[games_access] GDC 2008 Debrief

d. michelle hinn hinn at uiuc.edu
Tue Feb 26 21:44:11 EST 2008

I'm also in touch with their CEO & COO -- They want to personally
send emails to people who have been treated badly, gotten kicked off
of WoW, etc. So if anyone knows of anyone personally who has been
kicked for using macros in order to use accessible controllers and/or
got no response from Blizzard, please let me know. The more people we
have to lend their voices to this issue, the better! Obviously there
is social responsibility but they want as many stories as possible so
that they can see the range of problems that people are experiencing
as well as any negative response (which is UNcool in Blizzard's
opinion) they have received from customer service.

So the sooner we can get this info, the better so that the CEO and
COO can follow through with what they have offered in order to start
fixing things. I just spoke with the COO again this morning and in
his words "he is deeply ashamed that anyone from their team may have
treated any gamer -- with or without a disability -- badly."

With regard to numbers, it is NOT ok in Blizzard's opinion that
anyone has been treated rudely by any member of their team but at the
same time they'd like to know how many people have been denied access
and how. They don't need exact numbers but they do want to know a bit
more about how many people were WoW players before this all hit the
fan. They believe us -- but they just want more information so that
they can come up with a solution that keeps out cheaters but also
allows disabled gamers to play.




>I have a email into Blizzard, but I have not recived anything back

>from them. We will see. I will keep you all posted.





>Reid Kimball wrote:

>>The Poster Session (think science fair) I gave on Dynamic Closed

>>Captioning was really well received. I had at least 10 people show up,

>>which I'm happy with because the poster sessions are in a big open

>>area next to other presenters. There's competition for attention

>>between the other presenters and the fact that hundreds of people are

>>passing by in the open area.


>>After the presentation I talked with several leads, executives and

>>managers, one being from Sony who described an interesting barrier

>>they are trying to overcome. They want players of different languages

>>to be able to talk to each other. It's not our niche, but it was

>>interesting to learn about. I got great feedback on how I crafted the

>>message which was more about social responsibility rather than

>>financial. Using actual testimonials I've gotten from my emails

>>helped. One person asked what the numbers are and we got the idea to

>>ask Valve Software how many people use closed captioning in their



>>We should encourage developers to keep track of how many people use

>>the accessibility features they implement. We don't have any stats so

>>it'd be helpful to have them do that.


>>I've contacted Valve Software but no response yet. I'll ping them

>>again next week.


>>Yeah, we should all be proud of what we accomplished at GDC 2008. It

>>was great seeing Michelle, Eitan and Eelke again and of course awesome

>>to meet Stephanie and Mark.


>>PS: Anything happen with Blizzard meeting? Did anyone meet with other

>>game dev companies?




>>On Tue, Feb 26, 2008 at 5:29 PM, d. michelle hinn <hinn at uiuc.edu> wrote:


>>>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





>>>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!









>>>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!







>>> games_access mailing list

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