[games_access] Re: game access for learning disabled

AudioGames.net richard at audiogames.net
Thu May 11 06:37:54 EDT 2006


Hi Jonathan,

The first draft is planned in November, but it will probably take as long as 
March 2007 for a final draft. Will let you know on how you can obtain it, 
since it will include an interactive DVD as well.

Greets,

Richard

http://www.audiogames.net


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Jonathan Chetwynd" <j.chetwynd at btinternet.com>
To: "AudioGames.net" <richard at audiogames.net>
Sent: Wednesday, May 10, 2006 5:30 PM
Subject: RE: game access for learning disabled


> Richard,
>
> is it possible to get a PDF copy of your thesis in the near future?
>
> regards
>
> Jonathan Chetwynd
>
>
>
> On 10 May 2006, at 10:19, AudioGames.net wrote:
>
> Hi,
>
> I got about 7 years of experience with earcons due to my MA in audio 
> design and my PhD research on game audio design (in short  "functionality 
> of game audio") .
>
> I would like to point out that it is easy to confuse "earcons" with 
> "auditory icons". I personally do not like using both these terms, 
> because they are confusing to many people. To get a better  understanding 
> of their difference, it is best to think of these  sounds as "auditory 
> references" - both auditory icons and earcons try  to refer to something 
> (for instance, an action or event in the game).  However, their operations 
> are totally different.
>
> Earcons is basically "an auditory sign language" (note the word sign,  as 
> I will refer to this word later on). Earcons use a system of  tones, with 
> which motives can be created, to communicate almost  "musically". A motive 
> can consist of one to five tones. By changing  all variables except one a 
> new earcon is created. These related  earcons can form families. Blattner 
> and Brewster did a lot of  research on this subject and wrote down several 
> guidelines for the  creation and use of earcons. Earcons can put used in a 
> string to form  a sentence like: [earcon1=create] + [earcon6=new file] = 
> [earcon1,  earcon6] which means "create new file". Blattner came up with a 
> system which would allow more complex communication using a sentence  of 
> multiple earcons (words), in which each word would be either based  on 
> rhythm, melody or timbre (or instrument). An example of 2 simple  earcons 
> is the sound in Windows XP when you connect and disconnect  something 
> through USB. The major downpoint of earcons is that you  need to learn the 
> (often not intuitive) earcon language in order to  understand what is 
> meant.
> Auditory Icons are 'real world' or abstract sounds that often have an 
> intuitive tie with what they represent (Gaver 1986, 1993b). As with 
> visual icons, the keyword to auditory icons is association. Examples  of 
> auditory icons are the sound of clearing the trashcan in Windows  (you 
> hear a 'real world' sound referring to something being trashed)  and 
> receiving an new email in Outlook Express (abstract sound  referring to 
> new mail!).
>
> However, if you are using these term, the discussion can easily arise 
> whether or not a certain sound is an abstract auditory icon (email  sound) 
> or an earcon (USB connect sound). Therefore I would like to  share another 
> vocabulary with you that I think is (much) better. It's  basically nothing 
> new. Many years ago an antropologist named Turner  introduced a set of 
> terms to describe types/forms of references he  found in his field of 
> study (antropology). It turns out that these  terms can be applied to 
> basically every field that deals with  references. The vocabulary is 
> Signals, Signs, Symbols and Cultural  Symbol:
>
> A signal is something that users associate with whatever it refers to 
> without learning or conventional agreement. It is basically the most 
> direct reference. So the sound of an explosing in a game refers to an 
> explosion. The sound of an approaching car refers to an approaching  car. 
> Signals only refer to one thing.
>
> A sign is something (thing, event, colour, sound, etc.) that people  have 
> come to learn to associate with whatever it refers to through  learning, 
> conditioning and/or conventional agreement. There are two  types of signs: 
> iconic signs and non-iconic signs. An iconic sign is  modelled to whatever 
> it refers to - its appearance has a relationship  with whatever it refers 
> to. An non-iconic sign does not have a  relationship between the 
> appearance of the sign and whatever it  refers to. The example of the 
> sound you hear when you empty your  trash in Windows is an iconic sign. 
> The sound of an new email in  Outlook is a non-iconic sign. Most traffic 
> signs are a combination of  the two. For instance, The "No Cyclists 
