[games_access] GDC 2008: VERY Bad News

AudioGames.net richard at audiogames.net
Sat Dec 1 13:07:09 EST 2007


I agree with John. I think too much focus of the SIG (at least the past year
and a half or so) has been on "spreading the word" and not so much on
defining "game accessibility fundamentals". I guess most of you are also
aware of this and I agree that spreading the word is important too. But I
think it is about time we finish A (or The) Definitive v1.0 Set of Game
Accessibility Design Guidelines/Principles/Heuristics/Patterns! Once and for
all. Several people here are very anxious about getting logos (yes, I know -
logos for very specific functionalities[1]) as soon as possible and stuff
like that but WITHOUT a good definition of accessibility it doesn't mean
anything. BTW John, I'm not saying you are stupid but... (grin)... you claim
to develop game that "are accessible" yet you yourself do not know a
"specific set of functional criteria that define what means accessible"...
;) (just a joke ;) > but it is actually an example of the problem > I know
some of us have been saying "this game is accessible" or "this feature is
accessible" in the past but is it really...? For example, many of the games
and features that Barrie often names as "being accessible" absolutely do not
improve the accessibility for my personal target group (visually impaired
gamers). But when you visit the links that Barrie posted in answer of John's
email you'll see that they DO NOT provide coherent information of design
guidelines/heuristics for game accessibility, nor a final
definition/description of what game accessibility should consist of. There
is a lot of information out there, including old and also invalid
information [2] in my opinion but it does not cover what needs to be done to
make games accessible. For example, Eelke's (pretty good!) design patterns
are a formal way of describing specific design problems and their solutions,
but not everything concerning game accessibility might be able to be
captured in the format of patterns [3]. My point: there is alot of
information out there that is not coherent and not all information is there.
And therefore agree with John that if it's not the SIG's job to fix this
issue, whose job is it?

John's email reminded me that that was what initially draw me to this SIG in
the first place (being busy with game accessibility myself and disagreeing
with the initial SIG Top 10 guidelines and hopeing to contribute to a better
definition and design guidelines) and now painfully lets me conclude that
here I am, still working on my initial draft [4] more or less by myself (see
my GDC08 proposal and 3 years of posts to the list concerning guidelines).
John's email also made me realise how little the SIG has published. I know
several of us have written articles, but as far as I know - if you don't
count the SIG activity at conferences, the last actual SIG publication was

Sigh... ok.. point of this email: I believe we are all doing the best we
can, with limited resources and busy lives. And we all want to do as much as
possible. Several of us have already aimed their actual careers at that. And
we already scheduled several committees for specific activities such as
research and industry and stuff like that. So cheers and drinks for us :)
And the active <10 of us can't do more than we can. But, logically, one of
the best next steps we can now do is to make a worldwide publication with a
definitive set of descriptions of game accessibility functionality, with
design guidelines and where possible, design patterns. And since The Book
will not coming for another couple of years or so I think a simple .pdf
paper with the IGDA logo will do.
Too much of the SIG's knowledge is floating in the air (or in the heads of
<10 individuals around the world). Why try to only ventilate that knowledge
at conferences? If we put that knowledge in a fixed form it will help with
BOTH awareness and more accessible games. I also the SIG benefits from
that - it will help ourselves get our personal thoughts out and get in line
with each other - something I think we now are not. Therefore I think that
such a publication is now much more needed than anything else.



[1] like " contains captions" , "one switch accessible", etc. etc. which in
the end could mean about 39? logo's on your product - which is not very
[2] http://gameaccess.medialt.no/guide.php
[3] I prefer a hierarchical list of keypoints > guidelines > patterns - a
bit like seen in my doc [4].
[4] http://www2.hku.nl/~mosh/ga/gatheoryshort012_2OLD.doc

----- Original Message -----
From: "John Bannick" <jbannick at 7128.com>
To: "IGDA Games Accessibility SIG Mailing List" <games_access at igda.org>
Sent: Saturday, December 01, 2007 5:05 PM
Subject: Re: [games_access] GDC 2008: VERY Bad News

> Reid is right.


> There are developers right now who want their work to be accessible.


> This SIG could right now facilitate that by:


> 1. Providing, distributing, and publicizing a concise, specific set of

> functional criteria that define what means accessible.

> 2. Compiling, publishing, and publicizing an annual list of which

> companies and games meet those criteria.

> 3. Maintaining a forum (The currently rather drifting Game Accessibility

> Project comes to mind) where developers can go for immediate help.


> I'm a developer of games that are accessible.

> Have shipped 22 different revenue-generating products in a wide variety of

> vertical markets in the last 30 years.

> Am neither stupid nor lazy.

> And don't see any of the 3 above items.


> None of the 3 items should take long to build as a first cut.


> And if not from this SIG, then from where?


> John Bannick


> 7-128 Software



> At 02:26 AM 12/1/2007, you wrote:

>>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



>>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.




>>games_access mailing list

>>games_access at igda.org





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