[games_access] Press Release: Game Accessibility Arcade to be Presented at Game Developers Conference 2008

d. michelle hinn hinn at uiuc.edu
Wed Feb 13 12:36:56 EST 2008


Please forward!!

For Immediate Release

Game Accessibility Arcade to be Presented at Game Developers Conference 2008

Event to Showcase Solutions for Creating
Accessible Versions of Commercial and Independent
Games and Game Controllers for Gamers with
Disabilities; IGDA Game Accessibility Group to
Host; Corporate Participants Include Emotiv,
NaturalPoint, and more.

CHAMPAIGN, IL - February 13, 2008 - The Game
Accessibility Special Interest Group (SIG) of the
International Game Developers Association (IGDA)
will be presenting its popular Accessibility
Arcade session at the Game Developers Conference
2008 in San Francisco at the Moscone Center,
February 18 - 22. SIG members hope that these
sessions will provide the opportunity will help
raise awareness amongst game developers and the
gaming media that people with disabilities also
want the chance to play commercial games and game
controllers that have been re-designed for
computers and the latest console systems.

"The message we hope to convey at GDC 08 is that
games are for everyone and are an important part
of life today that cannot continue to be
inaccessible for people with disabilities," said
Michelle Hinn, chairperson of the Game
Accessibility SIG, game design instructor at the
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and
Game Accessibility Researcher at the National
Center for Supercomputing Applications. "The
majority of games on the market remain unplayable
by up to 10-20% of the population. This is not
only an opportunity for developers to increase
revenue - it is an issue of social injustice that
must be corrected."

SIG members also want to convey that Game
Accessibility does not mean non-creative,
non-innovative games. Hinn welcomes both skeptics
and supporters of game accessibility to see the
opportunities for fostering a more socially aware
industry and "to educate themselves and help
break down preconceived notions about configuring
games and controllers that can also include
gamers with disabilities. Come take a look at
some of the incredible next generation
controllers that we'll have on display from
Emotiv, Natural Point, One Switch, as well as
game accessibility solutions such as Doom3 and
other games with complete closed captioning by
Reid Kimball of Games[cc] and "Blind Hero," which
allows the blind to play guitar hero using a
haptic device developed by SIG member Eelke
Folmer at the University of Nevada, Reno. And
find out more about our partner sites,
AbleGamers.com and One Switch, to see how we are
getting information not just to the game
development community but also out to gamers with
disabilities themselves about games and
controllers that are or can become accessible at
one of the kiosks we'll have to showcase these
web communities. These are just some of the many
examples we'll have for session goers to interact
with. And, hey, who doesn't want to do the Jedi
Mind Trick?"

Commercial controllers that help represent the
future of accessible game play and controllers
that will be shown include those by:

o Emotiv: A pioneer in brain computer
interface (BCI) technology, Emotiv Systems
creates technologies that allow machines to take
both conscious and non-conscious inputs directly
from your mind. Currently focused on the gaming
industry, its Emotiv EPOC wireless nueroheadset
enables video games to respond to players'
emotions and expressions and allows players to
manipulate objects in the game using the power of
their thoughts. This entirely new interface will
dramatically change the gaming experience by
making it more immersive, intuitive and personal.

o NaturalPoint: NaturalPoint's SmartNav
has been making gaming possible for people with
physical disabilities around the globe for seven
years. Complete computer independence is
achieved with this hands-free ergonomic mouse by
using only slight head movements. Elizabeth
Ryan, SmartNav Marketing Director, says "Optical
head tracking has been a breakthrough in
assistive technology, making PC gaming accessible
for those that can only move their heads."

o Oneswitch.org.uk: One Switch is a
UK-based organization/web site that reaches out
to gamers with cognitive and mobility
disabilities throughout the world. One Switch
provides controllers that have been "rerouted" in
order to allow gamers with disabilities to play
commercial computer and console games, as well as
Do-It-Yourself guides for those who want to
modify their own controllers to make them
accessible.

The response by the industry toward adding in
game accessibility features into their products
"Šhas been dismal. The gaming industry cannot
just assume that because these controllers hacks
exist that they are off the hook," Hinn added.
"There are many types of disabilities that impact
game play in different ways. Even if someone is
using these controllers, many are quite costly -
often more than a game and even a console system
- and many games still remain impossible to play
due to issues such as button combination choices
that seem to be complex just to be complex and
cannot be reconfigured. But this criticism has
not only been made by disability advocates -
Industry veterans such as Ernest Adams and Peter
Molyneux have also spoken out on the game
complexity control issue for gamers in general.
Solutions that help gamers with disabilities can
enhance the game play experience for ALL gamers."

