[games_access] Austin Game Developers Conference (AGDC)

Eelke Folmer eelke.folmer at gmail.com
Sun Sep 16 04:52:28 EDT 2007

Hey Michelle,

great job! 60 people is very nice. I'm totally with you on being
pervasive (e.g. put accessibility in existing game topics rather than
the other way around!).

Cheers Eelke

On 9/15/07, d. michelle hinn <hinn at uiuc.edu> wrote:

> 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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Eelke Folmer Assistant Professor
Department of CS&E/171
University of Nevada Reno, Nevada 89557
Game interaction design www.helpyouplay.com

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