> regulatory sign" (http:// 
> www.transport.gov.za/library/legislation/roadtraffic/signs/R219.jpg) 
> consists of a iconic sign referring to a bicycle and a non-iconic  sign 
> (red circle with line) referring to "prohibited". Combined this  is a sign 
> referring to "cycling prohibited". It is often easier to  define the 
> meaning of an icon sign than that of a non-iconic sign  because of the 
> appearance the icon sign has.
> As you can see, there are several resemblences between auditory icons/ 
> earcons and signs. Basically, an auditory icon is an iconic sign, and  an 
> earcon is a non-iconic sign (language), all in the audio domain.  Spoken 
> and written language (words) are also non-iconic signs, as is  sign 
> language for the deaf. Onomatopoeia, words that imitate the  sounds 
> associated with the objects or actions they refer to, could be  considered 
> to be iconic signs. Musical leitmotivs or jingles could be  considered to 
> be musical signs. Signs only refer to one thing.
>
> A symbol is basically a sign that refers to more than one thing - a 
> symbol is multivocal. The meanings of a symbol is contextually and 
> culturally dependend and requires (personal) interpretation by the  user. 
> A user does not only understand the meaning of a symbol through  learning, 
> but also by creativity and action on his part. For  instance, the sound of 
> car horns in a given context such as an  animation could be a symbol for 
> the implications (good or bad) of  city-life. Some words (or sentences) 
> are symbols as well. A national  anthem could be considered to be a 
> musical symbol.
> A cultural symbol (or "ritual symbol") does not only communicate  meanings 
> but also theme(s). A theme is more than just a meaning - it  often an 
> expression of the nature, structure or directions of the  given culture.
>
> All of these (signal, sign, symbols, themes) should be considered in 
> their context, without it you cannot define their meaning. There have 
> been other researchers that have used this terminology for their own 
> modifications (and who came up with many types if signs, for  instance). 
> However, in my opinion *as a designer*, these cloud the  functionality of 
> such a vocabulary and aside from that, I found some  to be incorrect in my 
> opinion.
>
> So back to disabilities and games:
>
> The most appropiate sound design for people with an auditory  processing 
> problem would, in theory, be either a signal or an iconic  sign - since 
> these are the most easily understood and leave the least  room for 
> interpretation (basically what Reid did with the Closed  Captions in his 
> Doom 3 Mod is use very well known non-iconic signs  (written language) to 
> refer to game audio). However, I would like to  adress another issue that 
> is important for deciding which accessible  design solution you are going 
> to use:
>
> I am of the opinion that games consist of a diegetic part and a non- 
> diegetic part. The diegetic part being the "world in/of the  game" (for 
> instance the dungeonworld in Dungeon Keeper 2, the city in  SimCity, the 
> racing track/city with cars etc. in Need for Speed) and  the non-diegetic 
> part being the part that does not exist in this  world, mostly seen 
> visually as the Head Up Display (HUD). This can be  passive (score, health 
> bars) or interactive (button interface such as  in the Sims, where the HUD 
> becomes a controller for the diegetic part  of the game).
> Audio is coming from both these part of the game. Depending of the  game 
> of course, the diegetic part of the game usually has auditory  signals 
> (explosions, footsteps, city sounds, etc.) while the non- diegetic part 
> usually has more signs (sounds for when the score is  raised, alarm for 
> when the health is too low, clicks for when an  interactive part of the 
> HUD is activated) and symbols (music not  coming from the world of the 
> game, but from 'the game' itsself).
>
> Now, in the case of the sounds in Mario Bros, we could start a big 
> (pointless) discussion whether or not these are to be considered  sounds 
> coming from the world where Mario is in (making them more a  signal - in 
> the world of mario hitting a stone makes that sound) or  sounds not coming 
> from the world of Mario, but from the game  (referring to the score being 
> raised). And the music, would Mario  hear this as well or is this meant 
> for the gamer only? We'll never  know, because there's too much room for 
> interpretation.
> However, in more current games, the distinction is becoming more  clear 
> and important too. Sound belonging to the diegetic part of the  game 
> usually reacts dynamically to a users perspective on the world  (panning, 
