[games_access] Legislating for Game Accessibility

John Bannick jbannick at 7128.com
Fri Dec 21 05:24:04 EST 2007


Michelle,

All excellent points.
Fortunately, the 7-128 Software Accessibility Ratings apply only to our own
stuff.
(Though we do have some heated discussions between Development [mostly me]
and Marketing [them])

Happy Holidays and Good Trip,

John


At 07:35 PM 12/20/2007, you wrote:

>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!). :)

>

>Michelle

>

>>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.

>>

>>Robert

>>

>>-----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

>>

>>Tess,

>>

>>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

>>literature.

>>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

>>CTO

>>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>

>>wrote:

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

>>was

>>> > 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

>>greater

>>> > 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

>>>screen.

>>>

>>>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!

>>>

>>>Tess

>>>_______________________________________________

>>>games_access mailing list

>>>games_access at igda.org

>>>http://seven.pairlist.net/mailman/listinfo/games_access

>>>

>>>

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>>

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