[games_access] Blizzard, WoW, and Accessibility Concerns

Thomas Westin thomas at pininteractive.com
Thu Feb 14 18:12:31 EST 2008

Hello Michelle

you know you have my deepest respect for all the work you put into
the SIG and I think it's great what you and Ben has done on the
financial side

I don't want to splinter the group - rather I would see the consortium
thing as an extension to the SIG, a strong partner from which both the
SIG members and the companies can win

Yes I also realise it's a long road before we can get a consortium
become real, but talking to those executives we have contact with is a
good way to plant some seeds for this. I'm not saying we should focus
on this now as a SIG but I'm trying to live up to my part of the
Industry committee, I have so far done efforts with Adobe with the
article I mentioned. Don't worry, although I may sound enthusiastic
I'm also careful about bandwidth as you put it; we must push forward
slowly - hey it's been five years soon and we're still around
pushing :) but setting the goal high helps reaching the moon.

The UML thing (GAIM) is in itself independent of the final
implementation; i.e it's not necessary (for me, at this point) to get
the console companies to have final implementation code; rather they
can choose to use the GAIM (when it's released in a first, public
version) to generate code which they can and must adapt to their
specific platforms - unless of course we get direct access to their
development platform and can code it ourselves - which is hard without
big money or deep, established contacts with the companies involved -
which would also be a benefit from a consortium

Anyhow, I'll stop my dreaming now and get back to work... or sleep

Sweet dreams :)


On 14 feb 2008, at 23.40, d. michelle hinn wrote:

> 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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