13-year-old Deaf Fortnite phenom possibly first Deaf Twitch Partner
A 13-year old Deaf girl, Soleil Wheeler, is so good at popular online game Fortnite that she is possibly the first Deaf Twitch Partner. Her gaming name is Ewok.
[Clips of Ewok gaming]
Soleil is a student at the Indiana School for the Deaf. During season 8 of Fortnite, she was in the top 5 in U.S. rankings.
The Daily Moth did an interview with her that was arranged by her father, Joseph Wheeler.
I’m Soleil. *Signs name*
I’m a 13-year-old old student at Indiana School for the Deaf. I’ll be in the seventh grade this Fall.
You’ve been on the rise with your success in Fortnite. How did you become addicted to the game of Fortnite?
Yeah, I’m addicted. I’ve always liked and enjoyed games that includes strategy. It makes me think about how to win the game. That’s my motivation.
You’ve now risen to the status of Twitch partner. What’s that mean and why is that a big deal?
It’s a big deal to me because they’re “verified” meaning they’re successful and well-known streamers.
It’s big deal because I’m the first deaf gamer to be one of the partners on Twitch. Ever since Twitch was founded, this has never happened. I’m proud of this and I’m feeling really thrilled.
You’re a deaf gamer and I’m sure most of the other gamers you play against are hearing plus the game was designed to include a lot of sounds. As a deaf gamer, how do you adapt to this?
In the settings, they have a visual audio feature where they show where people are shooting. With this, I’ll know where it’s coming from or with treasure, a loot of things, guns and more, I’ll be able to know where they are.
What is the general reactions when you kill them in the game then they find out you’re a deaf girl?
It’s usually a negative reaction, but some of them have a positive reaction and I love them for that. With some people, when they find out I’m deaf, they’ll say I shouldn’t be playing, they think I’m making it up and say a bunch of negative things. My response to these people is I’m deaf, I’m proud of my identity and I’m happy.
And, and you killed them too so…
What’s your ultimate dream in the world of gaming?
My dream is to join a professional gaming team or organization. It’s also my mission that, when I've completed my journey, I’ll have shown people that deaf people not only can play, but can be elite gamers. I want to show them that deaf people can play these games.
Thank you, Soleil for your time! You can follow her on Twitch at ewokttv or on Twitter at EwokIts. She has about 98,000 followers on Twitch and regularly plays with Atlanta Falcons backup QB Kurt Benkert.
[Video clip of Ewok playing with Kurt, tweet of Kurt mentioning playing with Ewok]
Soleil/Ewok is currently practicing for the World Cup tournament this summer. She has a bright future in the emerging field of eSports video game competitions.