[games_access] Important Question: What is our meta aim?

John R. Porter jrporter at uw.edu
Sun Dec 21 15:34:14 EST 2014


For what it's worth, as a relative GA-SIG outsider and lurker, here are my
thoughts on the matter. I apologize in advance if anything I say comes off
as abrasive or gets under anyone's skin, but given that I *do* believe
we're potentially at a crossroads here, I think there's value in getting
cards on the table and not being mired down by overcompensatory tact and
hedging.

On the community side, AG & SE have done and are continuing to do
spectacular work. There's just no two ways about that point. Now that being
said, in spite of their successes, it's important that no one falls into
the 'solved problem' trap of thinking that AG, SE, the GA-SIG, or any
subgrouping is "effectively taking care" of the problem by themselves and
doesn't need support. It can be all too easy to get into the hubristic
mindset of thinking that a given approach is objectively the best or
correct one, and then become dismissive of anyone else doing similar things
as being second-tier at best and irrelevant at worst. Frankly, I have seen
bits of this sort of territorialism in the past on this mailing list, and
it's beyond frustrating. Not to be over-the-top with metaphor, but it's a
bit like music. So long as they are harmonious, multiple voices can be much
louder than one. For any sort of change movement, you need a choir, not a
solo vocalist.

Now turning our attention to industry, I wholeheartedly agree that this is
a good time to take a careful, critical look at the GA-SIG. Count me among
the number who feels that something needs to change.

Steve's suggestion of a refocus on diversity within the industry is an
interesting one, because he's absolutely correct that having developers
with disabilities is a POWERFUL way of getting the accessibility mindset
embedded. And that's not just idealistic people in the community like us
saying so; it was one of the findings of a study I did (published at ASSETS
2013) that interviewed industry folks. However, the question of whether
it's a good strategy is fundamentally different than the question of
whether the GA-SIG should be focusing here, and that question is in turn
fundamentally different than whether the GA-SIG should abandon its existing
foci.

Ian mentions that this sort of thing already falls under the purview of the
diversity SIG, and that's great. But it obviously isn't enough, since folks
with disabilities (as far as I know) are the most underrepresented
demographic in the industry but a wide margin*. So something has to change,
whether that's the GASIG taking on some of this advocacy, the GA-SIG
becoming more directly involved with the diversity SIG to combine
efforts/expertise, or something else entirely we haven't thought of yet.

But regardless of what the GA-SIG does about this problem, I think it is
strange to argue that it should abandon its fundamental tenets. The
bulleted list doesn't need to change, let alone go away.

In my mind, the problem with the GA-SIG is not what it tries to do. The
problem is that it is disturbingly ineffectual at *doing it *in any sort of
vocal or coordinated way. I've been subscribed to this list for almost as
long as Steve, and I be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed by how silent
and passive this SIG seems to be. There is obviously the seminal white
paper, that has obviously had good influence, and I know that there are
plans to do stuff this year at GDC, but there feels like so much untapped
potential. Maybe it's because there aren't enough industry people actively
involved with the GA-SIG. Maybe it's because past efforts have encountered
industry resistance. Heck, maybe it's even quiet because most of what
happens with the SIG is behind even *these *scenes. But to be brutally
honest, at the current moment, I don't see the GA-SIG as much more than a
chat forum for activists, researchers, and consultants who are doing their
work from the outside in. And that's awful, because it's clear how much
more it could be from the inside of the industry.

Steve is absolutely correct that this is about the GA-SIG growing up, but
not about needing to decide what it wants to "be what it grows up." As far
as I'm concerned, it already knows what it wants to be. It needs to "grow
up" and start being it.

-John

* Admittedly, a major factor in this is the general uphill battle that
folks with disabilities face in employment across all fields, but that's
not a good enough excuse.




*-- -- -- -- --John R. Porter IIIwww.jrp3.net
<http://www.jrp3.net/>University of Washington,*
*Human Centered Design & Engineering*

On Sun, Dec 21, 2014 at 10:17 AM, Steve Spohn <steve at ablegamers.com> wrote:

