[games_access] What is this SIG?

Thomas Westin thomasw at dsv.su.se
Sat Jul 7 18:25:51 EDT 2012

Hi Sandra,

I guess Tara has opinions about this, but this is my take on what the SIG is.

The short answer: the SIG is a volunteer group. Those who want to take responsibility, please do so, and you will be rewarded for doing so. The SIG is not about extreme altruism; everyone has to be free to contribute in the way and amount they want and can - in other words, related to whatever situation in life one is. Giving critique is vital too, as long as the critique is relevant (not personal) and true (openminded about misunderstandings). If someone conducts research / develops games / runs a website about GA, does he/she not to take responsibility just because he/she doesn't collaborate with (all or some) in the SIG? I believe they do. Via the SIG, members can share experiences, questions, solutions, conclusions, findings as well find people to work with and do stuff together. This is what I meant with bilateral collaboration in my earlier post.

This group started to put accessibility on the map for game developers; since 2003 many people in the group has contributed in many ways. For example, arranging GDC roundtables, IGDA booth sessions, IGDA full day tutorial, IGF competition, Develop conference, Gamasutra articles, research papers, and more. So I think the group - loosely connected as it is - does a lot more than drinking coffee. I believe all people on this list take their share of responsibility, in various ways. Just by joining this list is one step.

But, your point is taken. In the earlier years we had a more synchronized group with live chat meetings etc. During the first year of the SIG, I had the pleasure of getting to know the original members every two weeks for a year while we wrote the first white paper and a HCII research article together. However, such dedication is not possible for everyone for an extensive time; we've now been around since 2003 and some get a family and/or careers that makes it hard to be so dedicated. For me that is reality; I'm still around since part of my research is about game accessibility, but I spend less (or no) time in SIG meetings and more time writing my PhD. During the SIG existence, both Michelle and Tara has tried hard to get such live chat meetings to startup again, but it falls through eventually when too few show up (including me). On the positive side: the are a lot more SIG members today, so maybe times have changed. If you want to spearhead such an effort, or helping Tara out with other things, please do!

IMHO, the SIG still has the core goals as when it started, quoted from igda-gasig.org (which in turn is a qoute of the first white paper):

What do we do:

• Work together as a community to make great games accessible.
• Develop accessibility methods and share this knowledge within the community.
• Define the needs raised by different disabilities and game genres.
• Push the current game technology to its limits from an accessibility perspective.
• Learn from accessibility design in other areas, like the Web Accessibility Initiative at W3C.
• Develop a “road map” to what accessibility designs are possible today and in the future.
• Educate students and developers alike on what they can do to make a difference.
• Develop the above goals further together

Now, regarding the points above:
#1: "work together" doesn't mean work together on everything, in detail. It can mean that, but it can also mean discussion on this list, via forums, at GDC etc. IGDA SIGs are not top-down organizations, rather a very flat organization based upon volunteers.
#2: this list is a great way of doing that, as well as the various web sites etc run by members
#3: That has been done in research by e.g. Eelke and others on this list, but of course it needs constant updates as new game genres develop or old genres merge
#4: This is done all the time; and this list is a great source (among other sources) of information for that push.
#5: As far as I can recall, this point has not been very explicitly followed-up, and it should be, just keeping in mind that games is rather different than hypertext.
#6: Same as #5 I believe; much has been written in research and elsewhere but not compiled into a roadmap
#7: Those of us who are teachers (including me) are pushing GA to students wherever we can; and the industry gets their share at GDC
#8: GOTO #1

Based on a number of events, I would like to amend the list above with two points:
• Encourage and be humble to each other
• Give constructive feedback with relevant critique

Regarding your points:

- Section 508: this has been discussed many times, and similar laws are in Sweden (and I believe, in Germany). As long as the industry is viewed as entertainment, and don't think those laws will bite. So for now, I beleive the industry is safe. Until games are used in public services, such as public schools (which does happen, but still on a small scale)

- SIGs job: although it can be discussed whether volunteer work is a job, I get your point; we have been doing a lot, we are doing a lot, given our resources (for many equal to our own spare time). Anyone who have ideas of how to do this more or better are free to do so, and of course team up with others via this list. IGDA has been very supportive over the years of helping the SIG to reach out at GDC and elsewhere. Talk to Tara and get started.

- Creating standards: I believe that standardization is good in many ways, but it is also very hard; it takes a lot of time, resources and industry involvement. Then, the next thing is to get developers to use those standards. Many websites for instance still doesn't use the alt-tag for images, an extremely simple thing to do but time is limited, not just for game developers :) If you want to go the standardization route, you should first team up with Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, EA, Blizzard and similar big players. After 9 years it has not happened yet, but of course it is something to strive for. Anyone who feels like picking up this huge gauntlet, feel free to do so.

So yes, we chat some, we do some, we could do more. It is all up to those who feel obliged to do so; just don't be too altruistic about it. Unless you have unlimited resources, make sure you can make a living out of contributing, in the way that is possible for you. Otherwise, it is not a sustainable approach.

Mvh / Best regards
Thomas Westin
Stockholm University :: dsv.su.se :: +46 8 161992

On 7Jul 2012, at 3:10 PM, Sandra Uhling wrote:

> Hello,


> I would like to know:

> What does this SIG want?

> How do we want to reach it?


> What kind of role does this SIG have?

> What kind of responsibility does it have?



> My opionion:

> This is the Game Accessibility Interest Group of the IGDA.

> As a central group, with lots of international members,

> this SIG has a responsibility.


> The responsibility for the games indurstry,

> that they will get not hurt (Section 508, CRPD).

> And it is this SIG job to enable the industry

> to avoid barriers.


> It is also the responsibility to make sure that

> people understand games, and that Game Accessibility

> is very difficult and games cannot be barrier free.

> Create Standards that we need.



> BUT:

> At the moment we are only a chit-chat group drinking coffee.

> But that is all I see. I do not see responsibility and care

> for the games industry.



> So I would like to know what it this SIG?

> Do we only chat or can we work together and

> take responsibility for this topic?



> Best regards,

> Sandra





> _______________________________________________

> games_access mailing list

> games_access at igda.org

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

> The main SIG website page is http://igda-gasig.org

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