[games_access] Worthwhile project?

d. michelle hinn hinn at uiuc.edu
Fri Mar 28 18:12:45 EDT 2008

Jason --

This has been something that we've ad hoc been working on for a while
now that we're (we made it past the first level of acceptance!!)
going to be putting into book form soon. Others have been doing some
web sites that address this and we're hoping to bring it all together
in the book and it's companion website (the website would address the
general issues and then point them to the book to read more so that
we meet the publishers desire to sell copies of the book all while
meeting what we want to keep open source, so to speak). The book,
we're hoping, will be the easy thing to grab off the shelf for devs
to use.

Right now there is a whole slew of lists and guides to making games
more accessible on the web and what we hope to tie together with this
project is the "how the heck do I do this in a quick, easy, and
understandable way that's not tied to philosophical differences in

So, yes, we're thinking on the same lines. The trouble is (and others
will no double chime in (I'm catching up on my day;s email) is that
accessibility is tricky and one move toward helping one group can be
2 steps back for another group. So the suggestions have to be ones
that recognize that you might be consciously leaving one group behind
if you, say, decide to really focus on blind gamers.

It's a difficult and very, very diverse group that we represent with
often changing needs as injuries get better/worse, disabilities
become more/less noticeable depending on technological "advances." We
certainly have our work cut out for us!


>Would it be worthwhile to try an develop an "accessibility bible"

>which could then be given to game development houses making concrete

>suggestions for ways they can improve accessibility in games?


>I suspect a lot of developers don't really have the time to think

>about ways to make games accessible but if you put a laundry list of

>suggestions in their hands they'd at least consider some of them. I

>give an example below of a hypothetical accessibility bible entry on

>difficulty levels.






>A difficulty selection is a common feature of games. Usually from

>three to five generic levels of difficulty can be chosen by the

>player. The difference in game play from easiest to hardest may be a

>function of the speed of game play, number of enemies, number of

>lives, difficulty of tasks, et cetera.


>Options to best increase accessibility

>The least desirable solution is to have a single difficulty level.

>This means the game will only be suitable to a narrow range of

>players. The more difficulty levels that are available, assuming

>there is a meaningful difference between levels, the wider range of

>people can enjoy playing.


>The best possible solution is to deconvolute "difficulty" into the

>component parts, and to make each selectable. For instance in a First

>Person Shooter you might have difficulty control the number of enemies

>and their accuracy. What would be better is to have two controls, one

>for the number of enemies and another for their accuracy. This not

>only allows people to better tune the game to their abilities but

>gives the game grater replay values as people explore how the game is

>different with few accurate enemies vs. hordes of inaccurate foes.

>Deconvoluting difficulty into component parts can also make testing

>easier and quicker because you have isolated variables instead of

>trying to test several changing variables at the same time and

>approximate what mix of each is "easy", "moderate", and "hard."




>-It's just something I wrote just now off the top of my head to give

>you an idea, I'm sure we could do a much more thorough job. What'cha





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