[games_access] Blizzard, WoW, and Accessibility Concerns

d. michelle hinn hinn at uiuc.edu
Thu Feb 14 17:40:43 EST 2008


Just a really quick thing about a financially strong organization --
that's what I've been working to make the SIG into. A new
organization puts finances in competition with the SIG at this point
where we are just now an independent non-profit that's has raised
over $30k in funding in a VERY short period of time (ie, months) and
is now open to getting much more in funding. It's not millions at
this point but it's the first time we've seen any money in the SIG.
Perhaps I haven't been as clear as I could have been -- we're now
starting to see money coming in that CAN support projects like this
AND pay people. Why splinter the group right now into two separate
groups when we've finally JUST evolved into a more independent group?

Also, we really only have two CEO/COOs attention right now so I think
we may be jumping the gun a bit here. :) And at this point it's end
user reports and reactions that is the ONLY thing that is getting
them into the accessibility group. So I guess I see the support of
those in positions of power for something that is pro-active as a
"not-quote-ready-for-prime-time" idea. I mean, yeah, we see that it
makes sense for companies to go this route but then every time we
present the idea of doing things BEFORE it becomes a "panic reaction"
(like in the WoW case) we hear "yeah, but that's going to cost
money..." The complaints and talk of REAL lawsuits from individual
players (not the SIG) is what's making people start to jump.

The UML issue is a whole other thing -- so far the big three console
companies don't even have anything that's universal and I don't yet
see them giving on that (if ever).

I'm not saying that a consortium/group/whatever is a totally bad idea
-- not at all. It's just a question of -- is this really the right
time to go down that route independent from the SIG when we've just
started getting *some* financial support and *some* interest from
higher ups. We still don't have companies knocking down our door but
we are now a group that is much more independent than it's ever been.
I guess I'm thinking that we may shoot ourselves in the foot by
spinning off something else. And I also am not sure how a new group
would have a whole bunch of money from the start?

At the end of the day -- we're still a group that's about 10 people
strong, with only about 4-5 people at the best of times active at any
one time. So we have to keep that reality in mind. I guess I'm not
quite sure where the bandwidth is going to come from?

Just some thoughts...

Michelle


>Hello again,

>

>just adding a couple of things:

>

>On 14 feb 2008, at 09.36, Thomas Westin wrote:

>

>>With games we are not just dealing with access standards...we also

>>need to ensure that what is accessible is also "fun."

>Just to make clear what I meant so you don't get me wrong: I'm

>certain you didn't mean that the game industry are unaware of the

>fun factor, but rather that implementing accessibility takes greater

>care about not spoiling the content of the game, i.e making it too

>easy etc. However, that's just part of the challenge, and why we

>need a financially strong organisation too, which the SIG is not.

>

>>We're also talking about vastly different architecture that

>>companies adopt -- there is no "common language" that all games use

>>(unlike HTML, etc)

>Yes I agree, but my efforts with the GAIM is addressing exactly this

>problem through UML. UML is a common denominator where you can

>design and code visually and then generate solutions for different

>languages and architectures. I know, it takes a _lot_ of work to

>make this work completely automagically, cross-platforms etc,

>perhaps it never will, but I think it can help a lot in this process.

>

>/Thomas

>

>

>On 14 feb 2008, at 09.36, Thomas Westin wrote:

>

>>Hi,

>>

>>yes the rich and famous comment was just me dreaming :)

>>

>>But I don't quite follow about the rest. I'm certain Blizzard and

>>others are well aware of the importance of fun? And having a

>>consortium is not stopping us from involving end-users. When I made

>>the comparison with W3C I didn't intend us to copy their

>>organisation, just referred to it as a concept for industry

>>collaboration.

>>

>>Regarding accessibility and film theatres: I agree but games are of

>>course different; you have "serious games" but not "serious film

>>theatres", or maybe I have missed something :) - the term "serious"

>>is a problem of it's own though but we have to live with it now :)

>>- as we have discussed many times, non-entertainment applications

>>of games demands accessibility

>>

>>It's great that CEOs listen to the end-users this way and respond,

>>but still it's better if it is done pro-actively, so the end users

>>don't have to tell them, I think we all can agree on that.

