When you play an online game, 99% of the time you don't know who is on the other end of the microphone. They could be male, female, white, black, Asian, able-bodied, disabled, etc etc.. All these people live lives full of different variables but it doesn't change the fact that they're still human and they should be treated like one. Sadly, some people in online games can be pretty cruel and will take any chance they get to bully people. This was the case for disabled Twitch streamer Adam "Loop" Bahriz.
17-year-old Adam Bahriz is legally blind and deaf but still manages to play his favorite game, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, live on Twitch. He started streaming back in 2015 for fun and has been balancing school and streaming ever since his streams began getting more views. On Monday, he was playing CS:GO as usual and upon entering a match he told his teammates what he tells everyone else; he has a genetic condition which lead to the removal of his teeth, causing him to sound slightly different.
Bahriz suffers from a disease called HSAN. It's a disease that affects the nervous system, it's different for everyone but in Bahriz's case, it has cost him his vision, hearing, and teeth.
“HSAN does not mean you are born blind, or half deaf, or whatever, there are some people with this condition that have normal vision but an injured foot. Perfect speech but improper vision,” Bahriz said over an email interview with Kotaku. “HSAN makes a person more prone to injuries because they don’t feel pain and are unable to be treated for injuries right away, which allows the injury to get worse.”
Bahriz says that his condition usually doesn't affect his teammates and they're generally positive. “In more than 80% of cases, this is not an issue at all. Responses to this … are generally positive."
Unfortunately, players thought Bahriz was just trolling and told him “not even to try it” and instead of fighting, he just told the other players he wouldn't use his mic during the match. Later in the match, his team kicked him for not talking.
“I was honestly caught off guard by the way my team reacted,” Bahriz said. “I was shocked and sad at the same time … did they all have a bad day?”
It should be noted that Bahriz is not a bad player despite his conditions, he's actually really damn good. You can see some of his best plays in a video below. He manages to pull off triple kills, clutch plays, and incredible shots that even the most able-bodied players wouldn't be able to do without a lot of skill.
"At that point all I could think about was all the bullshit I’ve had to deal with on ESEA for the longest time, not because of a completely lacking of ability to talk, or mechanical skill, or anything like that, but just because of a small speech problem that is caused by something I have no control over.”
One viewer who felt bad for seeing Bahriz getting pushed around decided to go on Reddit and gather some CS:GO fans to show him some love. They did exactly that. Moments later thousands of viewers tuned in to his stream and hundreds of dollars in donations began to pour in.
“At this very moment my mom is making a phone call to the only clinic in Southern California that does the eye surgery that I need, telling them that she will be able to pay out of pocket (because of stream donations),” he said. He was previously unable to afford this surgery because they didn’t take his insurance. He also said he’s signed a partnership deal with Twitch, and he’s hoping the money from subscriptions can help fund a summer trip to Algeria. “Honestly all these donations have given me, a 17 year old, a level of financial security that I cannot even begin to fathom,”
Bahriz wasn't going to let this moment go without giving a shout-out to the dozens of other handicapped players who go through the same struggles.
“You think I’m the only one who manages to play this game semi-decently with a handicap? Look at Handi, dude has no arms and still destroys people.”
“It really shouldn’t be that difficult to distinguish a troll from an actual disabled person. Had the players that kicked me looked at my profile for one second they would’ve easily seen that I’ve been a member of ESEA for far longer than them and have much higher karma,” he said. “So just try to be more respectful and considerate of the people you play with. I understand that trolling and bad stuff happen in CS:GO but there is a line that cannot be crossed, and people need to learn to recognize where that line is.”
If you want to show Adam Bahriz some love, you can click here to go to his Twitch stream. It's good to see that even on a place as cruel and dark as the internet, some great, heartwarming stories can come out of it.