> The problem with the thesis statement of "this is the way it's always
> been," which is what you're saying, is that change is inevitable and
> necessary.
>
> SE & AG will continue to do what they do, as will the a valuable
> individual advocates, the question was what should GA-SIG be when it grows
> up.
>
> You think it's an awareness problem? No. It's a business problem. A
> problem advocacy won't fix.
>
>
> On Sat, Dec 20, 2014 at 9:25 PM, Ian Hamilton <i_h at hotmail.com> wrote:
>
>>  Personally, I agree completely with the importance of all the below,
>> however there is already an IGDA SIG with precisely that mandate - the
>> diversity SIG.
>>
>>  Despite all of the great work done by not only AG & SE but also the
>> many other other people involved in game accessibility advocacy (from vocal
>> individual advocates such as Brian Bors and Brandon Cole through to
>> industry/government bodies working behind the scenes, from gamers to
>> researchers, from internal studio/publisher champions through to university
>> educators), accessibility unfortunately is still not taken care of.
>>
>>  It's easy enough to see from other industries that you can never have
>> too many people working towards the advancement of accessibility, and
>> certainly as lack of awareness is still such an issue, every voice counts.
>> There are many many alternative ideas and routes to take, more than could
>> be addressed by the number of people working in the field at the moment,
>> and I personally wouldn't want to see any move in the direction of less
>> people focussing on it.
>>
>>  Diversity and accessibility are also two different topics with very
>> different legal and practical knowledge required, people who know about
>> accessibility aren't necessarily the best to be working on diversity, and
>> vice versa - I've seen all of that first hand from internal corporate
>> set-ups, it can go pretty wrong.
>>
>>  If the accessibility SIG was to establish closer ties with the
>> diversity SIG that would be great, but that's something different again.
>>
>>  So in short, yes diversity is critically important, but I honestly
>> don't think that changing the focus of an accessibility group to instead be
>> about diversity is a good way to go about furthering it, especially when
>> there's already a direct sister group that has that mandate - the IGDA
>> obviously doesn't need / can't have two diversity SIGs.
>>
>>  Ian
>>
>> ----- Reply message -----
>> From: "Steve Spohn" <steve at ablegamers.com>
>> To: "IGDA Games Accessibility SIG Mailing List" <games_access at igda.org>
>> Subject: [games_access] Important Question: What is our meta aim?
>> Date: Sun, Dec 21, 2014 00:57
>>
>>  I, for one, would like to see and strongly believe *should *the SIG
>> concentrate on getting people with disabilities employment opportunities
>> within the game industry, while AbleGamers and SpecialEffect continue to
>> lead the charge for gamers with disabilities. With much gratitude to an
>> increasingly welcoming community, both organizations continue to gain steam
>> in both funding and technological enhancements, effectively taking care of
>> the making 'games accessible' push we would all care about.
>>
>>  It is my sincerest hope to see GA-SIG re-direct its efforts in 2015
>> towards supporting game *developers* with disabilities. The employment
>> statistics for people with disabilities are nightmarish, at best, and the
>> number of game developers who identify as having a disability are extremely
>> low. The bullet list below should not be the mission of this group, as it
>> defines 75% of what AbleGamers and SpecialEffect already does. but rather
>> than focus this group overlapping what is already being accomplished,
>> GA-SIG could be making huge advancements in the support of developers with
>> disabilities.
>>
>>  Imagine the incredible inside push that could be accomplished from this
>> SIG, which is owned by the International Game *Developers* Association,
>> if all of you (including lurkers who read and don't post) were to come
>> together and start really advocating for developers with disabilities. Then
>> game accessibility guidelines like Includification and Ian's guidelines
>> become less critical because people who have disabilities will be in the
>> industry, fighting from within, instead of us pushing from the outside in.
>> The knowledge will already be inside the industry itself and therefore
>> accessibility becomes a part of the gold standard instead of an initiative.
>>
>>  From someone who has been a part of this group for eight long years, it
>> is always been a group about the long game. While SpecialEffect and
>> AbleGamers are fighting in the trenches of here and now, you all are
>> ensuring tomorrow will be a land of equal opportunity for game developers.
>>
>>  I cannot speak for SpecialEffect, but I can almost guarantee they would
>> share my sentiment in that we would love for there to be no need for our
>> organizations. We would love for games to be accessible to all and the
>> technology to be covered by government insurance plans,. By supporting game
>> developers with disabilities, you'll change the world of video games from
>> within, and maybe, just maybe, lessen the strain on us nonprofits, enabling
>> us to focus on gamers.
>>