>>

>>-So why not take the chance now that we have the attention from

>>CEOs and COOs to discuss a _proactive_ way to make games as

>>accessible as possible, through industry collaboration? Call it

>>something different than a consortium if you like, but a

>>bi-lateral, formal organization that can put some efforts and

>>dollars into game access is a good thing in my mind.

>>

>>And further, it is not an option between the SIG and a consortium,

>>I think both are needed. And as the consortium members need

>>expertise to develop accessibility in their games, yes the rich and

>>famous, or at least getting paid a little for all our work, could

>>become more than a dream.

>>

>>/Thomas

>>

>>

>>

>>On 13 feb 2008, at 17.09, d. michelle hinn wrote:

>>

>>>Hi,

>>>

>>>I tend to agree with Jonathan on this one -- that going the W3C

>>>route is one that might not work well with regard to gaming. With

>>>games we are not just dealing with access standards...we also need

>>>to ensure that what is accessible is also "fun." We're also

>>>talking about vastly different architecture that companies adopt

>>>-- there is no "common language" that all games use (unlike HTML,

>>>etc). As Jonathan said -- now we have the consumer voice that we

>>>are just starting to get heard by industry. We don't want to lose

>>>this voice by taking a radical shift toward moving to a consortium

>>>that might be too much of a square peg in a round hole when it

>>>comes to talking about entertainment applications. With regard to

>>>the film industry (yeah, this example again) there is STILL no

>>>agreement as to what MUST be done in movie theatres and we still

>>>have the bulk of theatres not complying with what the US has said

>>>DOES fall under the Americans with Disabilities act after 7 years

>>>of the decision that captioning of sort must happen in theatres as

>>>requested.

>>>

>>>Also...I really can't see moving toward a consortium resulting in

>>>the fame and money in this industry -- has this come true for

>>>anyone in the web industry? I can think of one or two people who

>>>have benefited fame-wise but I have no idea of their net worth. A

>>>few people on my campus are on different W3C WGs and are probably

>>>some of the lowest earning academics at the university. Maybe

>>>that's different in parts of Europe -- I just know it's a "don't

>>>quit your day job" thing in the US. ;)

>>>

>>>We're in a bit of a lucky spot at the moment where it's the

>>>STORIES of the users that are affecting the CEO's, etc in paying

>>>attention to us -- moving to a consortium seems like a move that

>>>is one mired in policy and moves us away from being a group that

>>>recognizes that each company has their own creative values. I

>>>don't know -- just some morning thoughts about starting up a

>>>consortium.

>>>

>>>Michelle

>>>

>>>>Thomas,

>>>>

>>>>there's a significant cost in taking the W3C route, end-user involvement.

>>>>

>>>>Corporates have their own agendas, which if they hold in common,

>>>>it can be very time consuming to change*.

>>>>whereas at the moment end-users can directly input to SIG, this

>>>>becomes increasingly difficult and unlikely as corporates and

>>>>academics take control. at least that is my experience over the

>>>>past decade contributing to various W3C WGs.

>>>>

>>>>It is true that Ian Jacobs has suggested that including users in

>>>>the W3C process** has been discuss, and is under consideration by

>>>>the management group. However no timeline has been set for

>>>>implementation.

>>>>

>>>>Open Source also has this deficiency, software is produced by

>>>>'users' but not the public.

>>>>consumers have a small amount of control, but people with low

>>>>literacy are likely to have little disposable income.

>>>>A response from Bruce Perens is awaited ~:"

>>>>

>>>>regards

>>>>

>>>>Jonathan Chetwynd

>>>>Accessibility Consultant on Media Literacy and the Internet

>>>>

>>>>*the formal objection to WCAG2 produced some good publicity, but

>>>>very little advance in understanding, in the main limited to a

>>>>qualification regarding the needs of people with learning

>>>>disabilities.

>>>>

>>>>**A talk to CETIS "Putting the User at the Heart of the W3C

>>>>Process" with audio and transcript:

>>>>http://wiki.cetis.ac.uk/Putting_the_User_at_the_Heart_of_the_W3C_Process.

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>>>

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>>

>

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