[games_access] Looking for feedback

Ian Hamilton i_h at hotmail.com
Thu Apr 16 03:35:58 EDT 2015

I think both angles can have value, depending on the situation and people involved.

Two real world examples:

First someone who was trying to persuade others in their team to implement multiple input methods.

The good game design for all players angle was no use, as the designers were convinced that the input method they had chosen was the best. They couldn't picture anyone having different preferences.

So then the accessibility angle. Doing the work solely for benefit of minorities was easier than the game design angle because it's not really a matter of opinion, its easy enough to explain that some aren't physically able.

It came down to the line, but towards the end of development they implemented four different input methods. It was solely on the basis of accessibility, the designers were still convinced that their original method was obviously the best, and the only people who would use the others would be people who physically had no choice.

They then tracked the data and discovered how wrong that was, each of the four input methods saw approx 25% use.

So in this example selling it on game design alone was ineffective. Accessibility alone was more effective, but still tough. But now that they have the data, for future games they'll be able to solidly argue that it should be done for both accessibility and good game design, which will be an easier sell again than either angle was individually.

Second example, one of the big FPS franchises.

The designers there desperately wanted to work on accessibility, but any time anything disability related made it onto the backlog it was kicked straight off again by their bosses, due to the usual misconceptions about demographics and return on investment.

So they were looking for ways to get stuff in as good design. Top of their list was remapping, which they wanted to push as something beneficial for core gamers, and not mention accessibility at all.

They weren't successful with that particular feature, but it's certainly something that I've done myself before when dealing with my own colleagues or bosses who are actively hostile towards accessibility and can't be persuaded otherwise... Leave the term accessibility out of the equation, just let it happen naturally by concentrating on the things that can easily be justified as good general design.

It's not ideal, it can be trumped by other people's ideas of what constitutes good design and I wouldn't rely on it as a first resort, but it can help in a pinch.


----- Reply message -----
From: "Chad Philip Johnson" <chad at anacronist.com>
To: <games_access at igda.org>
Subject: [games_access]  Looking for feedback
Date: Thu, Apr 16, 2015 05:35

Regarding the "disability angle", yes... that will always be there and
will continue to be effective.  I'm just thinking that we would be able
to get some developers on board sooner and bring greater visibility to
game accessibility if the case can be made that the core audience will
also benefit from these additional design considerations.  After all,
this works to increase the game's sales potential.

Including disabled gamers also boosts sales potential, but I'm inclined
to believe that in most cases it would be looked at as being higher risk
and with lower potential for rewards.

Chad Philip Johnson
Anacronist Software

> Date: 11 Apr 2015 17:13:08 -0700 From: Ian Hamilton <i_h at hotmail.com>
> To: IGDA Games Accessibility SIG Mailing List  <games_access at igda.org>
> Subject: Re: [games_access] Looking for feedback Message-ID:
> <BAY403-EAS1138ACCC5E3BF608848A00A91F80 at phx.gbl> Content-Type:
> text/plain; charset="utf-8"
> It's a mix, there's still loads of retrofitting that goes on, but as
> awareness increases situations like the attached tweet are becoming
> more common. I often see developers discussing or asking for advice on
> accessibility pretty early on, over colourblindess and remapping in
> particular.
> Another really powerful driver is when accessibility is introduced in
> development funding applications (e.g. Film Victoria), meaning
> applicants are required to at least think about it before they have
> properly started production.
> The disability angle generally seems to be a bigger driver than the
> improving experience angle, with developers who are interested just
> wanting to do the right thing and avoid unnecessarily excluding people.
> That it's also good game design seems more of a nice surprise rather
> than the reason for doing it.
> So for me at least it seems primarily about explaining the disability
> angle, then secondly supporting the disability angle by mentioning that
> it is good general design practice. As a reassurance against the 'it'll
> dilute my mechanic' misconception, and as a way of explaining that it
> isn't anything scary, through showing how much good stuff they're
> already inadvertently doing in their day to day work.
> Ian

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