[games_access] MMOG Topics for Terra Nova?

d. michelle hinn hinn at uiuc.edu
Mon May 21 14:12:18 EDT 2007


Thanks Tim and Barrie! I'll gather together a post that covers your
ideas (and, no, Tim...you aren't crazy!). I have a whole bunch of
posts ready to go and I think I'm just going to overload the TN
crowd. I like how one person assumed that I was wholesale rallying
AGAINST the industry -- yes, in part...but only because I want people
INCLUDED and not the usual "let's shut down the industry" rants.

And I'd like to welcome Mike from AbleGamers to our list! It's great
to have a MMOG group joining in! Mike -- please let us know some of
the exciting things that you are up to. We're not a huge group but we
are loud and passionate. Sometimes we argue but we all are on the
same side -- what family doesn't have it's spats now and again? :)

Michelle


>Excellent post, Tim. I think you've covered most of it there.

>

>I think it's worth posting up some information on

>http://www.ablegamers.com/ - as they are particullarly into

>Massively Multiplayer On-line Role Playing Games (MMORPG's). They

>aren't huge, but they seem a good bunch.

>

>Bit more on them here: http://ablegamers.com/content/view/16/66/

>

>I think that the partitioning idea may be essential for some gamers

>where they can play according to ability. I remember going to

>MegaZone

>(http://www.rayleighmegazone.co.uk/index.php?page=gallery&sub=picsub)

>where you wear a special flak jacket and carry a laser gun in a

>warehouse full of dry ice. My friends and I were obiliterated by

>'hard-core gamers'. I.e. some pathetic geeky kids that probably

>spent all their spare time playing this game. We'd have had much

>more fun if they'd had their seperate gaming arena - and us -

>less-able - gamers our own. Can't see any problem at all in that for

>MMORPGs either.

>

>Anyway, my witterings done - keep chipping away. Perhaps we really

>do need to reassure the insecure hard-core gamers with

>12-year-old-boy mentality that they can still keep their zen-master

>settings and gameplay alongside others being able to play their game

>too.

>

>Barrie

>www.OneSwitch.org.uk

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>----- Original Message ----- From: "Tim Chase" <agdev at thechases.com>

>To: "IGDA Games Accessibility SIG Mailing List" <games_access at igda.org>

>Sent: Sunday, May 20, 2007 1:36 AM

>Subject: Re: [games_access] MMOG Topics for Terra Nova?

>

>>>I have LOTS of ideas for posts but I don't think that they

>>>will be received well by the Terra Nova crowd -- if anyone

>>>can help me think through how to post about a particular

>>>topic, even if it's only very narrowly related, I'd

>>>appreciate it!

>>

>>In these forums (forae?) at TN and on other popular gaming

>>boards, I repeatedly see a couple issues thrown in the face

>>of efforts here:

>>

>>1) adding accessibility features "dumbs down" the game

>>removing the fun/challenge for the hard-core gamers;

>>

>>2) equating the accomodation of all disabilities with

>>accomodating even *some* disabilities; and

>>

>>3) the difficulty of adding certain accessibility features

>>to MMOG worlds

>>

>>Yes, it's hard to be all things to all people without it

>>dominating the design of the game--an aspect that may churn

>>the stomach of even the most socially-minded game designer.

>>However, even small advances on any of these fronts may make

>>significant headway for accessibility in gaming.

>>

>>For #1, there are repeated themes of how *certain* features

>>added for accessibility benefit all gamers. Things like

>>remappable controls or [CC] are often mentioned. Also, a

>>variety of difficulty levels, though not mentioned quite as

>>much, offer entry points for the casual gamer, but allow for

>>deeper challenges for the "industrial-strength" gamer.

>>

>>Just because a game offers remappable controls doesn't mean

>>hard-core gamers are going to be impared by it. Just

>>because someone can turn on [CC] and play with the audio off

>>while their wife/kids are sleeping, doesn't mean they have

>>some advantage over other folks. And if a hard-core gamer

>>finds the "easy" level too easy, well, that's their own dumb

>>fault and they should crank up the difficulty.

>>

>>Requiring less complex controls (whether as drastic as

>>one-switch or simply cutting back on the 20-buttons, 2

>>D-pads, 2 analog sticks, and 6 DoF gyro controls) makes the

>>game more accessibile not just to folks with mobility

>>problems, but to casual gamers in general. Cell-phone games

>>and one-switch games seem to be made for each other and for

>>marketing to the casual gamer.

>>

>>With #2, I think it would be helpful to enhance our

>>suggestions/top-10 list with annotations regarding the

>>difficulty to implement such a feature, how it impacts game

>>design, and how it helps reach a larger demographic (and how

>>large that market-increase is). The idea of creating a game

>>for the Who's _Tommy_ scares a lot of folks. When we

>>mention the word "accessibility", folks see a

>>black-and-white world in which a game is either

>>inaccessibile, or the "deaf, dumb, and blind kid [that] sure

>>plays a mean pinball" can play it. Perhaps clarifying that

>>there's a gradient of accessibility would soften our

>>message. While, yes, it would be great to make games that

>>Tommy can play against the hard-core gamer where they're

>>both on an equal footing, there's also a range of less

>>drastic measures that game designers can incorporate that

>>allow them to retain freedom of design while still

>>increasing their audience.

>>

>>The third item is one of the hardest and something that's

>>not been discussed quite so much on the list. A number of

>>features for accessibility come at odds with these worlds,

>>often because they mirror the same barriers that the real

>>world presents. Some of the items in our top-10 are

>>difficult if not impossible to implement in such a world:

>>

>>- slowing the game down like bullet-time impacts the whole

>> world, or

>>- giving everybody access to auto-aiming reduces the

>> challenge for those crazy hard-core gamers, and unlevels

>> some of the playing field

>>- adding [CC] becomes more difficult because there's not

>> just a pre-scripted set of lines that the audio department

>> records, but you have live voice-chat that doesn't [CC]

>> easily

>>- a broad range of difficulties is hard to implement when

>> the hard-core gamers are in the same world as those that

>> need easier challenges

>>

>>Theoretically, one could use voice recognition software to

>>do dynamic [CC] of voice-chat, but voice recognition

>>software still has a long way to go, and sucks up a lot of

>>processor time/power from games that may want it.

>>

>>I understand that some MMOGs have a partitioned world in

>>which the newbies (and those that need the "easy" setting)

>>can gain their footing. This is an elegant solution to the

>>problem, that players can stay in such a world as long as

>>they want/need, and venture into harder partitions as their

>>skills grow or as they need more difficulty.

>>

>>Perhaps a way to address some of the disparity in the world

>>is to make it publicly known which settings a person is

>>using and perhaps partition players by assistive

>>technologies; or reduce assistance as the player levels-up.

>>Or newbie players in the sandbox world may have very sloppy

>>aiming where auto-assist helps them. However, as they level

>>up, or adventure into more challenging sectors of the

>>universe, the auto-assist features start dialing back. This

>>could allow a player that needs assistive features to still

>>play, but also allow the hard-core gamers to get their fix

>>of difficulty.

>>

>>Anyways, if you've read this far and haven't written me off

>>as a loonie yet, thanks for playing the audience to my

>>long-winded ramblings. Michelle, I don't know if any of

>>this is helpful fodder for future postings, but it's mostly

>>a brain-dump of my reactions to some of these myths and

>>mis-impressions I see on such gaming boards when the topic

>>of accessibility comes up.

>>

>>-tim

>>

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