How a disabled gamer uses his feet to play Final Fantasy 14

With two hands, casting the dozens of spells I have in an MMO can sometimes feel overwhelming. Playing with your feet, then, is nothing short of amazing. Stevie Rex is a gamer with TAR syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that leaves Stevie without bones in his forearms. For him, holding a controller or using a keyboard and mouse with his hands is impossible. But with the help of Final Fantasy 14's flexible 'cross bar' system, Stevie can adventure around Eorzea and slay monsters with the best of them using just his feet.

"I [have] always been interested in playing MMOs but the other options are so hard to play due to having to use my feet," he writes in a Reddit post. "That [isn't] the case with FF14, however, as thanks to the amazing idea that is the cross bar system, I can play the game really well." That's evident as Stevie's video shows him unleashing hell on a striking dummy to show how adeptly he can play.

Thanks to the amazing idea that is the cross bar system, I can play the game really well.

The secret to this is FF14's ability bar that was designed for those playing on the PS4. One of the most complicated aspects of MMOs is that most characters have several dozen abilities they need immediate access to in combat. Lacking a more elegant solution, players are forced to spread them across their keyboards. It's a lot to manage if you're new to the genre—especially with the frantic pace of combat at higher levels.

So how do you translate all that complexity to a Dualshock 4 controller with only eight face buttons (including the d-pad)? Square Enix devised an elegant system where pressing shoulder buttons provides access to modular ability bars. While you might only have access to eight abilities directly, a quick press of R2 can open that up to another eight abilities, and so on. It's such a great system that I prefer using it over a keyboard depending on what class I'm playing. You can see how it works in the video below. 

As Stevie demonstrates, this feature is also a godsend for players with disabilities that make playing with their hands a challenge. He's been playing this way for a few years now and is pretty damn good at it too—no easy feat for the Machinist class which is one of the most complicated in FF14.

What I love is that Stevie didn't upload this video to show off his own skill, but as a thank you to Square Enix for designing a system that lets him enjoy MMOs. As he says in the comments, it's not a perfect solution and there's plenty of adjustments to be made that would improve Stevie's experience—which I hope Square Enix considers.

Encouraged by the positive response to his video, Stevie plans to start uploading more videos showcasing his unique way of playing. Along with players like OneHandFPS, the CS:GO player with a paralyzed hand, I hope we see a whole lot more of these inspiring stories. 

Steven Messner

With over 7 years of experience with in-depth feature reporting, Steven's mission is to chronicle the fascinating ways that games intersect our lives. Whether it's colossal in-game wars in an MMO, or long-haul truckers who turn to games to protect them from the loneliness of the open road, Steven tries to unearth PC gaming's greatest untold stories. His love of PC gaming started extremely early. Without money to spend, he spent an entire day watching the progress bar on a 25mb download of the Heroes of Might and Magic 2 demo that he then played for at least a hundred hours. It was a good demo.