[games_access] Games for Health to Invest in Games Accessibility

Ben Sawyer bsawyer at dmill.com
Fri Nov 16 11:28:39 EST 2007

And thanks to Michelle for her leadership and for keeping this quiet
long enough. It's been killing me to hold back.

- Ben

On Nov 16, 2007, at 11:25 AM, <hinn at uiuc.edu> wrote:

> Hey everyone -- so Ben and I have been discussing this for a time

> now and we're working together to come up with a plan as to how to

> best use this generous donation, find matching funds, etc. So this

> is the real deal! So, hey, we have some money now! So put on your

> thinking caps and help us think of ways to best invest our money so

> that it helps the SIG long-term!


> And thanks to Ben, of course, for his incredible support and

> including us in this initiative!


> Michelle


> ---- Original message ----

>> Date: Fri, 16 Nov 2007 08:54:26 -0500

>> From: Ben Sawyer <bsawyer at dmill.com>

>> Subject: [games_access] Games for Health to Invest in Games

>> Accessibility

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


>> Hi everyone,


>> I've got some big news. As many of you saw Games for Health is part

>> of a new round of investment by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

>> into games and healthcare. We're extremely excited about this new

>> development.


>> As part of our specific grant we have allocated resources

>> specifically to support the IGDA Accessibility community.


>> Over the next two years we will directly contribute funds to SIG

>> activities. The amount is set but I can't reveal it yet as much as I

>> want to because I'm actually looking to make it more by finding some

>> other organizations who will join us with matching funds. Right now

>> I can tell you this - it's more then $10,000.


>> The funds will be used to support your activities but there are of

>> course some simple strings. Basically the funds will be released

>> once there is a written plan in place that provides for how and what

>> the funds will be spent on. That plan needs my approval and

>> subsequently I have to have the approval of the foundation for all my

>> work. I don't want it to sound dictatorish -- I'm pretty liberal for

>> what they should be used for but my basic goals are as follows:


>> 1. I'd like to see the community double is size as outlined by some

>> simple metrics (i.e. number of subscribers to the listserv, number of

>> people in the industry you are in regular contact with, number of

>> talks in front of audiences, etc.)


>> 2. I'd like to see the community produce some written plans that

>> outline roadmaps for better accessibility efforts -- especially

>> research roadmap.


>> 3. I want to establish a standalone conference on games accessibility

>> attached to our Games for Health Conference (so we can combine

>> logistics and hit on overlapping communities of interest).


>> 4. I am also specifically interested in identifying and doing what we

>> can to nurture research into how accessibility to games improves

>> people with disabilities mentally, socially, and physically.

>> Eventually leading to some great empirical and evidence based

>> research published - to the extent we don't already have this.


>> Beyond those goals I look to everyone here in the community to really

>> drive things. So the restriction is the production of a plan that

>> seems smartly aimed toward these goals. Within that framework the

>> funds can support travel subsidies, creating really nice brochures,

>> improved Web site content and access, etc.


>> I've already discussed the gist of this with Michelle and I've asked

>> her to produce with everyones help the plan and present it to me

>> before the end of the year. The funds are for 2008 and 2009.


>> Games Accessibility Conference

>> I am very serious as I've said before in establishing a one-day

>> conference on games accessibility along side our Games for Health

>> Conference. We have facilities, hotel blocks, registration systems,

>> logistical support, massive PR support, already in place for this.


>> The date to hold this would be May 7, 2008 which is the day before

>> Games for Health opens. It would be a one day conference with a

>> single track to start and a demo area. We would also probably

>> feature 2 sessions on accessibility at Games for Health on Thursday

>> and Friday. I hope this date works for everyone as much as possible

>> - I can't really move it. Hopefully it just works as best it can.

>> In 2009 we hope to have more flexibility for you.


>> I want the SIG to take on the role of developing the content. My

>> only stipulation is 25% of the content MUST be focused on talks that

>> explore how accessibility technologies, research, and efforts can be

>> applied to health for people with permanent, temporary, or on-setting

>> disabilities. The rest of the content can be focused on core needs,

>> case studies, research, etc. that will improve the accessibility of

>> games in general for any purpose -- especially entertainment.


