[games_access] Personas, etc. but what is really needed...

Ben Sawyer bsawyer at dmill.com
Fri May 25 05:15:57 EDT 2007

The personas idea sounds pretty cool and I agree it would help.

One of the things that I think would get developers moving a bit more
and really possibly improve progress and pressure on developers is if
there was a universal SDK and set of standard libraries that could be
linked in to any game where the result of XX programmer weeks would
result in a game that has far more accessibility. Perhaps everything
can't be solved this way but until there is a standardized SDK to
some extent you won't get as far.

Once there is an open source standard SDK that is updated and worked
on (hopefully with aide by professional developers and perhaps with
funding too) and perhaps aided by university research in an organized
fashion then it becomes a matter of brow beating publishers to do the
work to integrate it just like every other SDK past/present/future
works. It becomes a semi-singular response - this games supports the
SDK this game does not.

Also it would seem if you could create standard icons for
accessibility like we see from GameSpy, ESRB, PC-CDROM, EAX, XBOX
LIVE!, etc. that showcases in a second such compatibility that would
help as well. Perhaps a standard logo that would provide some quick
response to users about its compatibility with the SDK or various
specific standardize accessibility issues. What you might not know
e.g. is that the EMA (entertainment merchants association) controls
the standard PC-CDROM logo and that they license its use to the
publishers in return I think for nominal fees or at the least I think
it was 3 copies each of all games (which they then donate).

If you followed this idea in the long-term what you could do is A)
develop/galavenize the development of the SDK(s)/Librarie(s) and then
a standard logo of compliance with the SDK. No publisher could use
the logo without making a per-sku (not title) payment to the non-
profit that controlled the trademark (you could even write it into
the EULA of the open-source license probably) and the cost would be
low like $50-$100 per sku. EA put out probably 500-1000 worldwide
skus last year across all formats.

If you want to make progress in games you need to do it in software.
It's like getting press - the easier you make the other persons job
the more attention you will get. You need to create an ecosystem of
code not just an ecosystem of pressure because at the end of the day
linking in an API is a process most publishers and development
studios can deal with but writing new code from scratch doesn't
work. Going to several different sites to cobble together existing
code doesn't work. Etc.

If you had a one-stop code repository and GOOD docs then what happens
if the accompanying pressure/customer service comes into play is you
will probably see 3-4 things happen:

1. You will be able to boil down average strong compliance to an
average cost per title to link in the SDK as opposed to an amorphous
cost it would be fairly standard and trackable. When you have that
you can create awareness that EA and others are ignoring a trivial
cost and QA process.

2. You will be able to argue that the console companies could
integrate the SDK into their own libraries and middleware and (cross
fingers) their QA process.

3. You will see studios/publishers assign junior / intern programmers
to the SDK as a project. With an API, docs, standard process it's a
great "here kid do this!" project. There is little supervision and
worry about virgin code. As a manager you have to hope a new
programmer is at least good enough to integrate in a standard API or
they're worthless.

4. You will see programmers inside companies who are trying to win
the right to integrate these features do so more frequently because
it will be a standardized process. The industry is beginning to
standardize development practices more and with an SDK you can get
into that pipeline better.

5. You will see more industry support for the SDK itself and in
general I think far better compliance.

I'm not the expert - perhaps such code exists but I googled for it
and didn't see anything right away. It would seem you could
standardize some libraries for color blindness, one switch
controller, head mounted mice, closed captioning, etc. If you at
least outlined what an spec for it would be then a place like
Carnegie Melon, USC, and other universities could be asked to assign
students to develop the initial codebase.

If you want a campaign to work write code. That is the single
biggest impediment. With it then the excuses or non-attention by
developers will be much harder for them to pull. If you're going to
apply a hammer you need the anvil.

- Ben

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