In 2006, quadriplegic video game tester and streamer Randy Fitzgerald helped create “NOM4D,” a button layout for Call of Duty designed for disabled players. At the time, he says, he was told he’d be credited by name in the game, but that didn’t happen. All CoD titles since then have omitted his name too, but kept the layout. Now, after 15 years, Fitzgerald is being credited in the latest game, Call of Duty Vanguard. And he is understandably happy about finally having his name appear in the credits!
As reported by Post Bulletin, Randy Fitzgerald is now a Facebook Gaming streamer living in Rochester, New York. But before that he worked on games and in 2007, he helped create a controller layout for disabled gamers playing Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. While testing the game, Fitzgerald had issues playing due to his disability, arthrogryposis, making it impossible for him to use his legs or arms. Infinity Ward, the devs behind CoD 4, made changes to the game and created a layout based on Fitzgerald’s ideas and feedback. It was named after his online username “NOM4D” and Infinity Ward promised to include his name in the credits too. But after the blowup between the studio and Activision following CoD 4, that never happened as most of the devs behind the game had left.
“I was disappointed they lost contact with me,” explained Fitzgerald. And that, he thought, was the end of the story. He had helped create one of the earliest accessibility features in a triple-A video game franchise, predating the current wave of added accessibility options, but this pioneer was never properly credited for it. However, things changed earlier this year, ahead of the release of the newest game in the popular FPS series, Call of Duty: Vanguard.
It turns out Raven Software, one of the many studios working on the massive game was curious where the “NOM4D” layout came from, why it was called that, and its history. Eventually, they tracked it back to Fitzgerald and contacted him.
“I told them the whole story and they said ‘that’s messed up,’” Fitzgerald said. “They asked me what I would like, probably thinking I would ask for money, but I just wanted to be credited. I wanted what was promised to me.”
Shortly after this, he had a virtual meeting with the Raven Software devs and shared some thoughts on what else could be done to help improve the game’s accessibility features. However, after that meeting, communication with the studio and Activision went radio silent once again and Fitzgerald says he assumed it was history repeating itself once more.
But once the game was out, Raven Software contacted Fitzgerald and offered him a free copy of the game and suggested he check out the credits. After he saw his name in the credits he was ecstatic.
“Of all the games I’ve worked on over the years, this is the first time I’ve been credited,” he said.
Now he’s hopeful that this could help him get more jobs in the industry, helping to make more games more accessible to more players.
“I think everybody’s goal on earth should be to leave a mark and make the world a little bit better, and I feel like I kind of did that.”