The Game Accessibility SIG will be presenting the following sessions at GDC:

Accessibility Arcade: Or How to Do the Jedi Mind
Trick (Day One): Wednesday (Feb 20nd); 4:00pm -
5:00pm; Room 121, North Hall

Accessibility Arcade: Or How to Do the Jedi Mind
Trick (Day Two): Thursday (Feb 21st); 9:00am -
10:00am; Room 121, North Hall

Dynamic Closed Captioning for Your Game
Date/Time: Thursday (Feb 21st); 1:00pm - 2:00pm;
Station 2, 2nd Floor

Game Accessibility & Developers with Disabilities
Group Gathering Date/Time: Thursday (Feb 21st,
2008); 2:30pm - 3:30pm; IGDA Booth, West Hall

For more information about these sessions, the
SIG, or to schedule an interview about any of the
sessions or game accessibility in general,
contact Michelle Hinn, IGDA Game Accessibility
SIG Chair, at 1.217.898.9684 or at hinn at uiuc.edu
-- Members of the SIG will be available the
entire week of GDC.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

About the IGDA Game Accessibility Special Interest Group (SIG)

The IGDA Game Accessibility SIG is a game
industry advocacy group formed to promote
awareness of the issues that gamers with
disabilities face and to help provide solutions
that can be used to design games that are
accessible to all. For more information on the
IGDA Game Accessibility SIG, please visit
www.igda.org/accessibility -- Press inquires
should be directed to the SIG chairperson
Michelle Hinn at hinn at uiuc.edu or by mobile phone
at 1-217-898-9684.

About the International Game Developers Association (IGDA)

The International Game Developers Association is
a non-profit professional society that is
committed to advancing the careers and enhancing
the lives of game developers by connecting
members with their peers, promoting professional
development, and advocating on issues that affect
the developer community. For more information on
the IGDA, please visit www.igda.org

About Emotiv

Emotiv Systems is a pioneer in brain computer
interface technology. Its focus is on leveraging
neuro-technology to create the ultimate interface
for the next-generation of man-machine
interaction. It does this by evolving the
interaction between human beings and electronic
devices beyond the limits of conscious interface.
Emotiv creates technologies that allow machines
to take both conscious and non-conscious inputs
directly from your brain. These technologies
include a hardware and software platform that can
be licensed to commercial software developers and
other third parties, as well as a suite of
products for consumer applications.

Today, Emotiv is developing solutions
specifically for the electronic games industry.
In the future, Emotiv's technology has the
potential to be applied to numerous industries,
including interactive television, accessibility
design, market research, medicine, and security.

Founded by four award-winning scientists and
technology entrepreneurs, Emotiv is headquartered
in San Francisco, CA, and has offices in Sydney,
Australia. Investors include Technology Venture
Partners, Epicure Capital Partners and the
Australian Federal Government. More information
is available at www.emotiv.com.

About NaturalPoint

NatturalPoint is Based in Corvallis, Oregon.
NaturalPoint® is the creator and manufacturer of
the SmartNAV, TrackIR, and OptiTrack product
lines. NaturalPoint specializes in providing
innovative control solutions through optical
tracking technology, and has developed tracking
systems for computers, video games, military
simulators, and unique display systems. Press
inquires should be directed to Elizabeth Ryan,
Marketing Director, at elizabeth at naturalpoint.com
or by mobile phone at 541.207.7976

About AbleGamers.com

AbleGamers.com is an online community for
disabled gamers. Founded by two gamers with
disabilities, AbleGamers provides news,
interviews, and more to gamers with disabilities
as well as provides a way for game developers to
get directly connected to the potential consumer
base of gamers with disabilities. AbleGamers is
an official partner of the IGDA Game
Accessibility SIG. Press inquires should be
directed to Mark Barlet, Editor-in-chief, at
ioo at ablegamers.com or by phone at 1-202-258-1937.

About Games[cc]

Games[cc] is a company that provides closed
captioning solutions via its "Dynamic Closed
Captioning" system for videogames that allows
gamers with hearing impairments or who chose to
game without sound to see every line of dialog,
sound effects and music displayed on screen in
real time, dynamically changing by the players'
interactions. In 2006, less than 1% of all the
games rated by the ESRB were closed captioned,
preventing millions of deaf and hard of hearing
players from achieving maximum enjoyment of their
games. Press inquires should be directed to Reid
Kimball, Owner, at seethesound at rbkdesign.com or
by phone at 415-632-9982.

About Oneswitch.org.uk

The One Switch Organisation is a UK based web
site reaching out to learning and physically
disabled gamers around the world. One Switch
provides nearly one hundred free games playable
with a single button, an Accessible Gaming Shop,
D.I.Y. accessible controller guides and more. One
Switch is an official partner of the IGDA Game
Accessibility SIG. Press inquires should be
directed to Barrie Ellis, Owner, at
info at oneswitch.org.uk
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