2018 Game Accessibly Conference (GAConf)

Going to GDC or San Francisco on March 19th?

Make sure to join us at the 2018 Game Accessibly Conference (GAConf)
 Monday March 19th 2018.

Read more at Gamasutra

Best,
Thomas, co-chair, IGDA Game Accessibility SIG

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Update: Mailing list working again

Hi all,

IGDA moved to a new mailing list server and our new list address is games_access@lists.igda.org

All users should have been exported to the new server. If you have not received mail-list emails from January 11, please get in touch with me (thomasw[at]dsv.su.se).

There were technical issues with the move and it has not been possible to send e-mails during December and early January. On behalf of IGDA I apologize for any inconveniences this may have caused.

Hopefully everything will work from now on.

Best,
Thomas
co-chair
IGDA Game Accessibility SIG

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Accessibility content survey

One of the IGDA game accessibility SIG’s current activities is to revisit the content and structure of this website, to ensure it is as useful as it can be for as many people as people.

As part of that work we’ve put up a quick survey, asking about your role and interest in accessibility, and what kind of content you find useful or would fimd useful.

It should only take around five minutes, and whatever your role, level of interest or level of involvement with the SIG we would love to hear your thoughts.

https://goo.gl/forms/VPruT6PhHk4RgmyT2

Thanks!

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The IGDA Gaming and Disability Scholarship Sponsored by Microsoft

IGDA-GASIG and Microsoft are pleased to announce a $5,000 USD scholarship towards university tuition costs, aimed at supporting the entry of developers with disabilities into the games industry.

The scholarship will be awarded to one student who is enrolled or accepted at an accredited university in the USA or Canada for the 2017-2018 academic year, with payment made directly to the school, for use towards tuition costs only.

Applications (including submission of GPA & enrolment proofs) are open until June 1st 2017, following which the recipient will be contacted by email by June 30th, and announced publicly on July 3rd.

Eligibility requirements:

  • A high school senior or undergraduate student accepted at or currently enrolled at an accredited university in the U.S or Canada
  • Academic Performance
    • High School Students: 3.2 or Higher Cumulative GPA
    • College Students: 3.0 Higher Cumulative GPA
  • Enrolled full-time in or accepted as a full-time student at an accredited university in the U.S. or Canada in the 2017-2018 academic year
  • Self-identifies as an avid video game player and as having a long-term or recurring health issue that significantly impacts one or more daily activities

Application is through a short online form. The form asks for contact information, details of GPA and university enrolment (proof of both must be emailed to igda.gds@gmail.com before June 1st 2017), and answers to three short essay questions.

Application form

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IGDA GA-SIG track at ArtsIT conference!

Hi all,

I’m very happy to announce that we will have a Special IGDA GA-SIG track in collaboration with IFIP at the ArtsIT conference in Greece!

See the call for papers here

It has not yet been published on the conference website but should pop-up in the next few days on http://artsit.org/2017/show/cf-papers

Best,

Thomas

co-chair, IGDA GA-SIG

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GDC 2017 Roundtable Notes

Hello all!

Below are the notes from the 2017 GASIG GDC round table. In line with the general feel of GDC this year there was an uptick both in attendance and in the level of AAA representation. Record attendance, lots of both old and new faces, some keen to get involved with actions, others just along to learn a bit more about the SIG or the topic.

Kicked off with a quick update on some of the general industry advances of the past year

– Continued implementation of accessibility functionality on consoles
– Valve adding remapping to Steam, and open sourcing their VR lighthouse tech
– Unity working on a new input model, including engine level cross device analogue <-> digital remapping
– iOS10 launch included a game specific update for a hold at point recipe, making iOS games such as Badlands, Alto’s Adventure and and Jetpack Joyride instantly compatible with accessibility switches
– Unprecedented levels of discussion of accessibility failings and opportunities in Pokemon Go, from gamers, developers, even advocacy groups who do not usually have much involvement with accessibility, such as Abilitynet and the American Foundation for the Blind.
– Accessibility in VR, still fairly nascent but plenty of developers implementing nice solutions and discussing issues, big step on from when motion or touchscreens were at this stage of development
– Many nice examples of individual games, but in particular Uncharted 4, which has sent significant ripples throughout the industry
– Microsoft Gaming for Everyone initiative launched, which explicitly includes accessibility for gamers with disabilities
– High level backing from Microsoft and Sony, with significant public accessibility commitments from Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, and Shawn Layden, head of Sony Worldwide Studios
– CVAA given another waiver until Jan 2018, although this time with fairly stringent reporting requirements.

Next a status update on the various SIG actions and initiatives

COMPLETED

– Advocate for greater accessibility at Moscone. Taken as far as it could go, GAconf used as a solution.
– Pre-GDC summit. GAconf held on the Monday of GDC week, great reception from attendees.
– Accessibility information for console developers. Content produced, now just needs to be uploaded to the SIG site and circulated to relevant contacts.
– Broaden Global Game Jam accessibility challenge. Organisers not keen on a separate event so fully integrated it with Global Game Jam instead, resulting in 6 accessibility diversifiers in the 2016 event taken up in the region of 3000 times, probably reaching something in the region of 10,000 developers.

IN PROGRESS

– Educate tool and engine developers about accessibility. Initial work done and contacts at a number of engines interested in the information, now need to collate into a document with examples and circulate.
– Research and produce bolt on curriculum material in higher education courses. Initial framework produced and presented, now looking for volunteers to help flesh it out.
– SIG website update. In process of being migrated to IGDA hosting, after that need UX work (personas, content auditing, journeys), retheming with an accessible responsive theme, and content production to fill any gaps that might be identified.
– Support for disabled developers. Gabby Taylor looking into the possibility of a separate group, supported initially by the accessibility SIG.
– Microsoft scholarship. Microsoft Gaming for Everyone offering a scholarship to a developer who identifies as having a disability. It is being administered by the SIG, so need volunteers to help review applications.

