[games_access] Roundtable Meeting Notes from GDC 2016

Barrie Ellis barrie.ellis at oneswitch.org.uk
Sun Apr 10 06:29:24 EDT 2016

Great list, Chad, nice work! Things are definitely moving.


On 8 April 2016 at 23:37, Chad Philip Johnson <chad at anacronist.com> wrote:

> *News*
>     1. Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA)
>         1. Legislation passed in 2010
>         2. It was originally intended for full compliance to be achieved
> by October 2013 (consumers would be able to start filing complaints after
> this date)
>         3. A new waiver for game software *only* was granted until January
> 2017
>         4. The video games industry originally requested an extension
> until 2021, but was only granted a waiver until October 2015
>         5. CVAA's captioning requirements are for broadcast video only:
> they do not include video in the games
>         6. The FCC does not regulate captioning of home videos, DVDs or
> video games; DVDs have captions most of the time because TV shows, movies,
> etc. must contain captions in order to be broadcast (to be in compliance)
>         7. Any device that offers Advanced Communication Services (ACS)
> must make those communication services available to people with
> disabilities unless it is not “achievable” to do so.
>         8. The CVAA defines ACS as:
>             1. interconnected VoIP service
>             2. non-interconnected VoIP service (does not require
> connection to the public switch telephone network); for example TRS
> (Telecommunications Relay Service)
>             3. electronic messaging service (including text messaging,
> instant messaging, email and two-way interactive messaging through a social
> networking site)
>             4. interoperable video conferencing service.
>         9. Three categories exist in the CVAA for video games:  (I) game
> consoles, (II) game distribution and game play networks, and (III) game
> software
>         10. Products released before the expiration of the waiver are
> exempted (PS4, Xbox One, Wii U, etc. are technically exempted)
>         11. Businesses and organizations with less than 30 employees are
> exempted
>         12. At the FCC's discretion, requirements can be waived for
> equipment and services that are capable of accessing Advanced Comminication
> Services, but are designed primarily for purposes other than using ACS
>         13. Offer a fixed set of customization options for the subtitling
> of broadcast video (full control over text size, font, letterboxing and so
> on is available on YouTube, Netflix, Smartphones, etc.)
>     2. Console accessibility features for Xbox One and PlayStation 4
>         1. Xbox One:  screenreader, magnifier (also in-game), closed
> caption presentation (with API), high contrast, and limited button
> remapping (at the system level)
>         2. Playstation 4:  limited screenreader, magnifier (also in-game),
> closed caption presentation, high contrast, bold text, large text, text
> speed, and limited button remapping (at the system level).
>         3. Nintendo Wii U and 3DS:  Nothing as of yet--probably won't
> appear until the next round of consoles are released.
>         4. Steam:  Nothing as of yet--this potentially puts the company
> out of compliance with the CVAA, but it may depend on how the exemption for
> preexisting devices and services is interpreted (for example, what
> constitutes a major update to the service?)
