[games_access] Games for All research

d. michelle hinn hinn at uiuc.edu
Tue Jul 31 21:00:44 EDT 2007

What I like about it is that GA can mean both "Games for All" and
"Game Accessibility." What we must be careful with is not
disassociating ourselves with game accessibility because that's why
we are here -- we all want social justice for gamers with
disabilities. But we can reframe the way we present accessibility to
the industry as a way that opens up the path for ALL gamers,
ESPECIALLY/EVEN gamers with disabilities.

I don't totally agree that "games for the disabled" has a bad
connotation in all cases and you probably only meant to refer to the
mainstream gaming industry -- as a SIG we are also concerned with,
well, games designed for the disabled such as games for the blind
that are not necessarily concerned with being accessible to those who
are not blind. Catch 22. :) So we have to remember that we DO also
support games that maybe only children with severe learning
disabilities might find fun. And we also support controllers that are
purposefully designed for those with mobility disabilities. So we
have this side of the issue to keep in mind as well. It's out of the
mainstream but it has a very valuable purpose.

I think (and Reid, please correct me if I am wrong) that Reid is
motivated by the question of "how can we get our accessibility
message out in a more palatable way to the industry that is driven by
money (not a criticism...just a reality)?" Yes, it would be great if
we could just say "gamers with disabilities" and have a packed house
at industry events like GDC. But it hasn't happened in five years.
And I know that members like Reid who have been with the SIG for much
of its entire run are getting frustrated. I'm frustrated too -- This
past GDC was extremely disappointing because we went out on the edge
in terms of our presentation styles (rather than the same old
underattended roundtable discussion). It worked "better" than the
past as far as number of people we reached but let's face it...it
wasn't even CLOSE to the turnout we had wanted and worked so hard for.

So we need to keep working on how we market "the good fight" (as
Barrie often says) to those who can't or won't hear the message "as
is." If we have to sugar coat things a bit to do it, that's what we
have to do. It's not a lie -- We already know that so many
accessibility features in all sorts of facets of technology have been
innovative solutions to all. But we need to get that across more
forcefully now.

Reid's the new committee exec for the Industry Committee (those newly
formed SIG committees we need to flesh out a bit better). So he's
coming to us from that perspective and the need to move that
committee forward. Hopefully in the next month we'll start hearing
from other committee execs (Eelke who co-runs the Research and
Development Committee has also put in his two cents here) about other


>Hi Reid,


>I totally agree with you! Like i've said before in the past I think

>games for disabled just has a bad conotation. Same with the term

>"accessibility" i think it just freaks out game developers since they

>are already so stressed out with trying to stay in business. Games for

>All solves the same basic problems yet also makes clear that your not

>developing for the exclusive "few" but for a huge market that has

>previously been ignored. The wii & nintendo DS clearly proves that

>there is a market beyond the hardcore gamer.


>Providing different interaction modes for different gamers (where one

>button would be suitable for elderly/ disabled), some in between modes

>for kids (see for example viva pinata who offers you to choose between

>a regular interaction mode and a simple one), and some more advanced

>mode for the experienced, you could even go for interaction modes that

>are even more advanced for the die hards, is in my opinion definately

>the future of games.


>As you pointed out one thing that differentiates disabled from

>"novice" gamers is that novice gamers can improve their skills to some

>extent (i think this is true for disabled too, since robert would

>probably kick my ass with the matrix game ;-) so the problem will be

>what kind of interaction is suitable for which player at which point?

>E.g. a novice player may start out with a basic navigation mode but

>will require the advanced at some point. Should the game suggest

>moving to advanced more at some stage and will this confuse the player

>or not? what if the players performance goes down with the advanced

>controls? Its an interesting question and it is something that we are

>investigating right now with our one button FPS.


>Our idea is to create a number of different interaction "modes"

>varying between a one button control to being able to fully control

>the game. For simplicity we created the following four modes:

>1. fire (one button)

>2. aim + fire (moving goes automatically)

>3. move + fire (aiming goes automatically)

>4. move + aim + fire


>The game starts out at a one button, if you play well for a while you

>go to mode 2 or 3. if that goes well you move to mode 4. (we just

>assume the player is not limited by any physical contraints and is

>able to control the game in that particular mode, if not we will be

>able to observe that by a decrease in performance in case we switch

>back to a simpler mode). I'm just curious to see if this would work

>and whether users will get confused or will find it helpful.


>Cheers Eelke










>On 7/31/07, Reid Kimball <reid at rbkdesign.com> wrote:

>> 0_o... no one showed up to the meeting on Tuesday morning, here's what

>> I wanted to talk about.


>> Some of you have heard about my suggestion to begin talking about our

>> work in a larger context of "Games for All" instead of "Games for the

>> Disabled". I suggest this because I see an increasing trend from

>> publishers and developers showing great interest in making their games

>> more accessible, using the same techniques and methods we advocate.

>> However, they are applying these approaches not to the disabled, but

>> to the novice gamer who has never played before. The industry wants to

>> continue this growth and the only way they believe they can do that is

>> to broaden our reach to people who don't play games. Luckily, their

>> approaches also benefit those who are disabled, for the most part.


>> I think our new approach when talking with developers should be to

>> highlight, that we can help them make Games for All, and as an added

>> benefit, most features will already help disabled to play their games

>> without them having to do anything extra.


>> As an example, Peter Molyneux, famed game designer is working on Fable

>> 2 which features a one button combat system.


>> "I want as many people to play this game as humanly possible," series

>> visionary Peter Molyneux told us as he began the demo. "To do that,

>> it's all about making the experience as accessible as possible, and

>> doing that comes down to this," he said, holding up the 360

>> controller. The key to accessibility is simplifying the controls so

>> anyone can pick up and play the game, he argues. "Action-RPGs like

>> Fable are 60 percent combat," he said, "so we absolutely have to get

>> that right. If we're going to make it so that anyone can play this, we

>> need to simplify things. In Fable 2, all of the combat is executed

>> with one button."

>> Source - http://www.1up.com/do/previewPage?cId=3161110


>> EA Sports has announced a new control mode in some of their sports

>> games called Family Play.


>> "EA SPORTS Family Play on the Wii creates an incredibly accessible and

>> user-friendly experience that the whole family will enjoy," said Dave

>> McCarthy, Executive Producer for the three games developed at EA

>> Canada. "While many fans love to control every piece of the action,

>> novice players can have just as much fun jumping in to throw a

>> touchdown pass, nail a three pointer or take a shot on goal. Family

>> Play brings together fans of all ages to enjoy playing EA SPORTS

>> games, and even let's them ease in to Advanced play if they desire."

>> Source - http://games.ign.com/articles/801/801917p1.html


>> LucasArts, the company I work for is in the this same mindset, that we

> > must find ways to make our games more accessible so that we can

>> attract people who don't normally play games.


>> Because of this recent trend and our ability to position ourself as a

>> leader in this area, I'm doing some research. I believe that novice

>> players might experience the same exact control issues that disabled

>> people do. The only difference is that the novice player is able to

>> improve their skills to overcome the physical and mental barriers they

>> first experience. I'd like more thoughts on this, data that proves

>> this to be true. The only thing I've found yet is this artice,


>> http://primotechnology.com/issues/004/04/warrior-woman.html, in it I

>> think I've found many quotes that point to the same kinds of physical

>> AND learning disabilities as Dyspraxia, Dysgraphia.


>> In the end, I'd like to produce an article for Gamasutra with quotes

>> from Peter Molyneux, Will Wright, Sid Meir, EA and anyone else I can

>> find talking about the value of making Games for All and problems and

>> solutions encountered.


>> -Reid

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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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