[games_access] Project idea

John R. Porter jrporter at uw.edu
Thu Apr 2 17:43:09 EDT 2015

Just to weigh in with my two cents...

Education is obviously *critically* important, and something we should all
be invested in. I don't think anyone can argue that it *isn't* vital that
developers have a basic understanding of game accessibility, and some
common vocabulary/models that we can all use to talk about it.

But I feel like we are talking about two very distinct issues here. There
is 1) trying to help gamers make the most informed purchasing decisions
they can based on their needs and games' limitations, and 2) working to
make those limitations go away. The latter is obviously our goal,
ultimately, but it's also something that can't happen overnight, in a week,
a month, or even a year. That's why short-term solutions (adaptive
controllers, input modifiers, etc.) can be just as important as chipping
away at the root problem. So I say yeah, this is definitely something we
should take a shot at. It shouldn't be the ONLY thing being done, but it's
a tangible step in the right direction.

In response to your comments, Ian:

For sure, I agree that direct integration is far superior in almost every
conceivable way to depending on an extension. My only reason for suggesting
that approach was that, as I said, I know this idea has come up multiple
times over the years from people with far better connections than my own.
So, I assumed (perhaps wrongly) that the pitch had been made to Valve at
some point without success. Working with a noncommercial group, such as
Enhanced Steam, seemed like a tenable building block. Something that we can
do right now, without requiring Valve's participation, to clearly
demonstrate that this is viable.

That being said, I'm all for skipping straight to the finish line if you
think it's doable!

Coming back around to Sandra's concerns in a way, though, a unified
understanding of accessibility is going to be critical here. Subtitles are
a fairly obvious binary (with some gray area, but you get the idea), so
it's easy enough to trust a developer to say "yes, we have them" or "no, we
don't." Beyond that, things get much trickier. What factors go into
accessibility? How many of them can be expressed as binaries or on a very
simple continuum?

In my mind, the first step for something like this will be to agree as a
community on a core list of things that we would want to see Steam present
information on. Probably by looking at existing guidelines (e.g. Game
Accessibility Guidelines, Includification, etc.), distilling a master list
of concrete *features*, and then sorting them based on criticality for
play, simplicity for developers to accurately self-report, and so on.


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

On Thu, Apr 2, 2015 at 2:04 PM, Sandra Uhling <sandra_uhling at web.de> wrote:

> Hi, I highly recommend to provide a basic understanding of game
> accessibility first.
> This is my point of view:
> It is our responsibility to provide high quality and practical
> information. We have about 12 parallel existing recommendations.
> When we want them to avoid barriers, we have to enable them.
> I feel bad when I think about the situation with ubisoft and "subtitle".
> We had already lots of information, but did we support them?
> I wish for information that supports them very well.
> Regards Sandra
> --
> Diese Nachricht wurde von meinem Android Mobiltelefon mit WEB.DE Mail
> gesendet.
> Ian Hamilton <i_h at hotmail.com>schrieb:
>>  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?
>>  Ian
>>  ----- 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
>> (IGDA+AbleGamers+SpecialEffect+etc.).
>>  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
>> *-- -- -- -- -- John R. Porter III www.jrp3.net <http://www.jrp3.net/>
>> University of Washington,*
>> * Human Centered Design & Engineering*
>>    _______________________________________________ games_access mailing
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