>>  Have a great holiday season everyone,
>>
>>  Steve
>>
>>
>> On Sat, Dec 20, 2014 at 5:14 PM, Thomas Westin <thomas at westin.nu> wrote:
>>
>>  Hi Sandra,
>>
>>  I think most people might have gone offline for holidays by now :) but
>> adding to Ians thoughts, the description below (quoted from our website)
>> have been the aim almost since the start in 2003 (perhaps slightly modified
>> over the years), but your question is very legitimate:
>> - some of the points in ”what we do” section have already been well
>> achieved by members of the SIG and others; e.g. regarding points 2, 3 and 5
>> (bold text): there are now various sets of guidelines, whitepaper, website,
>> recurring attendance at GDC / other conferences, academic papers by various
>> members of the SIG
>> - Point 6, to develop a road map, well there is a session to look forward
>> to
>>
>> http://schedule.gdconf.com/session/building-a-manifesto-for-game-accessibility
>>
>> - the final (seventh) point relates directly to your question :) and
>> this, and the non-bold points are perhaps not so clear aims, more of what
>> is needed to be done continiously to reach those aims
>>
>>   Our Mission Statement:
>>
>>    - “Computer and console games are an important cultural and quality
>>    of life issue. By collaborating with the rest of the game development
>>    community the Game Accessibility SIG intends to develop methods of making
>>    all game genres universally accessible to all, regardless of disability. In
>>    order to do this we will promote education of game developers in
>>    accessibility design, tax incentives for accessible game developers,
>>    corporate sponsorship and accessibility ratings.”
>>
>> 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.*
>>    - *Develop a “road map” to what accessibility designs are possible
>>    today and in the future.*
>>    - Collaborate with professionals and students alike on what they can
>>    do to make a difference.
>>    - Develop the above goals further together.
>>
>>
>>  Best regards,
>> Thomas
>>
>>
>>  20Dec 2014 kl. 20:29 skrev Sandra_Uhling <sandra_uhling at web.de>:
>>
>>    other thoughs?
>>
>>
>>   *Von:* games_access [mailto:games_access-bounces at igda.org
>> <games_access-bounces at igda.org>] *Im Auftrag von *Ian Hamilton
>> *Gesendet:* Freitag, 19. Dezember 2014 23:28
>> *An:* IGDA Games Accessibility SIG Mailing List
>> *Betreff:* Re: [games_access] Important Question: What is our meta aim?
>>
>>    For me, it is to get at close as realistically possible* to the only
>> barriers to participation and enjoyment being those that are actually
>> required as part of a mechanic.
>>
>> *it won't ever be completely possible, as developers and manufacturers
>> won't ever stop having new ideas
>>
>> Ian
>>
>>    ------------------------------
>>
>> From: sandra_uhling at web.de
>> To: games_access at igda.org
>> Date: Fri, 19 Dec 2014 22:51:35 +0100
>> Subject: [games_access] Important Question: What is our meta aim?
>>  Hello,
>>
>>  one important question:
>>  What is our meta aim?
>>  What do we want to reach?
>>
>>  Kind regards,
>>  Sandra
>>
>>
>>
>> _______________________________________________ games_access mailing list
>>  games_access at igda.org
>> https://pairlist7.pair.net/mailman/listinfo/games_access The main SIG
>> website page is http://igda-gasig.org
>>   _______________________________________________
>> games_access mailing list
>> games_access at igda.org
>> https://pairlist7.pair.net/mailman/listinfo/games_access
>> The main SIG website page is http://igda-gasig.org
>>
>>
>>
>> _______________________________________________
>> games_access mailing list
>> games_access at igda.org
>> https://pairlist7.pair.net/mailman/listinfo/games_access
>> The main SIG website page is http://igda-gasig.org
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>  --
>>  Steve Spohn
>>
>>  *Chief Operations Officer*
>>
>>  AbleGamers Charity
>> AbleGamers.com <http://www.ablegamers.com/> | Facebook
>> <http://www.facebook.com/ablegamers> | Twitter
>> <http://www.twitter.com/ablegamers>
>>
>>  Read the award-winning, critically acclaimed set of game accessibility
>> guidelines for developers to create mainstream games that are accessible to
>> *everyone*: Includification.com
>>
>> _______________________________________________
>> games_access mailing list
>> games_access at igda.org
>> https://pairlist7.pair.net/mailman/listinfo/games_access
>> The main SIG website page is http://igda-gasig.org
>>
>>
>
>
> --
> Steve Spohn
>
> *Chief Operations Officer*
>
> AbleGamers Charity
> AbleGamers.com <http://www.ablegamers.com/> | Facebook
> <http://www.facebook.com/ablegamers> | Twitter
> <http://www.twitter.com/ablegamers>
>
> Read the award-winning, critically acclaimed set of game accessibility
> guidelines for developers to create mainstream games that are accessible to
> *everyone*: Includification.com
>
> _______________________________________________
> games_access mailing list
> games_access at igda.org
> https://pairlist7.pair.net/mailman/listinfo/games_access
> The main SIG website page is http://igda-gasig.org
>
>
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <https://pairlist7.pair.net/pipermail/games_access/attachments/20141221/15300493/attachment-0001.html>


More information about the games_access mailing list