[games_access] GDC: in retrospect

Eelke Folmer eelke.folmer at gmail.com
Tue Mar 13 03:59:48 EDT 2007

Hi Everybody,

I hope everybody recovered from GDC and made it safely back home. I
enjoyed seeing everybody again and finally meeting up with some
people in this SIG (Reid/ Robert) that I hadn't met before.

First of all a big disclaimer: this email is not meant to hurt anyone
or crush anyones ego.
That being taken care off, I'd like to open up the discussion on the
future of this SIG, because frankly I am a bit worried where we are
heading. First of all, Michelle and numerous other SIG members have
done a very good job organizing all sorts of events in the past, but
we can't ignore the fact that the attendance at our events is still
very low. This lack of attendance (and I'm not even talking about how
people rate our events) will affect our ability to organize more
events in the future. The media coverage we had at this GDC is good,
but whether that will reach the people that we are trying to
influence is open for discussion, unless will wright's parents watch
local tv ;-) I wonder whether the time spent in front of the camera
could have been better spent handing out flyers for accessibility
idol (like I originally suggested to).

When only 25 people (of which 10 left) attend our top event
(accessibility idol) I think we cannot ignore the fact that we are
doing something wrong. We can blame the low attendance on poor
scheduling but considering the large number of events (6 in total)
opening up a room with no talks scheduled, out of 15.000 people
present at GDC at least the same number of people should randomly
walk in. Now I don't know about figures in the past since I have only
joined 6 months ago (which I heard were even lower) but even
"growing" at this rate is not acceptable, because that would mean
that we have to wait until GDC 2020 before we have a 100 people,
meaning that gears of war 5 god of war 6 will still be inaccessible
until then.

Accessibility is important now and the sooner we are successful the
better for gamers with disabilities. People pay good money to attend
this conference and they demand high quality talks that are
beneficial to their organization, we should recognize that. There is
no reason to put the blame one anyone, as no doubt everybody's
intentions in this SIG are excellent, but I think we fail as as an
organization if we don't look back upon our past events and identify
what works and what doesn't work and let's all decide on a shared
vision on what we should organize, where, why and how. In my opinion
we have done the same trick over and over again without the desired
success. We tried to sell accessibility into different formats and it
still doesn't work, the low attendance of accessibility idols being
proof of that. We have the message but we don't have the audience.
Why do we still work on the message and not focus on getting the

I have outlined a plan (which I dub ACCESSIBILITY 2.0) consisting of
5 action points & clear goals that will put this SIG back on track,
make it as successful as other SIGS (education/writing), increase
the attendance at our events, and putting accessibility on the
roadmap of game developers like we set out to.

Before I share my vision with you i'd like to know whether I'm alone
in the observation that things should change. I don't want to waste
anyone's time and If people are happy to continue along the chosen
path, I respect that. Someone else has a different vision? share it!
at least the benefits of writing this email is that we have a
dialogue on the future of this SIG, which can only be good, because
we all want accessible games right?

Cheers Eelke

Eelke Folmer Assistant
Department of Computer Science & Engineering/171
University of Nevada Reno, Nevada 89557
Game Quality usability|accessibility.eelke.com

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