> volume changes, acoustics (reverb, etc.) and are also real- world sound 
> sources. Sound belonging to the non-diegetic part of the  game usually 
> doesn't have these features and usually consists of  abstract, ICT-like 
> sound design (of course, due to the huge variety  of games, exeptions 
> exist). Music is usually always outside of the  game world, although some 
> games play with this (the filter in the  vehicle settings in GTA:San 
> Andreas is a good example).
>
> What I am getting at is this:
>
> If you have a game in which music is referring to the game becoming  more 
> dangerous and someone with an auditory processing problem would  not 
> understand it, than you could choose for sound to fix the problem  (speech 
> sign: "danger is coming", musical sign: a leitmotiv/jingle -  think of the 
> Jaws theme, but then only a few bars, sound sign: alarm  sound). However, 
> you could choose to do this visually as well (visual  radar, alarm icon, 
> etc.). But you have to take care that your  solution is logical. You could 
> use an auditory sign language (earcon)  to communicate that the aliens are 
> invading the west part of the  castle, but if you have a game which does 
> not really feature a HUD  (such as the Syberia adventures) and every sound 
> is a signal coming  from the diegetic part of the game, a player could 
> assume that when  an earcon is played, that this is supposed to be a sound 
> within the  game world (because you, as a designer, suddenly introduce a 
> new, non- diegetic dimension to the game).
>
> This is even more difficult when you want to communicate something in  the 
> game world that doesn't make a sound *with* sound. For instance,  many 
> designers of blind-accessible have faced the problem with making  walls 
> accessible for blind gamers (using radars to avoid walls,  giving walls a 
> sound, letting the player bump into a wall and using  the collision sound 
> to communicate where the wall is in relation to  the avatar, etc.). My 
> personal solution is "no walls if they their  function could be replaced 
> by something else" ;) however, this  decision has a lot of impact on your 
> diegetic game design.
> In audio games/blind-accessible games designers often make the BEEP- 
> mistake (remember my post to Robert recently?). Many audio games  resemble 
> a collection of non-iconic signs (beeps, clicks, eeps, etc.)  referring to 
> aliens, vehicles, menu options, enemies, directions,  etc. Not only is it 
> not fun to listen to just 
> beepbeepbeeperdebeepshootshootbeepbieppepebeeppow, it is very hard to 
> learn the different meanings of the sound. In one of my own designs, 
> Drive, I tried to be as simple as possible with the sound and still  many 
> people have trouble understanding the boosters (a non-iconic  sign) 
> whereas everybody understands the engine (a signal) when they  first play. 
> I think Michelle can testify to that ;)
>
> So when dealing with sound referrals to make a game accessible, think 
> about what part of the sound you are trying to make accessible, what  the 
> function of that sound is in the game, where the sound originates  from 
> (the game world or outside of the game world), and base your  accessible 
> solution on that.
>
> So if the music tries to communicate that a giant stone ball is about  the 
> come rumbling down the stairs in TombRaider but this is still out  of 
> vision for a couple of seconds, you could choose to add something  to the 
> game world - either visually, like an earthquake, or auditory,  like the 
> rumbling of the ball (both signals). Or  you could choose to  have the 
> non-diegetic part of the game communicate this: a visual or  auditory sign 
> communicating "danger!". What I think is important to  acknowledge is that 
> games are not simply "human-computer interfaces"  - an ATM machine with an 
> auditory interface requires a very different  approach than a computer 
> game with audio, the biggest difference  between the two being 
> "experience". Much fun and experience comes  from what happens in the game 
> world and not so much in the HUD. That  a stone ball is about to come 
> rumbling down the stairs and squash  your avatar, is exciting for a 
> player, and it is that excitement that  I would like to make accessible 
> too. So not just give a deaf gamer or  a gamer with a CAPD an equal chance 
> to play the game, but also give  them an equal chance to experience the 
> game.
>
> Greets,
>
> Richard (the info above mostly comes from my PhD thesis which will 
> hopefully be ready in November)
>
> http://www.audiogames.net
>
>
>
>
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Reid Kimball" <rkimball at gmail.com>
> To: <lynnvm at alltel.net>; "IGDA Games Accessibility SIG Mailing List" 
