[games_access] Austin Game Developers Conference (AGDC)

Barrie Ellis barrie.ellis at oneswitch.org.uk
Sun Sep 16 03:49:43 EDT 2007

Brilliant! Nice work!


----- Original Message -----
From: "d. michelle hinn" <hinn at uiuc.edu>
To: "IGDA Games Accessibility SIG Mailing List" <games_access at igda.org>
Sent: Sunday, September 16, 2007 12:59 AM
Subject: [games_access] Austin Game Developers Conference (AGDC)

> Hi all,


> So my promised debrief on AGDC two weeks ago. Richard will no doubt

> have more to say about reactions to the presentation outside the

> hours after the presentation, as I was confined to my bed from very

> early that evening and until I left (early) for home with that nice

> little pneumonia that followed the kidney infection (and they think I

> got it in hospital...which is common...but still a little strange to

> hear).


> Richard and I had worked separately on our halves of the presentation

> until we arrived in Austin. Richard concentrated on examples of audio

> games and I worked on the game accessibility bits -- the need for,

> introducing the issues of audio for the hearing impaired (had to give

> them the other side of the audio issue). The presentation was titled

> "When Audio IS the Experience: Games for the Visually Impaired" and

> should be available on the web for download soon. I'll post news when

> I learn about it.


> We weren't sure how it would be received given how few people show

> for our sessions at GDC San Fran AND the fact we were in the audio

> track, which isn't the usual track for us (although it made perfect

> sense once we were there). We'd been invited by the conference chairs

> -- they tried to get us last year but they asked too late and we

> couldn't make it but we could this year. So first of all...they

> wanted the session so badly that they contacted us at the earliest

> possible time to try to get the session this year. Impressive!


> So the audience...wow. The head count according to our session

> coordinator was about 60 and only about 3-4 people walked out and

> that was near the end when it was getting close to the time that some

> people needed to start setting up the Game Audio reception. So I

> don't see them as "losses" -- they just stayed as long as they could.

> GDC Austin is a LOT smaller than GDC San Fran -- so an audience of

> apx 60 people was pretty huge considering all the multiple tracks

> going on simultaneously.


> Richard and I argued a bit about my "closer" for the talk, which

> referenced social justice as a reason to care about game

> accessibility, as we were afraid that might turn off a dev audience

> who is concerned with the bottom line and not social messages. What

> was interesting was that we talked about game accessibility "why's"

> at the END of the presentation so that they got to hear the audio

> games, get a taste of what we were talking about and then I did my

> evangelist work. :) But taking the social justice chance worked and I

> think it was probably because we were talking to an audience of

> people who are already "right on" with the audio message and the idea

> that their work could serve another important purpose really sank in.

> We got wild applause at the end of the talk and we had people talking

> to us for about an hour AFTER the talk (we went ten minutes OVER time

> with audience questions alone (20 minutes total), which made the

> audio guy really anxious, as it was the end of the day and he

> probably wanted to take off! ).


> In the week after I've received some great emails and I'm hoping

> we'll get more audio designers on the list very soon. Our talk was

> also sponsored by an anonymous donator -- I'll tell you who it is if

> I can get his permission (I know who it is now). He's an audio

> designer who first got interested in the idea of gamers with

> disabilities after DJ-ing a dance for a school for the deaf. He was

> perplexed as to why they wanted a DJ. The students showed up with

> balloons in their hands and, of course, he was now really interested

> in what the deal was. Turns out that as the music started, the

> students put the balloons up to the side of their faces and danced to

> the rhythms that they felt through the balloons. Wow. I'd heard some

> things like facing the speakers down to try and pipe the beat into

> the floor but with so many students, this was the better option.


> Anyway, Richard and I both agreed that diversifying our talks more

> into different tracks at GDC is definitely the way to go -- we seem

> to have found a friendly audience amongst audio designers, further

> supporting Reid's comments about his colleague. So let's push it

> further! :)


> Finally...preaching to the audio choir on a topic that they weren't

> already interested in! Very different from having the same people in

> every audience at every GDC!


> Michelle

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