The advertising and marketing world has been doubling down on its inclusivity and accessibility efforts. During the Oscars, for example, Snap debuted a campaign inspired by the deaf community showing users how to fingerspell through its lenses, while Google’s spot highlighted its Look to Speak app for individuals with motor and speech impairment. Now, an AB InBev beer brand is setting out to make gaming more inclusive and enjoyable for deaf players—by bringing sign language to their chats.
AB InBev’s Pilsen Callao worked with DDB and the agency’s gaming group FTW to launch “E-nterpreters,” a tool designed to help deaf players connect more closely with their peers while gaming.
The campaign film notes that there are more than 300 million deaf gamers around the world, yet many end up feeling excluded because of difficulties in communication on popular gaming platforms. It goes on to depict a pair of deaf gamers expressing their frustration over being unable to bond during gaming chats, leading them to drop out of games and just play by themselves.
"E-nterpreters" sets out to address such struggles with a bot crafted specifically for Discord. Powered with the help of Google artificial intelligence, the bot “listens” to Discord chats and translates those conversations into sign language communicated by an on-screen avatar.
Also read: How DDB is targeting gaming marketing with specialized network DDB FTW
“Before ‘E-nterpreters,’ there was no other communication tool created for deaf people in online games,” explained Sergio Franco, executive creative director of Fahrenheit DDB Peru. “They usually communicated by writing through the game's chat or changing their username so everyone could identify them as deaf gamers, but this brought them complications since they were usually kicked out of the game or not accepted.”
Developing the bot was a taxing, ten-month process, “one of the most demanding challenges because we had to do much research within the community and struggle with not much public data available,” Franco said. From there, the agency worked with various ASL groups and deaf and hard-of-hearing gamers to develop a truly useful tool.
While some might question the advantages of sign language chat over text-based chat, Franco noted that the former "makes a difference in the user experience. The deaf community is more familiarized with sign language for real-time translation, as this is more regular on national TV. It also can be more effective and provide more information in less time, and it is easier to visualize during games without getting distracted. Finally, it can convey more emotion than text."
The campaign speaks to the “Beer of Friendship” platform on which the Pilsen Callao brand has been built. “The main objective is to get more deaf people integrated into this new socialization space that video games allow,” said Franco.
The bot officially dropped on March 22, seeded on Pilsen Callao’s social networks with the help of popular streamers and pro gamers. According to DDB, within the first week, it had organically reached more than 1 million views, and 75% of Peru’s deaf gaming community had downloaded it. This week, the bot will also be implemented by Beast Coast, a gaming group that made it to the Dota International Finals.
So far, the campaign has led to about 453K words being translated, the equivalent of around 35 per minute on each Discord server. It can be used with any game that supports Discord as a communication platform, including Call of Duty, Fortnite and Dota.
The bot, however, is open-sourced and was intentionally designed to be easily integrated into YouTube, Twitch streaming and metaverse platforms. PIlsen Callao is actively encouraging other developers to integrate it into more spaces. To “help us increase the library of movements, languages, and signs, complementing the current machine learning,” Franco said.