[games_access] New Member and thoughts about legislation

Eelke Folmer eelke.folmer at gmail.com
Tue Dec 4 22:48:06 EST 2007

Hi Mike,

More programmers in this SIG that can actually help games make
accessible are always welcome! If you are interested in helping me
with some small accessibility programming jobs shoot me an email
offline. I have a bunch of students working for me already but since
I'm thinking of new accessible game projects at a faster rate than my
students are able to finish I could use the help. ;-)

Cheers Eelke

On 04/12/2007, Michael Ellison <devellison at gmail.com> wrote:

> Greetings again,

> I think I managed to mail the bounce folder directly the first

> time, thanks for catching that Michelle!


> I'm gonna back out of the legislation/petition discussion for now.


> As far as why the game industry, and the software industry as a whole,

> don't currently make their products accessible - here's the reasons I

> see:

> 1.) It's expensive, and the relative financial return on investment is

> small. Same reason why there aren't many games ported to Macintosh or

> Linux.

> 2.) We don't know how, or aren't aware of the specific problems our

> products may present to each type of disability. I've worked on

> products where all the indicators were little circles of different

> colors. Changing them to be different shapes as well as different

> colors took about 5 minutes, but the original implementors hadn't ever

> thought about anyone having difficulty telling the difference between

> green, yellow, and red circles and no one had complained. Someone

> just had to point out the problem and provide an easy solution.


> Here's my thoughts on solutions to the above. I don't know if I'm

> adding anything new idea-wise, but as an engineer looking for ways to

> help I'm still currently looking for a problem to solve ;)


> 1.) First, solve any problems that can be solved by third-party

> software for multiple games. This is where you'll get the most bang

> for the buck, and it means you get benefit from it now on multiple

> products. It also provides examples for the software industry to

> follow on what actually works. I don't know what the problems that

> are left in this category are right now - I see a lot of specialist

> software to solve different accessibility problems, but I don't know

> what works and what doesn't or what's been left out.


> 2.) Second, make generic libraries that can be integrated by game

> developers that provide those functions as easily and transparently as

> possible - and preferably make them open and free for the developers

> to use using BSD-style licenses (not GPL ones). If possible, get

> these libraries integrated with the big game development libraries

> like Miles Sound System, Microsoft's DirectX and XBox SDKs, Sony's

> SDKs, etc. so that any new major game gets the features for free. The

> cheaper and easier it is for game developers to make their games

> accessible, the more likely they will.


> 3.) Third, keep doing what ya'll are doing for awareness. It got me

> here, others will come. I do think that specifically targetting Open

> Source groups will get you a lot of mileage in the long run, although

> there will be a lot of false starts in the process (fair warning: when

> people are doing things for free in their spare time, the stuff can

> get derailed easily by events in the individuals' lives. Try not to

> get too frustrated by this. Best defense against it is to get multiple

> people working together on projects so that leadership can be

> transferred if a problem arises).


> 4.) Finally, keep trying to change the design process of video games

> to be more inclusive to those with disabilities. As you already know,

> this part will be extremely hard in a lot of cases, and it will affect

> the game as a whole for everyone. In a lot of cases there will be

> tradeoffs between accessibility and normal gameplay that require a lot

> of thought and time. The fact that most development efforts are

> *already* behind schedule, over budget, and are throwing out features

> they wanted left and right won't help. It's definitely worth doing,

> I'm glad ya'll are doing it, but I think it's the hardest and slowest

> avenue.


> I'd like to have a shot at my #1 up there. If it looks like I'm doing

> something useful and enjoying it, I'll toss around the idea for #2

> (libraries) and see if I can find others interested in it as well.


> So, what software would be useful?


> I've taken a look at the QuadController, but aside from pictures and

> video I don't have any experience with it. It looks like the PC

> version installs as a native game device with one joystick, some

> toggles, and a few buttons. It also looks like they've got some form

> of Joystick->Mouse emulation available for it that could work both

> with games and with normal applications.


> What are the common hurdles you currently face interacting with modern

> games that existing hardware and software don't fix? Are there

> problems still around that could be generalized and solved by external

> software for multiple games? I can put just about any kind of

> interface up inside modern PC games and/or reroute just about any kind

> of input switches you can throw at me into any other kind of input or

> output. I may be able to slow down or change the rendering behavior

> of a lot of modern PC games, but it'll depend on how they're written.


> Let me know if there's something I can do that'd be useful.


> Cheers,

> Mike Ellison

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Eelke Folmer Assistant Professor
Department of CS&E/171
University of Nevada Reno, Nevada 89557
Game interaction design www.helpyouplay.com

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