[games_access] Game accessibility survey journal article

Michelle Hinn hinn at uiuc.edu
Tue Jul 6 04:04:55 EDT 2010


Great discussion!

Regarding stats, I think the point Eelke is trying to stress is what Eleanor also mentioned on the list earlier is that we have statistics on disability (even though they are complex and hard to separate from one another when talking about complex issues like cognitive disabilities and multiple disabilities) but the question that has been asked for so long by the industry is how many WOULD be gamers...and that's the hardest part to make a good estimate of regardless of how complex a statistical breakdown you do. :( I wish it were easier...but it's what the industry keeps pushing back on. It becomes what is beyond the "right thing to do" as we know and what's the "proven" percentage of those who would purchase what is necessary to be gamers (as if we can predict with a large enough degree of confidence that takes game type preference in mind as well) and without that, it's a continued excuse for many companies to continue doing nothing at all. Sigh...

I also have a chapter in a book with the 2008 stats (the chapter was published in March 2009) that state similar stats but again the question is only disability rather than a survey on the percentage of those who want to game versus the percentages of disability breakdown. Perhaps this percentage will be higher than those without disabilities. But we don't know that beyond what I think we most of us are passionately convinced will be the case. And then the question of game preference comes up...and accessibility does not equal desire to play. So we struggle on with this one! I agree, with you Steve, that multiple solutioned approaches are badly needed -- one solution does not fit all...with the bigger question of whether one solution fits very many people overall!

Because of the enormity of the category of cognitive disabilities, I am not of the same opinion that strategy and RPGs are the most accessible game category for many who have disabilities in this area, like myself. One question that I think that deserves discussion -- and I'm not suggesting a "right or wrong" here, just a point of discussion -- is, again, access versus preference. I know that I have a few cognitive disabilities using multiple definitions of what constitutes a cognitive disability but do I enjoy games in the genres that may be "most" accessible (and by what definition)? No, not at all especially if we stick to a definition of that gaming category that does not necessarily include sports and music simulations. WOW and similar games hold very little interest to me.

This is not to say AT ALL that my preference is the same as others with cognitive disabilities. But that's just it...preference.

And due to the tradition of AbleGamers as a community, many who enjoy MMOS gravitate to the site. And that is absolutely needed. But it is only one slice of a picture that we all are trying to map out with any type of impairment. And AbleGamers has certainly widened it's initial scope but there are still many who look to the site as something vital to the types of games that they prefer -- MMOs. There are definitely more than a few thousand motion impaired individuals but is the reason that so many of this slice of those with mobility impairments play MMOs if they choose to game because they enjoy them most of all, because those that frequent and benefit from AbleGamers the most are more interested in these games, or because they are statistically the largest game genre that game players with mobility impairments play? Or is the answer somewhere between all these or even just a part of these things in addition to other reasons?

Re: the mouth controller, it is still quite used even if it may not necessarily be the most ideal for even those who use them -- but once you've invested in this type of AT, how much more can many spend? I agree that it is far from the only way to play but it's a way to play that some still use. But I defer to you and your expertise on that and don't assume at all that I have the more full individual and well thought out experience that you have.

**note this is not a comment about you but just a comment I have overall ** One thing that I don't like to see is that when those do use one solution over another that it is a form of "giving up." I understand the sentiment with regard to everyone's individual goals and preferences on how they wish to live their lives including the technologies that they use. But I do get sad when I read that to use one solution versus another is somehow incorrect. I am not saying that you have said this or mean this -- but it is just something that I have noticed in the disabled community in a multitude of areas within and outside of gaming. I may be not be understanding every issue but it reminds me of those within the hearing impaired community that get offended by those who choose to have a cochlear implant versus those who do not -- is there really a "right" answer as long as the individual is comfortable by what they decide on?

I do completely understand your frustration with the nature of research surveys -- but that is also my frustration with the entire field of game accessibility. Lumping "cognitive" impairments together is an example of this and yet it is done all the time by research and advocacy groups. This is something we are all guilty of so we must be aware of when we do it ourselves (and I've done it too so I am not free from this either!). It's easier to lump than to wrestle with smaller categories...certainly "soundbytes" in the media do not lend themselves well to things like "but really these categories are much too large and we cannot make any recommendations because it's all too complex."

Thanks to Eelke for posting his student's paper and to all who have participated in the feedback loop so far! These are the things that we all wrestle with and if we don't...who will? So discuss on! :)

Michelle

On Jul 5, 2010, at 6:05 PM, Steve Spohn wrote:


> Indeed a good paper. Here are my thoughts on some issues.

>

> 2.5 Game accessibility statistics

> ‘‘How many people cannot play video games because of a

> disability?’’ is a key question to investigate because, to the

> authors’ knowledge, such data has not been determined

>

> Actually 7-128 software and the AbleGamers foundation put out a white paper on those statistics which can be found at http://www.aging.ablegamers.org

>

> 3.1 Switches

>

> The motor impaired gaming area is something I've largely dealt with, mainly because I'm a motor impaired gamers who counsels other motor impaired gamers on how to play.