>     3. Publisher-level accessibility evaluations at SCEE and BBC
>         1. The game user research team at Sony Computer Entertainment
> Europe has started to offer accessibility evaluations as an internal service
>             1. Offers expert game review, player-behavior observation
> testing, diary studies, and general analytics
>             2. This internal tool consists of two parts:
>                 1. A spreadsheet with a straightforward list of possible
> accessibility considerations, with additional columns to indicate whether
> each is relevant to a gameplay mechanic, how feasible it is, and
> recommendations for implementation
>                 2. Detailed support document with precise specifications
> for platform-level certification of accessibility features
>             3. This is currently an optional internal service at Sony
> Europe, but it will eventually be shared with the wider business and game
> user research community
>         2. The BBC produced a similar list/procedure this year for use
> across its first and third party games
>             1. The BBC is publicly funded so has a strong accessibility
> culture, meaning their list is a set of requirements and is not an optional
> service
>             2. Requires its games to comply with as much of the
> list/procedure as is reasonably possible
>     4. Continued increase in accessibility implementation in the industry
>         1. Big increases in developer considerations, in particular for
> accommodating epileptic and colorblind gamers
>         2. There was a strong social media reaction to the lack of
> colorblind friendliness in Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 and The Witness; this
> is compared to only two years ago where games such as Sim City and
> Borderlands 2 considering colorblindness was unusual enough that it
> received significant press coverage
>         3. Two AAA console games intentionally patching in accessibility
> for completely blind gamers
>             1. Mortal Kombat X added optional extra sound cues for
> background objects and power meters
>             2. Killer Instinct received a patch to add a HUD UI slider and
> additional sounds for moves that didn't yet have unique sounds
>         4. Other accessibility considerations outside of developing
> features
>             1. Turtle Rock Studios published an accessibility statement
> for its game Evolve, which details what considerations have already been
> made; the company also made a public commitment to further work in this area
>             2. The Witcher 3 received many accessibility patches by its
> developer CDProjektRed in the weeks following its launch; the developers
> prioritized accessibility features in a critical fix; this included full
> controller remapping, colorblind mode, and improving the size and contrast
> of text
>             3. Harmonix was actively soliciting for accessibility
> suggestions on their forums during development of Rock Band 4; this has
> resulted in more than 18 pages of suggestions from players
>         5. Awards
>             1. Rocket League and MLB: The Show 15 winning AbleGamers awards
>             2. Heroes of the Storm winning DAGERS award
>             3. Ryan North's To Be or Not to Be winning the accessibility
> category at the Australian Game Developer Awards
>     5. Work of accessibility advocacy organizations
>         1. Accessibility charity foundations have seen increases in their
> donations which has allowed them to ramp up their outreach work.
>         2. Special Effect recently opened a Games Room in Oxfordshire
> along with the Prime Minister, other members of government, and industry
> professionals
>             1. The Games Room helps people with disabilities benefit from
> the fun and inclusion of video games and other forms of leisure technology
>         3. AbleGamers
>             1. Launched AbleGamers Expansion Packs which are bundles of
> assistive technology to be installed in various locations that serve people
> with disabilities, such as group homes, special needs daycare facilities
> and long-term living centers
>             2. Launched the AbleGamers fellowship, aimed at improving
> diversity through scholarship funding and mentorship for disabled students
> *Action Items*
>     1. Accessibility of sessions at GDC
>         1. Not much in the way of improvements over previous years
>         2. There are still significant distances to travel between
> accessibility talks—it was requested that these sessions be grouped
> together to make it easier for attendees to get from one to another
>         3. Some grouping coincidentally occurred in the West Hall, but the
> advocacy track expanded significantly making scheduling requests like this
> unrealistic to accommodate (sometimes six advocacy sessions were occurring
> at the same time)
>     2. Educating Tool and Engine Developers about Accessibility support
>         1. Traditionally engines have been a sizeable barrier for
> accessibility
>         2. Unity now allows full controller remapping at the system level;
> Unreal includes a colorblindness simulator; both have built-in captioning
>         3. A well-established engine developer has shown some interest in
> the GA SIG's list of possible improvements that tools and engines can make
> for game accessibility
>         4. A significant future step to advocate for is fixing of screen
> readers in games for blind gamers; multiple technology layers (OS +
> middleware + game engine, etc.) are currently hindering adoption of screen
> readers, preventing developers who want to develop blind accessible games
> from being able to do so
>     3. Educational Material in Higher Education
>         1. There are a number of people collaborating between the IGDA
> Education SIG and Game Accessibility SIG on a Game Accessibility education
> framework
>         2. Contact Thomas Westin for more information
>     4. IGDA GASIG Website
>         1. Hosting moved to the IGDA web servers
>         2. Need to update the theme and general structure of the website
>     5. Accessibility Information in Storefronts (such as Steam)
>         1. Some small developments with Steam:  now filters games that
> have captions
>         2. Nothing for colorblindness, button remapping, etc.
>         3. Itch.io offers these types of filters
>         4. Evaluation of how Itch.io works and filters its games would be
> very valuable, if anyone is interested in working on this
>     6. Advocating for fixed-point mode for Switch users on iOS
>         1. Switch accessibility means allowing access to custom
> controllers based on one or two simple on/off controls; for example, a
> sip/puff tube, headrest button, blink detector, etc.
