[games_access] Thinking about GDC 08's competition

d. michelle hinn hinn at uiuc.edu
Sat Jun 2 19:21:28 EDT 2007

>>Btw: I thought of this concept when I read about the idea of

>>sighted users leading blind-users through Second Life, as a guide.

>>Helping each other out in a co-op game could prove to be a new kind

>>of game accessibility?



>I was thinking about that the other day, but then in the context of

>World of Warcraft. What if a blind user in WoW would automatically

>start out as a level 60 wizard able to cast very powerful spells but

>requiring voice input& guidance from other party members? (assuming

>this player belongs to a party). Other party members would

>automatically try to protect this player as its very handy to have

>such a powerful wizard in your party. This way a kind of symbiotic

>relationship is created which is fair.

I like the idea and it meld's well with some of my papers on social
learning and gaming in coop and comp games -- the way people together
invent the "real" rules of the game that is to be played that may or
may not have to do with how the game was imagined by the designer
(think of three children's playing the same character in a single
player game yet someone making it into a competitive experience by
some sort of rules they agree upon).

I know that this cooperation does exist in guilds already for various
games -- where everyone knows that one of the players is blind or
whatnot. The trouble is negotiating this in real life -- for instance
the player might know a couple of the guild members in real life so
there's already a relationship in existence. But what if the player
doesn't know anyone going into the game? It would be interesting to
hear from different people on how and when and if they disclosed a
disability and what things were successful for them as they met
people in world and what was not.

Some troubles I see with this all come down to human nature and I
think this is something that makes virtual worlds so different from
other game worlds. How much would it cost, say, Blizzard set up a
system where a blind player could "register" and how would they
prevent misuse (things always go back to misuse -- where
"accessibility" makes gamers and game makers nervous because what if
someone is using whatever it is to have an unfair advantage....this
is not my opinion but rather the excuses I/we hear). And without
careful moderation, a company could say that their accessibility
features are "well the other users will help out" but in real life
maybe the game players would not provide this help. Or maybe a blind
user does become a level 60 automatically...will people trust that
the person is really blind? Then again, does it matter if, say, there
could only be one level 60 "auto wizard" per party? Could "playing
at" disability (like one plays at gender, gender roles, race, etc in
games by choosing to be something that they are not in real life) be
a positive social experience in helping people understand about
disability? Then again...are all gamers so enlightened?

Lots of interesting ideas...and lots of interesting potential
problems to sort out with MMOs.


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