[games_access] Sid Meier and Barry Caudill Sit Down With AbleGamers

Ioo ioo at ablegamers.com
Mon Jun 25 20:32:31 EDT 2007

Thanks for the plug...

Mark Barlet

Barrie Ellis wrote:

> Great interview, cribbed from AbleGamers:

> http://ablegamers.com/content/view/41/63/... We should get in touch

> with them too I think...


> Barrie

> www.OneSwitch.org.uk <http://www.OneSwitch.org.uk>


> ------------------------------------------------------------------------


> Written by Mark C. Barlet

> Saturday, 26 May 2007


> I have been working on getting able gamers an interview with the

> legendary Sid Meier for over a year. Sending my first inquiry to

> Firaxis on May 18, 2006. At the time we received a positive response,

> but it seemed the activities around Railroads! caused our interview to

> be derailed. So I was all excited when a little over a month ago I was

> able to get the attention of the folks at Firaxis again. In short,

> Ablegamers was able to get an interview from Firaxis, but Sid was to

> busy for the interview. I admit I am disappointed, the views of

> someone as legendary as Sid would help the plight of disabled gamers

> all over the world, because when Sid talks, game developers listen. He

> was able to give us an opening statement, and for that I am grateful.


> That being said, Barry Caudill, Executive Producer, Firaxis Games sat

> down with us. Now I admire Barry a l lot, and he and I have a lot in

> common, he is a musician, as am I. He also started life as in the

> Quality Assurance department, and I have been in QA for 12 years,

> currently heading a QA department here in the tech corridor of

> Northern Virginia. Someday I hope to have Barry's job, just don't tell

> him.


> I am still holding out for an interview with Sid...


> Sid Meier:


> Hello AbleGamers!


> We're happy that Mark approached us for an interview. Its been a great

> introduction to your website and the start of what we hope to be a

> mutually beneficial relationship with your community. We want our

> games to be played and enjoyed by as many people as possible, and

> we're always looking for ways to achieve that goal. Firaxis has a very

> active and vocal fan community and the thoughts, ideas and concerns we

> hear from them have a big impact on the games we make. We invite you

> to become part of our community and look forward to hearing from you.

> Stay Civilized,


> Sid Meier


> *Ablegamers:* Do you take into account this large disabled segment of

> the US population (comparable to other nations as well) when

> developing games?


> *Barry Caudill: *We do make attempts to accommodate as many people as

> possible when designing our games. For example, we did include the

> ability to map any key to any action when we were developing Pirates.

> Mostly we work to support the predominant control systems available

> (keyboard, mouse, gamepad, joystick) wherever we can so people can

> choose what they want to use where it makes sense. We would be

> interested in hearing more about what the disabled community needs

> from our games.


> *AG:* Do you think that the disabled demographic is an underutilized

> market for mainstream games?


> *BC:* I have no frame of reference from which to answer this question.

> I think you'd be a better judge of that.


> *AG:* What is Firaxis Games doing to support the people with

> disabilities within the gaming community?


> *BC:* There is such a wide range of disabilities which makes it

> challenging to know exactly what players with disabilities need in

> games. We've made some accommodations with keyboard mapping, better

> user interfaces, and more graphic visuals and sound. Again, we're open

> to hearing more from disabled folks in the gaming community, we want

> everyone to enjoy our games


> *AG:* When you take a game into beta testing, have you ever

> intentionally brought people in that are disabled?


> *BC:* No we haven't specifically looked for people with disabilities

> for our beta testing teams. We want folks who are passionate about our

> games - we don't ask questions about their physical and mental

> abilities when looking for testers. Having said that, there may well

> be folks with disabilities on our beta teams, they just haven't

> identified themselves as such.


> *AG:* I know a few that would help (*Wink*)


> *BC:* We can always use more help (wink right back atcha ;) and we'd

> welcome your participation.


> *AG: *Simple changes to game interfaces, such as the ability to custom

> map actions to the keyboard or other input devices on the market (many

> for people with disabilities), or alternatives to the drag and drop

> (very hard for many) could make games better gamers with disabilities

> as well as those without.


> Do you think it is worth a developer's time to add these features to

> games?


> *BC:* I think we are in favor of adding anything that helps people

> play the game - provided it doesn't somehow hamper the overall

> intended game experience.


> *AG:* Nate, my partner in crime on AbleGamers.com, has a

> motor/muscular disorder; he says the best way for a fully able bodies

> person to understand what it is like to suffer from tremors or tactile

> issues is to try imagining the following scenarios: That one or both

> of your arms has fallen asleep, how well could you play the game? That

> you are shivering from the cold, how would that affect playability?


> Imagining that, would you still want to play the games you loved? If

> so, how would you do it?


> *BC: *I don't have a clue. It's incredibly hard for me to imagine

> exactly how I would feel under such circumstances and it's equally

> hard to imagine not being able to play the games I love. If Nate has

> some ideas to share with us we'd like to hear them.


> *AG:* Let me ask you something that has stumped me. There are 7.9

> Million people in the US who have a vision-related disability, with

> 1.8 million unable to see at all (according to the US Census Bureau),

> do you think main-stream gaming industry could do a better job trying

> to make games accessible to the visually impaired? Any ideas how?


> *BC:* The mainstream gaming industry is a very visual medium so it's

> definitely a challenge figuring out how to create the full game

> experience for the visually impaired. I think there could be an

> alternative kind of game designed around auditory clues or other forms

> of sensory perception. Games like this would probably require some

> form of private funding to get off the ground.


> *AG:* In addition, before we go, we at AbleGamers.com want to thank

> you for your time, I am sure that you are a very busy man with the

> expansion to Civ4 and maybe a Railroads! expansion also being worked on.


> So my last few questions:


> Has this interview made you further consider the issue of people with

> disabilities and how they play video games?


> *BC:* Yes it has. I'm looking forward to hearing more from the

> community with ideas on how we can make our games more accessible.


> *AG:* Will you factor that thought into currently developing games, or

> future works?


> *BC:* It will remain a part of the design discussions and we will do

> our best to make accommodations where we can.


> *AG:* Any final thoughts on this subject?


> *BC:* Thanks for the interview and keep the feedback coming.


> *AG:* What are you working on now? What can we look forward to from

> such a famed game designer?


> *BC:* We're working on a game that could very well be the best game

> we've ever made. Stay tuned for more details soon!




> Last Updated ( Saturday, 16 June 2007 )


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