[games_access] GDC 2008: VERY Bad News

Reid Kimball reid at rbkdesign.com
Sat Dec 1 02:26:45 EST 2007


Please, can we stop with the negative talk about GDC and the game
industry? I work in the game industry for LucasArts. Just last week I
talked to a highly respected programmer and he's 100% behind us and
wants to talk about what we can do to improve accessibility in our
games after our current milestone is finished. There are dozens of
people at LucasArts that support game accessibility. Nintendo totally
gets it, EA Games totally gets it with their Family Play modes in
their sports games. Peter Molyneux gets it, Will Wright... the list
goes on and on.

It's offensive to me when people of this SIG accuse developers of not
caring because WE DO CARE. The last thing you want to do is insult the
people you have to work with. It's the quickest way to turn them away
from our cause.

So, instead of complaining, lets do something about it! First,
everyone here needs to understand what it's like for developers and
why it's so hard for them to adopt accessibility features.

1. Limited financial resources - Games are very expensive to make and
any new features adds to the cost. Before you can add accessibility
features you must have a game and that's where most of the money is
spent first.

2. Limited time - Game development is incredibly complex and hard to
tame. No matter how much extra time gets budgeted into the production
schedule, it always runs out well before all tasks are complete. When
this happens, features get cut in order to save the core of the game
and again, without a game, there can't be any accessibility features.
Because this usually happens so late, there isn't enough time to work
on accessibility features before the game has to ship.

3. Limited information - Even if a developer was pro-active and
scheduled the development of accessibility features into the games'
development schedule, there's still a major lack of knowledge and
tools that enable them to do their job. The SIG has been thinking
about accessibility features for years and we have all the solutions,
but developers don't yet. We need to make ourselves known and readily
available to help them.

What can we do to solve these issues? We need to develop our
relationships with developers and offer our assistance. Our attempts
to work with GarageGames is a good start. When a new game is announced
we should contact them and offer our expertise.

We have GOT to get a website up so that we can communicate our
abilities and expertise to our target audiences (game developers).

But there are technical issues and many of us are volunteers and so
things move very slowly.

Several of us are writing guidelines for implementing certain features
but again, this is a slow process. Others are doing research. Going to
conferences is awesome. Writing articles to Gamasutra is great as
well.

Eitan is right, we have to "sell" our expertise. It's not that
developers don't care, they don't know that they SHOULD care.

-Reid


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