[games_access] Legislating for Game Accessibility

d. michelle hinn hinn at uiuc.edu
Thu Dec 20 19:35:19 EST 2007

Ratings have been something we've talked about for a long while now
and I'm for them if we can come up with a way that can prevent them
from being misleading or misused. For example, the ESRB has paid
employees that help make sure that a game meets the ratings and are
forced to meet again about games when "hidden" content that breaks
the rating comes about (Grand Theft Auto...). We don't have that at
this point. However I'm working with the ESA and the ECA in trying to
see how we could set up something like this for accessibility
(pros/cons/etc). For instance, we wouldn't like a developer to
advertise closed captioning when all they provide is some subtitles
with no thought to ambient sounds, cut scenes, etc. We'd need to work
on a system where it's clear cut when we can be comfortable saying
"yes, the use of this symbol means that the IGDA Game Accessibility
SIG (or an ESA sponsored Accessibility Ratings Board if we can get
that kind of commitment/buy in from them) agrees that this game meets
a certain standard of closed captioning and we agree that they can
use the symbol." After all, the last thing we would want is for a
game company to advertise a feature that really isn't in the game to
the level that it makes the game accessible to a certain audience --
it would undermine the ratings system and open things up to legal
battles that might turn the industry against us (ie, the industry
might say "hey...we were just trying to help but we got it wrong and
no one was there to correct us -- had we not bothered at all, we
wouldn't be in this lawsuit for false advertisement!). So a lot of
thinking needs to go into this -- I believe it's something we should
move toward but we'll need the assistance of folks from the ESA and
such to help us get this right.

Yeah...I know...good intentions too often spring to ugly results. But
the more we can think through those ahead of time, the better! In the
meantime, we can keep at this and keep pointing out when a company
does something that is exemplary (even if they don't realize they did
it!). :)


>You are right John those abbreviations are really simple and straight to the

>point. It's a start. Wonder if there are any ADA standard abbreviations

>and they use that could be more recognizable across the universal plane of

>acceptance? If symbols are already used.




>-----Original Message-----

>From: games_access-bounces at igda.org [mailto:games_access-bounces at igda.org]

>On Behalf Of John Bannick

>Sent: Thursday, December 20, 2007 4:57 AM

>To: IGDA Games Accessibility SIG Mailing List

>Subject: Re: [games_access] Legislating for Game Accessibility




>Interesting you should suggest Accessibility Ratings.


>Our small company makes computer games for the casual games market.

>All of these games have a 7-128 Software Accessibility Rating and Age

>Appropriate Rating.

>We post the ratings at the electronic point of purchase and in all our


>The Accessibility Ratings aren't perfect by any means, but they're a start.

>(In fact, I'm working on a set of specific accessibilty criteria to back

>the ratings.)


>Check out: http://www.7128.com/supportratings.html


>John Bannick


>7-128 Software


>At 07:33 PM 12/19/2007, you wrote:

>>On Dec 19, 2007 11:06 AM, Barrie Ellis <barrie.ellis at oneswitch.org.uk>


>> > So if an expectancy of "reasonable adjustments" in commercial software


>> > introduced (which I truly belive will eventually happen) how badly

>> would the

>> > artistic side of things be affected? What is reasonable is the tricky

>> > point... But I didn't see too many shop keepers crying about giving


>> > access to shoppers with different abilities.


>>You're comparing apples and oranges. You can't just bolt a ramp onto

>>a game, and call it accessible.


>>There are some types of entertainment experiences that are simply

>>incompatible with certain disabilities. This is not due to

> >insensitivity on the part of the artists, but the very nature of the

>>experience. Someone who is vision impaired, but not blind, might

>>really enjoy the extra-large picture provided by IMAX movies, while

>>someone who is completely blind will get no benefit from the giant



>>A lot of audio-only games for blind players are made by small,

>>independent developers. Many of them are labors of love. Would you

>>force these folks to invest extra time and money to develop a version

>>of their game that could be played by deaf players? Would you rob

>>them of the time and money that they might have put towards making

>>more games for the blind? Legislation can hurt the very people we are

>>trying to help.


>>I continue to believe that the push for accessibility labeling

>>standards is the right approach. This does not mandate accessibility,

>>but it does create market pressure, and get companies thinking about

>>how they can tick off more checkboxes. I guarantee you, you'd see

>>much more widespread coverage for at least the low-hanging fruit (e.g.

>>captioning, visual cues for auditory alerts, configurable controls,

>>etc.) than you do right now. As it is, it's hard to get companies to

>>even remember that some people are left-handed!




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>>games_access at igda.org





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