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

Reid Kimball rkimball at gmail.com
Sun Apr 2 17:00:55 EDT 2006


Nice idea and might work with some refinement but the definition of
what accessibility features fall into which category (brain, physical)
could overlap and get confusing. I think that slowing the game down
could fall into both the mental and physical category. It could fall
into the physical category if someone can't move as fast as another
person, but can think just as fast.

The mentally and physically disabled persons might have the same exact
problems when interfacing with the game. One is too slow to think of
how to react and the other is too slow to execute the reaction. I
think we might make the accessibility features easier to understand if
we approach them from the angle of what game interface problems they
solve, rather than what disabilities they solve. Players interface
with a game via visual, audio, control mechanism, time, challenge
(difficulty). Again, this is listing what aspects of the game can be
customized, not what disabilities they cater to.

As we know by now, closed captioning isn't just for deaf people, so I
wouldn't feel comfortable saying the game solves the audio problem for
those with hearing difficulties. I like the idea that any
accessibility feature can be used by anyone and may even help make the
game experience better. I had someone comment at GDC that seeing the
Visual Sound Radar (blips of sound sources on a radar) made playing
Doom3 even more frightening. It felt like the movie Aliens. He knew
danger was out there but didn't know where exactly. This person had no
disability that I know, but the Visual Sound Radar, created to help
make the game more accessible provided another benefit I never
intended. I think it's important we advertise that. Otherwise, people
will say, "I'm not disabled, I don't need this other crap ruining my
game experience."

-Reid

On 4/2/06, Barrie Ellis <barrie.ellis at oneswitch.org.uk> wrote:
> 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...
>
>
>
> ===========================================================
>
> ============================
> 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.
>
>
> ===========================================================
> 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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