[games_access] MMOG Topics for Terra Nova?

d. michelle hinn hinn at uiuc.edu
Mon May 21 14:35:01 EDT 2007

Lol...well, I'm not sure why I do this, as I'm not sure it's a common
dyslexic thing but I meant to say MARK from AbleGamers and not Mike!



>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"



>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? :)




>>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



>>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.











>>----- 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.





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