[games_access] GDC: in retrospect

Barrie Ellis barrie.ellis at oneswitch.org.uk
Tue Mar 13 13:27:38 EDT 2007

I think we need to build upon our past work - no doubt about it. And definitely we need to plan our promotion in advanced in a more organised way, without leaving everything on Michelle's doorstep.

We do need to simplify what we are asking for from main-stream developers. I think the concept of making all games highly accessible to all bamboozles developers.

Why don't we press for some of the things we'd most like to see, that are easiest to implement, that would benefit more gamers - then stick to that doggedly. For developers wishing to expand further into accessibility - we should make that easy to understand too.

I'd love to see us have some examples knocked up of generic games made highly accessible with explanations, perhaps using the Design Patterns format that Eelke uses: http://www.eelke.com/research/accessibility.html

Perhaps we should be demanding/developing guidelines for:

Reconfigurable controls.
Consideration for alternative controllers/reduced controls.
Good menu design.
Speed control.
Some kind of Accessibility marking system.

I think is plenty to be asking for to start off with.

We need to keep building, but also become more and more transparant.


----- Original Message -----
From: Eelke Folmer
To: IGDA Games Accessibility SIG Mailing List
Cc: chris at chrisquinn.com
Sent: Tuesday, March 13, 2007 7:59 AM
Subject: [games_access] GDC: in retrospect

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 audience?

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


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