[games_access] RE: Another list... (and follow up info on Top 3 for indies thread)

K k at kellyrued.net
Wed Apr 5 08:30:51 EDT 2006

>I'd bundle everyone together and *only* developers deliberately working on 
>game accessibility.

I'm gonna disagree slightly on that suggestion Richard :) Indie developers
have SO much less to work with, especially those that are actually
independent and not 3rd party developers working with a publisher. It's very
easy to say "ok, when we're bigger, we'll do this stuff" knowing that our
games have the same accessibility problems as a bigger production's would. I
think it would be nice to salute the smaller companies for taking what's no
doubt a bigger chunk of their resources overall to do the right thing by
their players. It opens up new markets but since you don't really know how
much impact various changes will have it's hard to justify in a budget what
benefit, if any, accessibility feature X would have on the project's bottom

Plus it would be neat to show that so-and-so at the IGF who only had a 20k
budget still found a way to make closed captioning or something a priority.
:) Most games are made with C++, Java, Flash, Shockwave, etc. so I'm hoping
to see people release opensource code libraries/plugins with accessibility
features in them for mix-n-match use so it's a matter of
integration/customizing rather than engineering from scratch and researching
the design, then the technical design, then the implementation and testing
for general cases that could be done once and then shared and customized for
special cases. Throw in some tools- utility code that allows designers and
artists to *see* what their art/game looks like to someone with various
visual problems or audio problems (cripples it in some way), and you'd have
a turn-key suite of tools that any developer could use to put a big dent in
their accessibility problem-identifying and solving efforts.

But I am biased, as an indie working on funded and unfunded projects under
different brands right now. It's the unfunded one we're trying to squeeze in
accessibility for because the others fall under that suggested definition of
people who shouldn't make games LOL (heh, it's really not a game where audio
adds a ton to the play honestly- the audio is just a backdrop to create
tension/mood while they play (trivia games) and the sfx all have correlating
onscreen text-based feedback of visual effects to convey the same meaning-
plus they are already self-paced and trivial pursuit style (we have a beta
test copy, www.isergames.com The Sex Ed Game, if anyone is interested in
testing for accessibility issues, let me know off-list and I'll send you the
dl info)). It's too late to add *major* features to that release but I think
it does pretty well- might be issues with the art contrast/etc. but like I
mentioned before while I can *hear* where audio is important I can't *see*
where our graphics might be hard to see to people with different vision
issues (I don't know enough yet about the different visual impairments to
say either way).

In my spare time now (ha) I'm reading your SIG white paper 'Game not Over'
and going through your top 10 list and other resources to analyze our bigger
game, Rapture Online (an MMOEG, basically an adults-only MMORPG), for
accessibility needs. Thanks so much for your feedback so far- I'm sure that
if I have questions and when I reach a final plan/analysis I'm going to
share a link to it here. 

I doubt my process will be super or comprehensive as this is the first time
I've done this but I am going to document what I did anyways on our site in
case other game designers want to try the same thing. It's exciting though
to think that I could anticipate these problems and make the game a good
experience for everyone right "out of the box." I really hope to see more
guides and workshops about how to analyze your game design for accessibility
issues... there was an all day tutorial at GDC that ran up against my
serious games schedule for The Sex Ed Game, but perhaps that's what you all
covered. :) I'm especially ignorant on alt-input/controllers and how they
work to operate the game or how game controls are re-mapped to these
devices. Our primary mouse controls is just like The Sims 2 pie menu system
so figuring out how players can use those with any kind of input device is
really important (we have editable keyboard shortcuts for *everything* so
I'm thinking that's where we'll be able to make it accessible). 

Again, thanks for all the input! Keep up the good work- this is an
informative list to lurk on (resumes lurker mode until I learn a bit more)



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