[games_access] Blizzard, WoW, and Accessibility Concerns

d. michelle hinn hinn at uiuc.edu
Thu Feb 14 18:57:38 EST 2008


Hey Thomas,

Yeah, I agree that we should aim for a powerful project for the SIG
-- and it's my hope that all the money we are raising will help start
that project and continue/start others. I want us to start moving
toward being a group that can afford to pay stipends to those who are
putting in the work on these projects. My main concern was that you
were saying that we should splinter off now just as we were seeing
success in fund raising, attention getting within the industry -- but
I see that you weren't saying that. :) I agree -- we can and should
have dreams of where this can go!

I guess I still don't quite understand why an independent
consortium/separate group would be a more successful move and/or a
move that gets more respect in this particular industry. Why not do
all these things as part of the SIG? We're now being supported by the
ECA/ESA in addition to the IGDA so I see where we are now and where
we are moving towards as being ideal for supporting this kind of
project -- and is exactly why we're raising the money and extending
our group's partnerships. We're also going to need to form a board of
directors to help determine how money should be spent so that
companies know that they are putting funds into a group with the
proper checks and balances. So coming from a group management
perspective, having to do something like this twice -- once for the
SIG and then again for a consortium even if it's done by two
different people -- seems like something that puts all our time into
doing these kinds of "administrivia" and none of it into projects.

Anyway, I guess because I'm kind of stuck in the middle of all this
set up of legal and administrative realities with where the SIG is
moving into now and I see anything that can reduce the work of
setting up new groups as a way to save time and money and actually
make change happen. That's mainly what I was responding from -- it's
a nasty pain to deal with an international group where laws of
non-profits differ in every country...why not make that work go as
far as possible so that people leading the projects and the industry
can benefit from that work already being done?

So that's all I meant -- I see all the drudge work of that comes with
being financially independent as a group and I want to make sure all
that drudge work results in successful projects that we support. :)

Michelle


>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 :)

>

>/Thomas

>

>

>

>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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>>>>>

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>>>>

>>>

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