>

> The mouth controller shown here is largely outdated and a relic in some respects. Someone who has ability left to use a device like this is not limited to single inputs at one time. Something like broadened horizons versatility would be wonderful. Those who specifically need one-switch games that utilize the large red button type of switches would be critically disabled but for the most part, one can adapt many of the switches Barrie has listed in combination to become a gaming rig of sorts.

>

> Which leads into...

>

> 4.3 Directions for research

> Game genres: As discussed in Sect. 3, severe motor and

> visually impaired players can only play games within a

> limited number of game genres. Popular game genres [20]

> such as strategy, sports and role playing games are not yet

> available to those groups. Unlike hearing impaired players,

> severe motor impaired and visually impaired players typically

> face critical barriers preventing them from playing the

> game.

>

> For a large number of motion impaired gamers strategy and role playing games are the number one most accessible genre available today. Strategy games often have pause features that assist not only motion impaired but the cognitively disabled as well. Strategy games are largely accessible especially in the casual category such as risk.

>

> As for role-playing games, World of Warcraft is one of the most played by disabled motion impaired gamers title I've seen yet. Ablegamers is a community of well over 1000 gamers who are primarily comprised of motion impaired gamers and have often discussed what they play in no relation to us or anything that we recommend. Most every single motion impaired plays role-playing games because they are easy and accessible by their nature.

>

> RPGs like Sid Meier's civilization are turn-based and allow as much time as you need between taking turns. Games like WoW or EQ can be played with an input device that only allows two buttons and a directional mover such as eye or headmice.

>

> As Eleanor mentioned earlier, it would be more interesting to see statistics on multiple accessible technology being used in conjunction. As a large part of what our organization does is figure out combinations of accessible technologies that allow for the most input multiple no matter how severe your disability.

>

> 4.3 (Cont.) However, one popular game genre, FPS, has many

> accessible games for almost every type of impairment

>

> Although I do not disagree with the statement on the whole, the paragraph when all put together is slightly misleading. First person shooters are the first genre of games taken away from motion impaired gamers, particularly those with degenerative diseases. Even then AT can compensate for some time.

>

> First-person shooters take the absolute most dexterity, timing, and hand eye coordination among all other video game genres.

>

> However, that does not mean that with the right combination of accessible technology that first-person shooters will remain off-limits. The author suggests first-person shooters are extremely accessible due to modifications, but the truth is many disabled gamers who are far more motion impaired than I am (and I can only use a mouse) play first person shooters with no modifications whatsoever.

>

> People like Corey Krull who played video games using a Morse code device to allow multiple inputs with relatively no muscle control whatsoever.

>

> -------

>

> As a side note, I find one thing disheartening about research papers is that I have gotten to know several thousand disabled gamers in my multiple year career fighting for disability, as I'm sure many of you have. Yet, these type of papers tend to lump gamers into generalized categories that are only vaguely accurate at best.

>

> The best way to bring true awareness to the cause is to show people the lengths disabled gamers will go to to play even the most simple casual and hard-core games.

>

> Steve Spohn

> Associate Editor

> The AbleGamers Foundation

>

> www.ablegamers.com

> www.ablegamers.org

>

> Find me on Skype! Username: Steve_Spohn

>

> From: games_access-bounces at igda.org [mailto:games_access-bounces at igda.org] On Behalf Of Barrie Ellis

> Sent: Sunday, July 04, 2010 6:16 PM

> To: games_access at igda.org

> Subject: Re: [games_access] Game accessibility survey journal article

>

> Just finished reading the Game Accessibility survey. Very good! I found the bulk of it really smartly explained, with excellent diagrams and tables. Very useful. Very Nice!

>

> My 10 pence worth...

>

> p7. 3.1.1: One-handed controller typically provides only one analogue input... Apart from the Wii, the only game console one-handed controllers in recent production I'm aware of have both analogue sticks available (Access controller and "one hand controller" - http://www.oneswitch.org.uk/1/AGS/AGS-onehand.htm).

>

>

> p8. 3.1.2: OneSwitch.org.uk isn't actually non-profit, although there is tons of free stuff. Over 100 one-switch games now for free. Thank you for the mention!

>

>

> p9. 3.1.3: Frogger - all good points about this game, but might have been worth mentioning that you can move left and right, when you hop on the moving logs and turtles.

>

>

> p14 3.5: Universal design does not indicate that all impairments are supported, but rather that multiple types of impairments are supported... I always thought it did, but simply hasn't been managed yet. Doesn't seem to make sense to me otherwise.

