[games_access] GASIG: PICK and MIX accessibility features list (for independent and main-stream developers) - April 2006

Barrie Ellis barrie.ellis at oneswitch.org.uk
Sun Apr 2 03:48:38 EDT 2006


Thinking about the top 3 and recent posts has me back thinking on about a 
future ratings system and marking system we all need to think about...


Accessibility features could be represented on game boxes via an appropriate 
standardised symbol (perhaps the universally recognised white wheelchair 
user on blue background - but maybe something better could be devised).

The quality of these features could be represented on game boxes via a 
bar-chart and symbols, representing:

A. Mental Barriers (e.g. symbol of a brain)
B. Physical Barriers (e.g. symbol of a flexed arm)
C. Sensory Barriers (a symbol to represent the five senses - maybe just an 
eye in print?)

Ratings from 1 to 10 could be given for each of the three areas, awarded via 
a central body incorporating as many disabled gamers as possible. This is 
presently undertaken for age ratings by the ESRB in the US 
(www.esrb.org/esrbratins.asp) and PEGI (www.pegi.info) in Europe. I'm not 
aware of similar schemes outside of these markets. None the less, perhaps we 
could contact them and other organisations for advice. To have one system 
would obviously be better than competing systems. In lieu of this, perhaps 
ACE, Moby Games, Audio Games, Deaf Gamers etc. could adopt a system that we 
eventually develop?

Obviously gamers would want more information about the accessibility 
features, thus a link to a respected reviews site would be beneficial. No 
game would get a zero rating.


So onto a top 3 for an indie developer... Why not pick 3 different 
accessibility solution that address an element of A. B. and C. The following 
list (in random order)  is just a start, which we could all add to. What do 
you think? I'm happy to start it rolling...



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A. Mental Barriers (e.g. symbol of a brain)
============================
1. Game difficulty level: Offer a wide range of difficulty levels (e.g. 
1-10), bearing in mind there is no such thing as 'too easy' for many 
disabled gamers. Meaning what might seem ridiculously easy to you, might be 
nicely playable for another gamer.
2. Separate Music and SFX volume controls (being able to switch off music 
can aid cause and effect understanding).
3. Speed Control. Being able to slow a game down incrementally can make all 
the difference for people with slower reactions.
4.

=================================
B. Physical Barriers (e.g. symbol of a flexed arm)
=================================
1. Add a 'Reconfigure controls' option. Needs to be very flexible.
2. Digital only controllers. Consider that some gamers can not use analogue 
controls to play games (e.g. switch gamers).
3. Offer a toggle on/off option for controls that need to be held down for a 
long time. E.g. GAS/Accelerator buttons can prove uncomfortable.
4. Speed Control. Being able to slow a game down incrementally can make all 
the difference for people with slower reactions.
5. Reduced controls option. Consider that many gamers can't cope with 
complicated controls.
6. One switch / button standard. (see 
http://www.oneswitch.org.uk/2/ARTICLES/physical-barriers.htm)
7.


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C. Sensory Barriers (a symbol to represent the five senses - maybe just an 
eye in print?)
===========================================================
1. Separate Music and SFX volume controls. For deaf and hard of hearing and 
learning disabled gamers it can be beneficial to be able to turn the music 
off. This can make the game experience easier to understand - especially if 
you are relying on speaker vibrations.
2. Closed Captioning. Subtitles for dialogue and sounds aids understanding 
for deaf gamers / silent gaming.
3.



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