Losing all movement below the neck hasn’t stopped one incredible gamer from racking up huge kill counts on Warzone – all while playing with his mouth.
Ryan Gunter, of South Carolina, became a quadriplegic at the age of 16 after jumping into a pool and hitting his head.
Despite saying he felt “lost” after the accident, Ryan eventually found gaming and developed seriously impressive skills by using a specialised QuadStick controller.
The 27-year-old told Barcroft Studios: “Do I think I'm better than most people at Warzone? I think so. There's no doubt.
“I’ve even had friends come up to me saying ‘man, this guy is just unreal, he’s better than me.’ So, I think I’ve got a little bit of talent over some people who use regular controllers and their hands.
“I’ve actually had a couple of people that I've killed in-game look my name up and come on my stream and just be completely blown away.
“Sometimes knowing players have no idea they just got killed by somebody using their mouth. It's just unreal. Kind of funny, actually.”
Although he has developed minimal movement in his arms since his accident, Ryan still uses a QuadStick – a mouth operated joystick with sip and puff sensors – for his gaming sessions.
And he’s proven himself a worthy Warzone player, regularly posting high-kill games and taking on able-bodied players around the world.
He’s even developed a particular fondness for sniper rifles, and can be found laying waste to opponents with his quick-scope technique on his YouTube ‘HO11YWOOD_QG’.
But it’s taken a lot for Ryan to get to where he is now, having become paralysed just eight days before his 17th birthday.
He recalled the day of his accident: “I just got done running 11 miles and was kind of hot so we went swimming at the pool.
“Literally the first time I went and jumped in, I did a gainer [backflip] and hit the slope of the pool and was instantly paralysed.”
Ryan was stuck underwater for an incredible two-and-half minutes, during which time he says he was floating there “with an empty mind”.
It’s this calmness that Ryan thinks helped keep him alive, despite the fact he knew instantly that he was paralysed.
Two friends eventually pulled Ryan out before he was taken to hospital and doctors confirmed his paralysis.
Ryan’s neck had shifted to the left on impact, dislocating at the C4 vertebrae before snapping back in and pinching his spinal cord, causing the paralysis.
He said: “When you're coming off an accident like that your whole life changes. Your independence is really cut short, so you have to really depend on a lot of people.”
Initially Ryan found the change hard to adapt to, and struggled to remain positive in the face of such overwhelming odds.
Prior to his accident he had been an all-state soccer player with a promising career ahead of him.
He said: “Two years after I got hurt, literally before I started gaming, I was just lost, I couldn't find anything I could do well.
“The minute I was introduced to gaming, I'm telling you, it created a whole new world for me.”
It was Ryan’s cousin who brought gaming into Ryan’s life. While watching his cousin game one day, Ryan decided to try laying a Playstation 4 controller on the bed and using the minimal movement he had in his right arm to move the buttons.
But it wasn’t until he saw prolific QuadStick user RockyNoHands playing games online that he knew he needed a QuadStick.
He said: "I literally saw Rocky on the internet playing and using a QuadStick and I was like ‘man, I got to get that.’ So that's how it all began.”
Since then, Ryan’s skills have developed dramatically. Recently he took on two of his friends in a two-vs-one match and won with 20 kills to their 17.
And while winning is obviously important to Ryan, what’s more important is how gaming has helped him overcome an incredibly challenging life experience.
“Gaming has helped my life,” he said. “Basically, after my accident it helped me understand that I’m not here alone. I honestly don’t know where I would be without gaming.”
- These are the best gaming keyboards on the market