>

>

> p16: For example, a one-switch racing game does not allow the player to brake or speed up because certain input options may have been removed to allow for one-switch

> input... Can be done. Using the 4Noah utility and Destruction Derby on a PSone emulator, at Kit 4 Kidz in Leeds earlier this year, we had tap to cycle between left-nothing-right-nothing-(and repeat) for steering, and hold for a couple of seconds then release to cycle between accelerate-nothing-reverse-nothing-(and repeat). Because Destruction Derby has helpful barriers all around the track to help keep you on course, plus a self-righting system if you get spun in the wrong way, it's quite playable for someone with really accurate one-switch skills. You could also have a game with auto-braking (e.g. F355 Challenge and Forza 3), and perhaps Mario Kart style speed ups on the track.

>

>

> p16 4.3: ...severe motor and visually impaired players can only play games within a limited number of game genres. Popular game genres [20] such as strategy, sports and role playing games are not yet available to those groups. Unlike hearing impaired players, severe motor impaired and visually impaired players typically face critical barriers preventing them from playing the game.... I guess it depends upon the degree of visually impairment, but wonder if some of these would be playable: http://www.oneswitch.org.uk/2/sd-sport.htm ?

>

> My final thoughts links to the lack of games for cognitively impaired players. I do agree that it's a complicated area, but when taking into account learning disabled users, I'm surprised only a handful of games were found:

>

> http://www.helpkidzlearn.com/games.html

> http://www.graemesfreegames.com/

> http://nanogames.com/index.htm

> http://www.inclusive.co.uk/catalogue/acatalog/switch_friendly_games.html

> http://www.priorywoods.middlesbrough.sch.uk/page_viewer.asp?page=Free+Program+Resources&pid=161

> http://www.scottmckay.com/

> http://www.marblesoft.com/products.php?group=1

> http://www.shinylearning.co.uk/

> http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbbc/games/switch/

>

> In my experience, a lot of more severely "learning disabled" people have reacted well to some one-switch games, or games that use relatively simple interfaces, such as eye-toy and basic joysticks. Some of course get on better than I do with complicated games.

>

> Cheers,

>

> Barrie.

>

>

>

>

>

>

> --------------------------------------------------

> From: "Michelle Hinn" <hinn at uiuc.edu>

> Sent: Sunday, July 04, 2010 9:02 PM

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

> Subject: Re: [games_access] Game accessibility survey journal article

>

> > I've read the article and it is very, very good! Because the permissions are owned by the journal, he cannot post it online because they (Springer) are very strict with permissions. But he can send you a copy as he said. :) Eelke didn't mention it but he's second author on it and although it goes without saying...the quality is excellent!

> >

> > Michelle

> >

> > On Jul 4, 2010, at 1:53 PM, Brannon Zahand wrote:

> >

> >> Eelke,

> >>

> >> Can I get a copy as well?

> >>

> >> Thanks,

> >> Brannon

> >>

> >> -----Original Message-----

> >> From: games_access-bounces at igda.org [mailto:games_access-bounces at igda.org] On Behalf Of Kestrell

> >> Sent: Saturday, July 03, 2010 7:15 AM

> >> To: IGDA Games Accessibility SIG Mailing List

> >> Subject: Re: [games_access] Game accessibility survey journal article

> >>

> >> Eelke,

> >>

> >> May I request an electronic copy of your student's paper on game accessibility?

> >>

> >> Thanks!

> >>

> >> Kestrell

> >>

> >>

> >> ----- Original Message -----

> >> From: "Eelke Folmer" <eelke.folmer at gmail.com>

> >> To: <games_access at igda.org>

> >> Sent: Saturday, July 03, 2010 2:13 AM

> >> Subject: [games_access] Game accessibility survey journal article

> >>

> >>

> >>> Hi,

> >>>

> >>> For those of you interested in: 1) a comprehensive overview of

> >>> academic literature on game accessibility; 2) a synthesis of

> >>> strategies used to make games for sensory, motor and cognitive

> >>> impairments; and 3) data on how many people in the US are unable or

> >>> limited in playing video games per type of impairment, a journal paper

> >>> called: "Game Accessibility: a Survey" written by my student Bei Yuan

> >>> is available online at:

> >>> http://www.springerlink.com/content/a0273kw751q71332/?p=3116a648a3a545a5b5f805933963a70f&pi=0

> >>>

> >>> Email me offline if you would like a copy of this paper and you don't

> >>> have access through a university library.

> >>>

> >>> --

> >>> Best, Eelke

> >>>

> >>> Eelke Folmer

> >>> Assistant Professor

> >>> Department of Computer Science and Engineering

> >>> University of Nevada, Reno

> >>> http://www.eelke.com

> >>> _______________________________________________

> >>> games_access mailing list

> >>> games_access at igda.org

> >>> http://seven.pairlist.net/mailman/listinfo/games_access

> >>

> >> _______________________________________________

> >> games_access mailing list

> >> games_access at igda.org

> >> http://seven.pairlist.net/mailman/listinfo/games_access

> >>

> >> _______________________________________________

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