>         2. iOS and Android (to a lesser extent) offer built-in support for
> switch accessibility when using native interface elements
>         3. iOS has a workaround for apps that aren't developed natively
> (i.e. most games):  the game scans the screen and the player interacts when
> the desired coordinates appear
>         4. There are thousands of one button mobile games that should in
> theory be switch-compatible, but the fixed point mode doesn't work with
> them, as it is incompatible with games that require any kind of timing
>         5. Barrie Ellis of One Switch / Special Effect created a video
> with wide backing from the game accessibility community about what works
> about it and what doesn't; Apple have since implemented an additional mode
> (switch recipes) that allows repeated presses on a single point, removing
> the incompatibility issue from all of those thousands of games overnight
>     7. Presenting at Conferences
>         1. Over 20 talks by members on a wide range of topics at a wide
> range of different conferences, both industry and academic
>         2. Five accessibility talks at GDC with record attendance (three
> years ago, average attendance was about 30, in 2016 average attendance was
> about 130)
>         3. Six gaming sessions at CSUN (cross industry accessibility
> conference—a lot of web and apps)
>     8. Expanding Accessibility at Global Game Jam
>         1. Global Game Jam (GGJ) and other game jams have proven to be
> powerful awareness raisers for Game Accessibility
>         2. GGJ hired accessibility advocate Giselle Rosman as an executive
> producer to oversee the organization of the 2016 event
>         3. Six optional game development themes related to game
> accessibility (e.g. one handed controls, no visuals)
>         4. Thousands of developers took up one or more of those six
> optional game development themes
>         5. AbleGamers planning to offer a 24 hour hotline operational
> during GGJ 2017 to offering game accessibility support and advice
>     9.  Film Victoria Refresh
>         1. Film Victoria is a government funding body in Australia for
> game development and provides accessibility criteria to developers to help
> determine how to allocate funding
>         2. This was out of date due to advancements in technology, but was
> recently made current
>         3. In the three years the Film Victoria funding has been
> available, there has never been a single developer to fail to fill out the
> optional accessibility questions
>         4. The Melbourne game development community in general is really
> knowledgeable of game accessibility, largely as as result of Film Victoria
>         5. It is important to increase engagement with funding bodies so
> that game accessibility is a consideration for funding allocations
>         6. Creative Europe, an EU-wide funding body, now has similar
> accessibility criteria and used Film Victoria as a case study
>     10. Accessibility Awards
>         1. Further push for embedding accessibility awards within general
> industry awards
>         2. TIGA awards in the UK accessibility award was replaced this
> year by a diversity award; looking to bring it back in 2016
>         3. Australian Game Developer awards through Giselle Rosman has
> been offering an accessibility award for the last three years
>     11. Coordinating Blog Posts
>         1. Ian's post at Gamasutra about best practices for subtitles in
> games; see article here:
> <http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/IanHamilton/20150715/248571/How_to_do_subtitles_well__basics_and_good_practices.php>
> http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/IanHamilton/20150715/248571/How_to_do_subtitles_well__basics_and_good_practices.php
>         2. In general, anyone who writes an accessibility-related article
> or blog post should ensure that it is reposted to sites such as Gamasutra
> for higher visibility
> *New Action Items*
>     1. Accessibility at GDC 2016 (and what to do for GDC 2017)
>         1. There was a big line up for press people to use the wheel chair
> lift; the press area was located upstairs and the Moscone Center was
> working on its elevators so these areas could not be reached by people that
> could not use the stairs
>         2. The session Audio Driven Gameplay was essentially about blind
> accessibility in games but was on the Audio Track and not the Advocacy track
>             1. It was intentionally put on the Audio Track because it was
> expected that it would have broader appeal; however, this limited the
> number of people that could attend (because advocacy sessions are open to
> all types of passes)
