After 15 years, Call of Duty is giving a Rochester man credit for his contributions

Randy Fitzgerald feature interview
Randy Fitzgerald feature interview(Chuck Sibley)
Published: Nov. 19, 2021 at 5:53 PM CST
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – It has been 15 years since a promise was broken, but credit is finally being given to a Rochester man who helped make one of the largest video game franchises, Call of Duty, more assessible to those like him, with physical disabilities.

Randy Fitzgerald, a former professional video game player now turned Facebook Live streamer, tells KTTC he never really thought about the impact his way of playing video games would have on others.

Born with arthrogryposis, Fitzgerald is unable to use his legs or arms.

“There’s that saying that every man has to have their sport or competition, and that’s what video games kind of are to me,” Fitzgerald said.

He says he started getting into video games at about the age of three or four.

“My dad used to go to a local bowling alley in Belle Plaine, Iowa and they had arcade machines. He would take me with him when he would go bowling with his buddies, and he could see me just light up when I’d look at these arcade machines,” Fitzgerald said. “He would take a pinball machine, and he would pull it up next to the Pacman machine, take me out of my wheelchair, and lay me on my stomach so my chin could reach the joystick.”

Fitzgerald says he has been hooked ever since.

From there, he attended and won a Pacman tournament at four years old, received several invitations to Electronic Entertainment Expositions and even made appearances at gaming launch parties.

It was not until 2006 that the outside world saw how Fitzgerald actually played.

“I put my chin on the D-pad and my top lip on the A and B buttons,” Fitzgerald said.

He soon became the face of accessible gaming.

When he was given the opportunity to play a test version of “Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare” in 2006, Fitzgerald went to a forum page to suggest a button layout that could make the game better and easier for everyone.

“25,000 people replied to it,” Fitzgerald said.

So, that is exactly what the developers did, used his idea.

The button layout became one of the first major accessibility features in a video game for people with disabilities and was a key part of most of the Call of Duty versions released after that.

The feature is named after Randy’s gamer tag, N0m4d, and all he wanted in return was his legal name in the credits. 15 years later, Raven Software finally gave him that credit.

“It feels amazing just because you know, as you can see I’m wearing my cannula and I’ve been having some health issues lately, and I don’t know where those health issues are going to go. So, it was nice to see that. It’s nice to see that I’m getting the credit that I’ve worked for 20 years. Never asking for a dime from anybody. To see that credit, it just feels good. I’m glad I get to see it while I can,” Fitzgerald said.

To contact Randy Fitzgerald or join one of his live streams, you can find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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