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

Thomas Westin thomas at westin.nu
Tue Dec 23 17:04:10 EST 2014


Hi all,

This SIG is about game accessibility but we should definitely work with the Diversity SIG for better workplace accessibility and inclusion of disabled in the industry; thanks Michelle for volunteering for that! The work by others has always been embraced by the SIG and many are also part of the SIG. I would love to have more members from the industry in the SIG, which is one reason why we have worked hard to have continious prescence at GDC since 2003. I agree that we have had our ups and downs in activity, but as we are a group of bilateral volunteers, what is being done (and not) is up each and one of us. 

We (the SIG) don’t have any fundings or other resources, except those we as members are able to bring to the table. This also makes coordinated actions a challenge; noone can force anyone to do anything. Yet, we have had a lot of activities during the years, e.g. various events at the GDC and other conferences. I will volunteer for reworking the list of to-dos during the spring, and will think of a time-effective way to get input from you all on that. 

Now, back to Christmas stuff...

Best wishes,
Thomas

21Dec 2014 kl. 22:41 skrev Michelle Hinn <michellehinn at gmail.com>:

> I agree that being a part of the IGDA means that we have better connections to HR folks in the industry -- it's these folks who are in the diversity SIG. Past efforts by our SIG have never resulted in attracting disabled developers or HR folks but its my hope that we will be able to make a stronger connection with the diversity SIG at GDC in a few months to discuss what all groups can do to help push this forward. I think everyone can agree that the more developers with disabilities we have in the industry, the push toward game accessibility is aided by one more link. But we need the right folks to partner with, as most of us are HCI folk and not employment professionals. 
> 
> I'd say more about this but I just got out of the hospital with major surgery (had to have half my stomach removed due to a cancerous ulcer) and I'm very, very sick at the moment -- my hardest surgery yet.
> 
> Anyway, just wanted to add that I'd be willing to take a look at the other SIG working on employment issues and see what all of us can do to raise attention toward hiring more developers with disabilities. Not unlike game accessibility, game diversity is something that can use more people aware of resources than just a few folks.
> 
> Have a great winter holiday season and a happy new year everyone!
> Michelle
> 
> On Sun, Dec 21, 2014 at 4:13 PM, Steve Spohn <steve at ablegamers.com> wrote:
> I love your letter, John. Well said.
> 
> Allow me to quickly clarify one thing. There is no tiered system. I'm even going to say it twice and bold it. There is no tiered system, and no one here is better than another. 
> 
> BUT I do wholeheartedly believe there is a difference in effectiveness of approach. Accessibility is not solved. It will never be solved. My point is simply that there are people out there (not just AbleGamers) already doing pushes into accessibility effectively.
> 
> And therefore I would love, love, love to see this group come together and help disabled developers. Because right now, no one else is. 
> 
> Allow Cole, Kingett, SpecialEffect, Barrie, AbleGamers, Porter, N0m4d, and all the others who are affecting change to continue fighting that battle, while focus here is put on helping disabled developers.
> 
> On Sun, Dec 21, 2014 at 3:34 PM, John R. Porter <jrporter at uw.edu> wrote:
> 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 III
> 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] 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.orghttps://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 | Facebook | Twitter
> 
> 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 | Facebook | Twitter
> 
> 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
> 
> 
> 
> _______________________________________________
> 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 | Facebook | Twitter
> 
> 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
> 
> 
> _______________________________________________
> 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

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