[games_access] Big Win for Disabled Games looking to play AION

hinn at illinois.edu hinn at illinois.edu
Fri Sep 18 22:34:04 EDT 2009

Most of the statements were not from designers but were from non-disabled gamers. The thing is is that there's a lot behind the scenes that went behind this and the work with Blizzard.

First, the companies were given a copy of the article before it went live after months of Mark trying to reach out to both GameGuard and NCSoft. When the article went live both GameGuard and NCSoft contacted Mark (GameGuard called him from Korea at 2am -- time zone diffs!). NCSoft went so far as to say that while they did not like the fact that the article was out there because they never like bad publicity, that everything in there was true. Now they are working with Mark to make changes so that it doesn't close out the disabled gamer market rather than going forward with something that would definitely close it out. NCSoft even sent 5 copies of the game to give away on the AbleGamers website.

Second, as to Blizzard...that was 18 months of trying to reach out to them Mark had, I think, 2-3 shirts made and there was not a GDC protest (I'm not even sure they were worn) -- it was the result of frustration of not getting anywhere after a year and a half of trying to reach out with absolutely no results. Now? AbleGamers has a really good relationship with Blizzard, changes have been made, etc.

While I was not involved in either of these examples, I have to admire the fact that by protesting, it has resulted in change...but also partnerships. Other companies outside of this have reached out to AbleGamers resulting in real change.

AbleGamers is not the IGDA SIG. So the "we" is the accessibility movement -- I'm assuming you meant the same thing? AbleGamers is also not a group of game development professionals -- it is a group comprising of the voice of the disabled gamer community. So if Mark gets a complaint from a group of gamers with disabilities about a major issue in a game, he acts on it. It's his right to do so -- the SIG does not "own" AbleGamers.

I'm not sure what the "right" way to do things but I have been impressed at how much Mark has been able to do that HAS resulted in long term relationships. I know we have all argued over the years about how to get the attention of the AAA gaming industry but the truth is, we have not been very effective even when we were at our strongest as a group. On the other hand, Mark has been. And it's not just with these two examples...it's been with many companies, many more than just these two companies where a strong cry of protest has been used.

Full disclosure: While I have not been involved in any of these articles, I have been working as part of AbleGamers on other projects. Every IGDA SIG is comprised of members that work for many other companies so that only enriches a SIG, IMHO. It results in arguments and disagreements but at the end of the day, it's a way for people with the same interests to get together and share ideas. You have a right to state your opinion, as does everyone else in the SIG. But what Mark has been doing does not represent the SIG -- it represents AbleGamers and the accessibility movement on a whole.


---- Original message ----

>Date: Fri, 18 Sep 2009 17:30:38 -0700

>From: Reid Kimball <rkimball at gmail.com>

>Subject: Re: [games_access] Big Win for Disabled Games looking to play AION

>To: IGDA Games Accessibility SIG Mailing List <games_access at igda.org>


>I'm conflicted because I'm glad this is a victory for disabled gamers

>but I'm also with the crowd that didn't like the tone of the article,

>making statements that couldn't be backed up factually that GameGuard

>discriminates against the disabled and NCSoft is supportive of that



>I believe you tried talking to them politely but I don't know if that

>gives you any right to resort to rather caustic tactics that make them

>look worse than they already do.


>I'm more sensitive to this because I am a game developer, caught

>between both worlds so I see both sides. I don't like the idea that

>Mark and others are "learning" what works and may mean more tactics

>like those "Blizzard doesn't like disabled gamers" t-shirts at GDC. It

>may work now, may work next time, but I don't think we'll be making

>any friends and partnerships based on mutual respect. This isn't a

>recipe for long term success imo.


>Reid Kimball

>Game Designer / Writer



>On Fri, Sep 18, 2009 at 4:41 PM, <hinn at illinois.edu> wrote:

>> Mark,


>> This is great! I know that you'd been fighting it only to get ABSOLUTELY no response (wow, does that sound familiar everyone??) from the company and to learn that they are going to hold off on this until they can do this right and in a way that does not exclude gamers with disabilities is a HUGE step in accessibility.


>> Sounds like companies are really starting to listen, especially now that we (the movement for accessibility) have a community/media outlet in AbleGamers.


>> It may take articles like this to get the attention of companies -- we're learning that more and more. To his absolute credit, Mark had been after them "the polite way" for a long time by asking to speak with people to try and get them to hear out the community. It's nice to know that there's a way to get past PR to get to people at the top of a company's hierarchy.


>> When the story came out, there were a lot of "hey, why don't you try talking to them?" from other gamers without disabilities. Well, the trouble is that we (again, as in the accessibility movement) get blocked at PR.


>> Way to go Mark and Steve (the writer of the story) for helping get this news out in a way that presented the facts AND made change happen BEFORE it hit at least one major market!!


>> This is exciting stuff!


>> Michelle

>> Chair, IGDA Game Accessibility SIG

>> VP, AbleGamers (note: I was not involved in this story at all)


>> ---- Original message ----

>>>Date: Fri, 18 Sep 2009 10:43:29 -0400

>>>From: Mark Barlet <mark at ablegamers.com>

>>>Subject: [games_access] Big Win for Disabled Games looking to play AION

>>>To: IGDA Games Accessibility SIG Mailing List <games_access at igda.org>


>>>Hey all,


>>> On Monday AbleGamers published a story related to the anti-botting

>>>software "GameGuard" and we highlighted the fact that AION, a highly

>>>anticipated upcoming MMO had this software all over it. On there (now

>>>closed) beta forums there were a few posts from disabled gamers who

>>>expressed issue with the software disabling their adaptive



>>>You can read our story here



>>>Well late in the evening yesterday the NCSoft NA people announced that

>>>they were going to release the game in the US without GameGuard. They

>>>said, "After analyzing our open beta test results Aion will not

>>>feature GameGuard at launch. We will however continue to pursue ways

>>>to effectively utilize GameGuard within Aion in the future. Right now

>>>we're focused on providing players with the best possible Aion



>>>While we know that there were debates going on in the halls of NCSoft

>>>for a few weeks now about this issue, I am sure that the press that

>>>this story made was a tipping point in making the decision not to move

>>>forward with GameGuard.


>>>To those that work for NCSoft on the list, THANK YOU.



>>>Mark C. Barlet




>games_access mailing list

>games_access at igda.org


these are mediocre times and people are
losing hope. it's hard for many people
to believe that there are extraordinary
things inside themselves, as well as
others. i hope you can keep an open
-- "unbreakable"

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