[games_access] Universal game design

Ian Hamilton i_h at hotmail.com
Fri Oct 21 10:39:18 EDT 2011

Dimitris - while the paper's good it's something simpler in layman's terms that I'm after, the initial summary page on your site is perfect but the full academic paper is too much for casual readers to take in.. this is going to be read by people outside of both the industry and academia.
Barrie - yep I agree, it's impossible to have a completely universally accessible game without it ceasing to come under the definition of a game (ie. can't be called a game unless it has a challenge, and any challenge excludes some players), unless you're providing roughly equivalent experiences but with different mechanics and different challenges, in which case really it's multiple games anyway.
But if you design using Dimitris' basic principles (open up as many of the game mechanics as possible, in order to provide a palette of gameplay elements for people to configure an experience that works best for them) then you'll end up with something of wider use than only trying to cater for (or especially retrofit) adaptations for specific types of disability. It is relatively easy to do as well because the variables already exist, it's just a question of exposing them. Ie. somewhere in the code you'll have set what the controls are, what speed enemies move at, what colour the map markers are, what level the AI is at and so on, so associate a few sliders and buttons with them to let people choose what's best for their own unique combination of needs. The only question really is how much you can expose before it gets unwieldy.
That was the idea with our latest games and it has worked really nicely, hence being asked for links to explain the principle.
Tim/Dimitris - bugger, so it's actually 'universally accessible game design' that I should be talking about, not 'universal game design'. As far as I'm aware there isn't any consistent definition of universal game design though, I've even seen it used to refer to coming up with a single all encompassing game mechanic that includes all genres. Considering that 'universal design' is a well used accessibility term, you don't think that 'universal game design' would be appropriate terminology? I'm a bit uncomfortable with the term 'universally accessible game' as it's not really a realistic message to be sending out.

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