>> Speakers would attend for free. All other registrants would be

>> charged an amount <$200 to attend. My goal is that the event be

>> break-even or even profitable within itself. I would share 50% of

>> the profits from the event back to the SIG by adding it to the grant

>> funds we have available. The other funds if there is a profit would

>> be reinvested for planning the following year, etc.


>> We very much want to make this event happen. The Robert Wood Johnson

>> Foundation team we work with has someone on it with deep contacts in

>> the accessibility community and is going to talk with a variety of

>> government agencies involved with accessibility to drive them to

>> support this event. That becomes a doorway to driving them to

>> support more pervasive accessibility activities.


>> We will be promoting this event heavily to all our attendees. We

>> will be filming parts of it, we will make an expo area available to

>> showcase work, and we will have dedicated PR staff on the event.


>> The event is to be held in Baltimore, MD which is served by Southwest

>> Airlines which makes it pretty inexpensive to get to. We are also

>> quite proximate to the federal government which is a big plus. We've

>> got two hotels blocked out and we're searching for an ultra

>> inexpensive block as well.


>> My goal is to have 50-100 people attend the event. My hopes are

>> 25-50% stay over for the rest of our event that week so yes from a

>> total transparency standpoint I'm hoping this increases my

>> conference's core profitability. Win-win.


>> If there is a good sense we can pull of the conference idea as

>> planned I want to make it part of our conference announcements in the

>> coming weeks. I also will be including games accessibility in our

>> call for content next week. We expect to then forward those papers

>> to a committee formed here to accept and mold that content. I will

>> advise you on content just from my experience of organizing events

>> but other then the 25% requirement I really leave it to you as the

>> experts to decide what will be important for people to hear and learn

>> from.



>> So hopefully you're still digesting this all but the reason I'm

>> writing this all and providing as much information as I can is I need

>> the following help - please reply to the list with your thoughts:


>> 1. I do need general feedback - ask questions, provide comments, I

>> will do my best to answer them.


>> 2. I need NAMES of people you think are in a position or at

>> organizations in a position to possibly decide to match our funds. I

>> really want our funds to catalyze others to chip in. There is no

>> reason this can't eventually snowball to generate over $100,000 or

>> more in due time. At least that's my hope.


>> I am already reaching out to Microsoft, Intel, Cisco, IBM and a few

>> others. The early reception has been ok but until we release this

>> more publicly I expect things to be slow to develop. If you give me

>> more names I'll follow up hard.



>> The basic outline for this all for me is as follows:


>> 1. I want to announce the funds and the goals for them before Xmas.

>> My goal is we have 2 other funders matching 50% or more of the funds

>> by then so they can be named in the Press Release.


>> 2. I want to then announce in the press release that the original

>> funders are challenging anyone else with resources to join this

>> funding -- as part of this I was thinking it'd be cool to setup an

>> individual fundraising effort too - let gamers, and individual

>> developers provide funds to match the larger gifts.


>> 3. In order to accomplish points 1 & 2 the goal would be to have a

>> basic plan in place because the core goals of that plan would be

>> articulated to the public so they can understand what the funds will

>> hopefully accomplish. Ultimately if we raised enough my hopes are it

>> would accomplish funding development of more accessibility

>> technologies, standards, and SDKs to make it easier for all game

>> developers to put these features in their games. I also hope it

>> might fund prototypes or games that are specific for people with

>> disabilities like some of the audio only games we've seen from the

>> community thus far.



>> I've been following the work of the SIG and all of you here for

>> sometime. As I've said many times the work here is extremely

>> relevant to the work I do on serious games, and games for health.

>> I've been hoping to bring some funds to the table to help and while

>> it's not as much as I wanted if I can parlay it with your help into a

>> large enough amount it hopefully can help be the fuel for the spark

>> you've more then created.


>> Thank you all,


>> Ben





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> .......................................

> these are mediocre times and people are

> losing hope. it's hard for many people

> to believe that there are extraordinary

> things inside themselves, as well as

> others. i hope you can keep an open

> mind.

> -- "unbreakable"

> .......................................

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