[games_access] GDC 2008 Debrief

Matthias Troup foreversublime at hotmail.com
Wed Mar 5 16:04:31 EST 2008

Thomas and everyone interested in next year's GDC,

GDC San Francisco will be hoted during "...the more civilized dates of March 23-27, 2009"

I liked the early timing of GDC 2008. Coupled with the federal holiday I only had to take off 4 days scheduled vacation from work instead of 5.


From: thomas at pininteractive.comTo: games_access at igda.orgDate: Wed, 5 Mar 2008 11:32:39 +0100CC: goran at pininteractive.comSubject: Re: [games_access] GDC 2008 DebriefHi,

hehe blocking all exits until the task is done, sounds like a game scenario. Just add a high score list on the wall.

I like the concept of mobile viral, social marketing :) Next year we can expand that with having people compete about getting as many as possible to our sessions, and compete about a prize (some nice access stuff)

Glad to hear the DVDs worked out fine; a big thanks to Reid for making that a success.

I hope I can attend next year, but I'm planning a vacation next spring with my kids. Is next year's GDC already planned with dates?

Other avenues: Göran and I is working on setting up an access arcade at Dreamhack by the end of November - the world's largest LAN party with over 10.000 gamers playing 24-7 for three days. It's held in Sweden two times each year (Winter and Summer). It's a great way to reach out to all the gamers with the IGDA and the SIG.
If we can get some more people from the SIG to attend it would be great. If not, at Dreamhack they have very good fiber connection so having an online presentation via video could also be worth a try. That way we also save the environment a bit to not travel by air across the world.
Have a look at http://web.dreamhack.se/index.php?language=en

Something for IGDA and Tom B. defending game companies:
I was at Dreamhack last year representing the university, and it's amazing to see how 10.000 kids get along with no fighting or drinking (except Coca Cola and in-game frags). That is something people complaining about violent games should see.

Also, Göran would like to be on the list of Committees. He would like to add a Committee if possible, or just be listed as a member. The added committee would be Digital Culture Committee - which would focus on accessibility in a cultural perspective. Göran can explain the theory in detail much better than me so I leave that to him.


On 28 feb 2008, at 12.14, d. michelle hinn wrote:

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! :)


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!


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!


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!


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