> <games_access at igda.org>
> Sent: Wednesday, May 10, 2006 6:12 AM
> Subject: Re: [games_access] RE: game access for learning disabled
>
> http://reid.rbkdesign.com/?p=41 - I wrote a little bit about the
> concept of Earcons in games.
>
> -Reid
>
> On 5/9/06, Reid Kimball <rkimball at gmail.com> wrote:
> > Interesting info, thanks for sharing. I think the concept of Earcons
> > is actually used extensively in games. A classic example is Mario,
> > jumping has a distinct "boing" sound and collecting coins has another
> > specific sound. The sounds when distinct and tied to only one action
> > clue the user that they have accomplished something. In more complex
> > 3D games, a player may not see they are collecting objects, but
> > because of the "earcon" they know they must have done the action that
> > the earcon represents.
> >
> > -Reid
> >
> > On 5/9/06, Lynn Marentette <lynnvm at alltel.net> wrote:
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > Hi-
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > I haven't had much time to interact here lately, between work
> and taking
> > > classes.
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >  I've done some thinking about game access for people with learning
> > > disabilities and attention deficits. I am a school psychologist,
> so I have
> > > worked with many students who have milder disabilities over the
> years. Most
> > > of the students I know really like to play computer or video
> games, but some
> > > get frustrated with certain genres.
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > A few months ago I wrote about the concept of "Universal Design
> for Gaming",
> > > based on the principles of Universal Design for Learning
> developed by David
> > > Rose and Anne Mayer at CAST (Center for Applied Special
> Technology -
> > > http://www.cast.org.In a nutshell, in an ideal world, all games
> (and
> > > instruction), would be designed from the very beginning with
> Universal
> > > Design principles in mind.
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > Many of the students I work with have auditory processing problems,
> > > short-term auditory memory deficits, or problems with working
> memory.  Even
> > > thought they might have an average or higher IQ, this can be a
> problem when
> > > they play games, as it is in life.
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > Icons would make many games more accessible for people with a
> wide range of
> > > disabilities.  For example, for those who have memory problems,
> icons could
> > > be embedded in the game (with the option of turning them off or
> on), to give
> > > the player hints throughout the game.
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > Earcons might have some use in making games more accessible for
> people who
> > > have auditory processing problems. I've noticed that in many games,
> > > background sounds, even background music, provide players with
> hints about
> > > what is about to happen next.  Gamers who have auditory
> processing problems
> > > may not pick up on this, even though they hear the sounds. An
> earcon could
> > > serve the same purpose.  The earcon option could be turned on or
> off.
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > Here is someone's webpage about earcon research:
> > >
> > > http://www.dcs.gla.ac.uk/~stephen/research.shtml#earcons
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > There are plenty of people who have visual-spatial difficulties
> - they don't
> > > play games where they are likely to get lost and frustrated.
> Hints- through
> > > earcons, icons, text, or a clear map system (in-game GIS?) might
> be helpful.
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > This is off the subject a bit: I noticed that there was a link
> to Priority
> > > Woods school, in the UK.  Is that the school that was linked to
> the old
> > > Peepo.com?  Some of the students I work with have severe
> disabilities, and I
> > > used to take them to Peepo.com sometimes.
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > Lynn Marentette
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > -----Original Message-----
> > >  From: games_access-bounces at igda.org [mailto:games_access-
> bounces at igda.org]
> > > On Behalf Of games_access-request at igda.org
> > >  Sent: Friday, May 05, 2006 12:00 PM
> > >  To: games_access at igda.org
> > >  Subject: games_access Digest, Vol 22, Issue 7
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > _______________________________________________
> > > games_access mailing list
> > > games_access at igda.org
> > > http://seven.pairlist.net/mailman/listinfo/games_access
> > >
> > >
> > >
> >
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