[games_access] Project idea

Ian Hamilton i_h at hotmail.com
Thu Apr 2 16:51:31 EDT 2015

Absolutely agree about the value, though obviously it would be better if it could be implemented into Steam itself rather than needing an extension.... And I actually think it would be easy enough to get that done.

There's already a precedent set, in 2013 a deaf woman in the UK started a change.org petition for Steam to add information on closed captioning - https://www.change.org/p/steam-please-list-subtitle-options-on-the-store-page

It got some decent coverage, e.g MCV, and within a couple of weeks Steam went ahead and added it. Not just as information though, but as a filter, so on Steam's game listings you can now choose to display only the games that have captions.

So the functionality is all there actually there already (and is used for other info outside of accessibility too), it's just a case of adding additional filters.

The data wouldn't need to be crowdsourced either, the existing captioning box is filled out by developers. The lure of extra discoverability and fear of low ratings should be enough to encourage it to be filled in, and filled in accurately. So long as it is based on individual features, unlike the Windows store's single 'accessible' tickbox, which isn't helpful info and is regularly misused.

As I see it at least, the ideal setup would be a set of tick boxes for the most common features, and an optional free text field for any additional considerations. The common features displayed with symbols on the game page itself (in the same way as what was implemented on IndieCity due to Lynsey's work), and also linked to allow filtering, the glittering also possible from the game listing pages, and the contents of the free text field just displayed on the game page.

I found the right person there to talk to at Steam about adding some more in for other common considerations such as colourblind friendliness (inc. CBF by default, not just modes), remapping, etc.

She seemed pretty interested but ultimately it'll be a question of priorities, how far up the backlog it comes compared to everything else they need to do.

So again I completely agree, a joint request from a few bodies would have far more weight than just me suggesting it, and get it shunted further up the backlog.

Shall we make it happen then?


----- Reply message -----
From: "John R. Porter" <jrporter at uw.edu>
To: "IGDA Games Accessibility SIG Mailing List" <games_access at igda.org>
Subject: [games_access] Project idea
Date: Thu, Apr 2, 2015 19:59

Hey all,

I had an interesting thought about a possible project we could consider,
but it's not something I (at least for the next few months) have time to
push on personally, so I figured I'd toss it out here and see if it stuck.

Over the years, the suggestion repeatedly pops up of having information
about different accessibility features clearly listed in digital
storefronts – in particular, Steam. Everyone seems to universally agree
this is an awesome idea, but one that has significant hurdles. Most
obviously, it's dependent on convincing Valve to actually do it. And while
this isn't impossible, the fact that it hasn't happened yet means it's not
a trivial request.

A couple days ago, in a research seminar I run, one of the undergrads told
me about an awesome tool he uses called Enhanced Steam
<http://www.enhancedsteam.com/>. For those unfamiliar with it, it is a
browser extension that automatically kicks in whenever you are viewing a
product in the Steam store, augmenting the page by adding additional
information. Right now, it's things like historical price trends, time to
beat, third-party widescreen certifications, and so on. But generally, it
just aggregates information from elsewhere on the Internet.

So my thinking is this: why don't we explore the possibility of getting
accessibility information integrated into Enhanced Steam? From what I can
tell, that would essentially require two steps. First, we would need to
build the data source. We'd likely need to crowdsource it's population, but
there are definitely ways to pull it off. Second, we would need to get
Enhanced Steam to buy in and add accessibility information as a pane on
product pages. If the data is there, I also don't think this would be
difficult, especially if the request was made jointly

The way I see it, the benefit of this would be twofold. First, it would be
a tool of immediate utility. If all you need to do is install a free
extension to get access to this information, then it's going to be a boon
to a lot of people. And second, I think it could be a powerful proof of
concept. Even just getting it working for a limited selection of games
could show Valve in a very tangible way that the idea is worth getting
behind. Maybe they want to continue pulling from a community data source,
maybe they decide to formalize it internally. Who knows. But either way, it
would be a win.

Thoughts? I'm running purely on caffeine the moment, so apologies for my
rambling :/

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