[games_access] Appropriate Interfaces for Blind Gamers

Thomas Westin thomas at westin.nu
Mon Feb 8 05:12:35 EST 2016

Thanks Dan,

The Jeff Healey video is a great example which really enhance what Brian is saying.

Brian (the Ear monsters dev) also had a talk at GDC a few years ago about this. I often use it as a great example to explain to my students the need of involving end users, at least after the initial design based on research and guidelines is done. The devil is in the detail.


> 8Feb 2016 kl. 08:16 skrev Chad Philip Johnson <chad at anacronist.com>:
> Hello all,
> I was reading an article this evening on Gamasutra about the game Ear Monsters (http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/BrianSchmidt/20130617/194489/Making_Ear_Monsters_Developing_a_3D_Audio_Game.php <http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/BrianSchmidt/20130617/194489/Making_Ear_Monsters_Developing_a_3D_Audio_Game.php>).  The developer was making what he expected to be a straightforward accessibility experience for blind gamers on smartphones and tablets.  Initial feedback was not as positive as he expected because he didn't account for players that held the device in unconventional ways.  Here's the relevant snippet:
> One other accessibility issue was reported by several blind players who said that all the sounds were backwards; when they tapped on the right side, they’d hear their attack from the left.   It turns out that the code I’d added to detect orientation and flip the game—which, ironically, I had added in specifically so that visually impaired gamers would always have the correct orientation!— was too clever by half.  A normal sighted player will typically hold their device in their hands, with a tilt towards themselves.  And that’s how we tested Ear Monsters.  However, it turns out that many visually impaired players played the game either laying their device on a flat table, or even in their laps, with a slight tilt away from them.  In that case, the game would frequently rotate itself away from the player, upside down. And when they tried to turn around their device to fix it, it would rotate away again!  That is also being addressed by fixing the orientation to one specific landscape orientation, which is common for iOS games.
> This reminded me of a blues-rock guitar player name Jeff Healey.  He became blind in his infancy and then started learning music and the guitar shortly afterwards.  He developed a highly unorthodox way of holding and playing his instrument:  he would lay the guitar in his lap and place his fingers in a downward position--not unlike pressing keys on a piano.  The video in the following link shows how he accomplished this:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gIkOaTVu8uM <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gIkOaTVu8uM>.
> Anyway, I noticed a correlation between the two and thought I would throw that out there in case anybody else found it interesting.  Perhaps this is a more natural way for people to interface with input devices that have flat surfaces.
> -- 
> Chad Philip Johnson
> Anacronist Software
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