[games_access] Re: game access for learning disabled

Reid Kimball rkimball at gmail.com
Thu May 11 16:39:51 EDT 2006


That is some excellent info. Thanks for clearning up my misconception
of Earcons.

-Reid

On 5/11/06, AudioGames.net <richard at audiogames.net> wrote:
> 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
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > >
> > _______________________________________________
> > games_access mailing list
> > games_access at igda.org
> > http://seven.pairlist.net/mailman/listinfo/games_access
> > _______________________________________________
> > games_access mailing list
> > games_access at igda.org
> > http://seven.pairlist.net/mailman/listinfo/games_access
> >
>
> _______________________________________________
> games_access mailing list
> games_access at igda.org
> http://seven.pairlist.net/mailman/listinfo/games_access
>


More information about the games_access mailing list