new experience for Jayden. Having received his first console from his father at 5, Jayden was no stranger to video games or popular platformers like Super Smash Bros. Having just received his own Nintendo Switch before joining the esports program at Green Forest and at the encouragement of Coach Taylor, Jayden decided to give it a try, rounding out the programs third Splatoon 3 team. “It was just a new opportunity to try a new game so I jumped at it.”
When competing against another high school this season in Splatoon 3, Jayden has learned very quickly how important strategy is. When analyzing an opponent Jayden looks at their gameplay, past game stats, and what gear they choose to use. Taking the time to study his opponents throughout the match is what has allowed him and his team to have two come-from-behind wins this season going down 2-0 only to come back and win 3 games straight. For himself, his go-to item is the Dynamo Roller especially when they are competing at Scorch Gorge where the Dynamo Roller can be used most effectively.
Coach Taylor remembers one particular match that really stood out. “In an overtime match, they had just gotten the tower, and [Jayden] comes flying off the tower and flinging his roller and wipes two of them out. The team erupted into cheers. Jayden was their clutch on that”. Jayden’s ability in the game surprised Coach Taylor so much that he didn’t even initially know that Jayden was colorblind. He didn’t learn till after their first match that he was distinguishing between the different shades of gray that he was seeing.
Jayden does admit that there are some obstacles for him when it comes to competing in Splatoon 3. It can sometimes be difficult to distinguish his teammates from the opposing team and specials like a booyah bomb. Jayden says in these moments it is really great to have all of his teammates in the same room where they can easily discuss and coordinate strategy. Through their guidance and teamwork, he is able to overcome these obstacles.
Having been born with a club foot leaving him in a cast for the first couple of years of his life, Jayden is no stranger to facing challenges. He attributes his ability to overcome adversity to great role models like Coach Taylor and his desire to always try his best. “An impairment really isn’t an impediment if you don’t let it be, you just have to learn to try harder. You’re the same as anyone else, there’s not a big difference.”