[games_access] GDC 2008 Debrief

d. michelle hinn hinn at uiuc.edu
Thu Feb 28 06:14:09 EST 2008


Thanks Thomas! I wish that you had been able to come this year --
although you were with us in spirit, especially with all your help
with the DVD -- thanks again for all that! It was so exciting and we
had people asking us for more info at receptions, introducing us to
people they'd told about all the cool stuff we showed. I think we've
finally landed on the right type of session for us -- get a couple
corporate sponsors doing some "out there" cool stuff that people are
dying to see that is also accessible and then block all the exits so
they experience the rest of our stuff. :D

But seriously, letting people walk around, seeing them call their
friends to get to the room too is really a low key but very good way
for us to present "game accessibility." It's literally a page pulled
from the constructivist learning texts -- learning by doing. By
experiencing the different controllers, game mods, etc things sink in
much more than just hearing us talk about it. This seems to be our
best way of getting out our message at this particular conference.

Personally it was great being able to see all the attendees make the
rounds to the different stations and see them talking to Reid, Eelke,
Eitan, Mark, Stephanie and me about all of our projects and build the
excitement about game accessibility! Everyone seemed so engaged in
what we had going on.

GDC is definitely not the only show we should aim for -- and there
are more and more GDCs all over the globe now. Sure, there will
always be the mother ship GDC (San Fran) but it's nice to see smaller
versions to give GDC back it's nice closeknit feel. But as John
announced the ALERT system aimed at educators, I immediately thought
about education conferences that would really benefit from learning
about this incredible (and free!) resource to help their students. So
let's keep thinking about other avenues too!

I admit -- I was nervous as could be about this year but we did it!
We finally figured out what the best way to reach out the the GDC
audience is. Took us a few years...but I really get the feeling that
the industry -- especially those in the crashing US economy -- is
getting very appreciative of hearing about anything that can bring
them a larger audience. The iron is hot...time to strike! :)

Michelle


>Fantastic news,

>

>I take back my previous doubts about reaching out at GDC.

>

>Very nice to hear you guys got through all the noise, well done!

>

>/Thomas

>

>

>

>On 27 feb 2008, at 02.29, d. michelle hinn 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 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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