[games_access] GDC 2008 Debrief

d. michelle hinn hinn at uiuc.edu
Tue Feb 26 20:29:12 EST 2008


Hi All,

I don't have a lot of energy at the moment but I wanted to let
everyone know how well things went at this year's GDC! We/I
definitely missed having the whole gang around this year (or as much
of the gang as we have had before) but it's definitely not the only
conference and, in fact, some of the new smaller GDCs are definitely
worth looking into -- they have them all of the world right now! So
we might start sponsoring some SIG members to go to conferences that
are just a train ride away (ie, the european conferences). More on
that later when I figure out when the next batch of deadlines are!

So our big session was Accessibility Arcade: Or How to Do the Jedi
Mind Trick, which was repeated twice unlike the 3 times from last
year. So some overall comments:

A/V Stuff: Of course the annual "where are the TVs?" "will they be
arriving -- during or after our session" kinds of things came up but
thanks to the conference associates that got worked out relatively
quickly and I didn't have to run all over the expo looking for the
GES (A/V) contractors. The funny thing was this year they set them up
in the room next door so it wasn't a big deal once they knew where to
move them to -- and it wasn't very far to move them! But honestly?
That was the worst thing that happened and it was resolved in time
for our session -- sure I did have a few moments of panic remembering
last year but with everything getting solved and everyone just going
ahead and setting up their stations and not waiting for the TVs
before starting helped a lot. So that's not much of a "worst part,"
eh? :D Yay!

Attendees: This blew me away...and I'm know it blew away Eelke and
Reid too who have seen way too many empty rooms we've presented to.
It's always hard to gauge exact numbers with a session like "arcade"
that allows people to come in late, wander in and out, etc. But
basically...we went from having an average of 2 attendees...to about
60-70 (The CAs gave me a better count since they were watching the
traffic moving in and out) for the 4pm Wednesday session and about 30
for the 9am Thursday session (not bad for early morning!!). And they
weren't just our usual fans (yes, the cool people from "games for
grandma and grandpa" were there -- cool as ever and always welcome!).
We had people from Sony, Microsoft (and not one of my friends -- a
producer of a new racing game who could use Barrie's help actually!),
EA, and much more. Yes...the big leagues! And yes, I cried after the
first session -- I couldn't believe that the months put into this,
negotiating with Natural Point and Emotive and all the individually
sent press releases helped get people in the room. It was just a half
a year worth of stuff and to see people there who were interested and
involved...wow...you really can't ask for much more!

Presenters:

Emotiv and Natural Point kept their deal and brought their stuff
(although I was a wee bit scared when they said they'd show up five
minutes ahead of the session -- and after all I went through getting
them single session passes -- yes, I invoked my crying spell on
them...it wasn't hard given that I was in a pain cycle and felt like
collapsing. But I had my game face on! :) And having them come to the
session? Golden. So that gamble I made to ask them to join us paid
off -- it got people in the room to see and do the "jedi mind trick"
and then they stayed to check out the SIG stuff. So next year? We do
an all out sponsored session. Thanks to our numbers -- and the
percentage increase over last year -- we're going to look like "wow,
ok! they figured out how to make this accessibility thing work!" So I
imagine that there will be no argument about our getting another
session like this for next year and maybe even make it a little
slicker.

Mark and Stephanie from AbleGamers rocked -- they helped pass out
tons of our session fliers (they were combing the expo and helped me
out a ton because I could hardly move and this undoubtedly helped
with getting even more people in the room) and brought their
enthusiasm and passion for helping the disabled gamer community!
Without them I don't think I would have survived the show this year
-- all three of us have our own disabilities and I think we did a
pretty good job helping each other stay alive! :)

Reid and Eelke -- Amazing as usual. Reid found a SUPER place to print
and burn the DVDs and they looked great and so professional! And
Eelke's new Blind Hero is something to behold. That haptic glove --
awesome! Reid's poster looked awesome -- I'll let him talk about his
poster session in another email! And thanks again, Eelke for bringing
all your equipment!

Eitan -- again, always steals the spotlight with his wiimote music
game -- I'm so glad you could join us!

Barrie, Dimitris -- you were with us in spirit as we showed "Game
Over" and all of the cool controllers -- and we passed out your cards
and the leftover FuturePlay fliers! :)

All -- Wow, all I can say is that this SIG really rocks -- we finally
did it! We had a great show at GDC and with funding that we are
getting sorted out...I'm on cloud 9. What a great achievement for all
of us! This IS going to be our year! We have tons of developers
asking us where they should start with accessibility (ie, which
groups are asking for what in which game? Sure, the numbers and
financial stuff will always be there but what a great feeling that
now we are in a position to start talking directly to CEOs to help
them make their first steps toward adding in even just ONE
accessibility feature in future games.

So, hey, let's pat ourselves on the backs for a show well done --
sure we could have all felt a little better but that's how it goes
sometimes. It was nice to know that we all had each other's backs and
the passion for game accessibility was showing through and through!

Well done, everyone -- and everyone includes everyone who added to
the DVD, helped with fliers, presenters, and just all of you who gave
us good thoughts all week! :)

Ok...need to rest a little now. But I had to give the post mort to
the SIG. I'm working on a posting about how much better this GDC was
for game accessibility to be published on ablegamers too. It was a
long year between this year's GDC and last year's but we've learned a
lot and we keep fighting the good fight!

Michelle
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