>     2. Accessibility Summit
>         1. Would be similar to 2005's GA-SIG GDC event: Selection of
> talks/activities/mini-expo (for potentially half a day) to allow control
> over accessibility of venue, distance between sessions, and a greater
> number and variety of sessions than the regular GDC Advocacy Track can
> support on its own
>         2. Invite people from ALT.CTRL.GDC that have created gaming
> hardware that lends itself to game accessibility; presenting these devices
> within an accessibility context will drastically change how they are
> interpreted (a lot of people just look at these devices like they are these
> fun, goofy inventions)
>         3. Invite hardware manufacturers that produce accessibility
> devices to present, such as Gimp Gear
>         4. Don't schedule summit in a way that will conflict in any way
> with the Game User Research (GUR) Summit as there is potential crossover
> between the audiences of both summits
>                1. GUR summit tends to shift between Monday and Tuesday
> *General discussion*
>     1. Storytelling:  include diverse character roles that account for
> accessibility representation
>         1. Some gamers would not like to choose to play as a disabled
> gamer in a game, because they play games for escapism
>         2. Other gamers have strongly identified with characters that have
> minor or major impairments
>         3. A German indie game called The Unstoppables has four different
> characters with different accessibility obstacles; it is a puzzle game
> where characters must combine their abilities to progress through a level
> *Tri*
> *via Questions and Answers *
> *Super Hard*
> Q: What games company adapted a range of their coin-operated arcade
> machines to make more accessible to disabled people in Japanese day-centres
> and rehabilitation clinics?
> A: Namco.
> Q: In what decade were the first skill based electronic coin-operated
> one-switch games first created?
> A: [we think] The Rotary Merchandiser in the 1930s.
> Q: Who wrote the one-switch PC game Donkey in 1981, possibly the first
> ever "PC" game?
> A: Bill Gates and Neil Konzen for IBM.
> Q: Why were keyboards invented?
> A: The first working typewriter was built in 1808 as a way for blind
> people to be able to write letters.
> Q: What type of games did Matthias Nordvall present on at GDC 2013? (or
> easier.... what demographic of disabled players rather than what type of
> games might give people a better chance?)
> A: Haptic games for people who are deafblind
> Q. Name one of the earliest game console controllers, by a big company,
> designed to enable physically disabled players.
> A. The Atari Kids Controller 1983 (designed for young children who found
> the standard Atari joystick too unwieldy to use) or The Nintendo USA
> Hands-Free Controller 1988 (designed for chin and sip-puff use for players
> paralysed from the neck down).
> *Super Easy*
> Q: Name a common types of colourblindness?
> A: Deuteranopia, protanopia, tritanopia (will accept deuteranomoly,
> protanomoly, tritanomoly, or red-green, or blue-yellow)
> Q: What are the four main categories of disability?
> A: Motor, hearing, vision, and cognitive, as defined by the world health
> organisation
> Q: Name a current gen console that has accessibility features
> A: XB1 and PS4 added accessibility features for the first time in 2015
> Q: Apart from the SIG, name another game accessibility organisation or
> website
> A: SpecialEffect, game-accessibility.com, AbleGamers, DAGERS,
> abilitypowered, audiogames.net, accessiblegamer etc etc
> Q: Name a funding body that has accessibility criteria
> A: Film Victoria or Creative Europe
> * Challenging*
> Q: What year was the Game Accessibility SIG founded?
> A: 2003
> Q: Which popular game engine has a built-in colour-blindness simulator?
> A: Unreal
> Q: How many iOS games are listed on applevis.com as being fully
> blind-accessible?
> A: 230 (within 50 to get it right).
> Q: Who is the #1 ranked chun li player in the world?
> A: Mike Begum. He can't operate a controller with his hands due to
> arthrogryposis, so plays using his mouth
> Q: Why do Ubisoft require subtitles in all of their games?
> A: In response to complaints about the first Assassin's Creed game not
> having any
> Q: When gamer Brice Mellen challenged Ed Boon, creator of Mortal Kombat,
> to a game of Mortal Kombat and beat him, why did it get so much coverage?
> A: Brice Mellen is blind
> --
> Chad Philip Johnson
> Anacronist Software
> _______________________________________________
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> The main SIG website page is http://igda-gasig.org
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