ONGOING

– Advocate for improved switch accessibility on mobile devices. This has seen great success so far, but there is always more to be done.
– Present at research conferences. Two academic papers presented on SIG activities, and workshop held at ICEC 2016 in September. Dedicated accessibility track at a European academic conference is currently work in progress.
– Speak on accessibility at gamedev classes and conferences. GDC, CSUN (both of which had record numbers of game accessibility talks in 2016), PAX, Nordic Game, Epic UX summit, and Playstation Experience and many others had member talks. GASIG invited to the Microsoft Ability Summit for a panel. Member (Siobhan) iniative “The Enable Gaming Project” won best educational initiative at the TIGA awards.
– Accessibility criteria in game funding programmes. Another national funding body is now interested in adding accessibility criteria, using Film Victoria as a case study.
– Accessibility in industry awards. TIGA award reestablished, AGDA accessibility award now in its 4th year.
– Accessibility how-to posts and articles on sites like Gamasutra. A number of member articles, and the SIG now has its own dedicated gamasutra account.

We were due to have Thomas and Jerome do a remote presentation on the educational framework next, but the internet was not being our friend! There is however a powerpoint presentation about the framework available. Instead we moved on to open discussion, starting off with the general state of the industry and then moving on to more specific ideas on new actions/initatives :

– Website content on how to source people for playtests and user research
– Greater efforts to shine lights on successes, such as posters at GAconf or some website mechanism
– A mechanism for gathering feedback across games and making it available to developers, along similar lines to EA’s existing internal efforts.

Unfortunately a decent chunk of the attendees had already left by the time we remembered about the group photo, but here’s what we did manage to capture:

If you would like to stay plugged in with the group and its activities, join the mailing list. If you are interested in getting involved, take a look at the above in progress / ongoing / new activities above, and see if there is anything that you would like to help out with. If so, just drop an email over to the mailing list.

Please consider Chad (chad [at] anacronist.com), Ian (i_h [at] hotmail.com), and Thomas (thomas [at] westin.nu) as resources if you have any questions and/or comments.

 

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Completed actions in 2016

We have made progress on several actions, some are now complete, some ongoing while others remain to do. Here is a compilation of all current actions and the status of each.

Advocate for greater accessibility at GDC/Moscone

Status: complete

Discussions had, not achievable due to the increased scope of the advocacy track, meaning that sessions cannot be scheduled close to each other, either in time or location. Instead, the feedback will be rolled into #GAConf plans, with all sessions taking place on a single day in a single room.

Educate tool and engine developers about accessibility support

Status: in progress

Further discussions had with key people at several engines. Two are now 100% interested in receiving materials, another is potentially interested. Now need to adapt Chad’s initial auditing work into report format and circulate, including examples either of other tools that already implement features, or games implement the desired end result. This is a key effort to lower the threshold for developers, and something we should put more focus into.

Research and produce bolt-on curriculum material for higher education courses

Status: In progress

Our efforts to research and produce bolt on curriculum material for higher education courses continues. A milestone was achieved with a curriculum framework in two peer-reviewed research papers. Now open educational resources need to be co-created and shared to ease the process for educators, as well as for auto-didacts. A piece of work to collate existing resources (tutorials, talks, articles) could be valuable.

SIG website update

Status: In progress

Now unblocked, Chad is currently working on migration of the current site over to the main IGDA servers. Once migration has been completed, restructuring and retheming work can commence. Restructuring will be a UX project, retheming will involve adapting an off-the-shelf responsive theme to be in line with WCAG2:AA.

Push for accessibility information in storefronts such as Steam

Status: In progress

Itch.io have now provided the SIG with full press logins, so auditing work can commence as soon as enough people have enough time available. Goal is to compare accuracy of the developer-submitted information across different categories, and propose any changes that might be helpful for improving accuracy, building towards a best-practice case study that other storefronts can learn from.

Advocate for improved switch accessibility on mobile devices

Status: ongoing

Previously complete, but reopened. Advocating for further improvements across platforms, such as the hold at point functionality that was introduced in iOS10 in September, making huge numbers of on button games compatible with accessibility switches overnight/

Present at research conferences

Status: ongoing

Two papers presented on SIG activities, and workshop held at ICEC2016 in September.

Research about game accessibility is also going forward in general. A search in Google Scholar on ”game accessibility” (exact phrase) during 2016 shows 74 results (excluding patents and quotes). A caveat is that this search also includes books and some articles may not be peer-reviewed. https://goo.gl/C09cqL

Speak on accessibility and silver games in game developer classes and conferences

Status: ongoing

Members speaking at a wide range of conferences, including GDC, CSUN (both of which had record numbers of game accessibility talks in 2016), PAX, Nordic Game, Epic UX summit, and Playstation Experience. GASIG invited to Microsoft Ability Summit for a panel. Ongoing educational content and guest lectures, including Siobahn’s Enable Gamers programme receiving industry recognition at the TIGA awards. Tara also doing great things through Evolve’s twitch channel.

Broaden Global Game Jam accessibility challenge

Status: Complete

Organisers not keen on having a separate challenge, so has now instead been fully integrated into the ongoing mainstream diversifiers process. Global Game Jam now has an executive producer who is a strong accessibility advocate (Giselle Rosman), as a result GGJ 2016 had a record number of accessibility diversifiers, taken up by many thousands of developers.

Accessibility criteria in game funding programmes

Status: Ongoing

Dialogue opened with a national industry body who are interested in implementing accessibility into an upcoming government investment programme, using Film Victoria/Screen Australia/Creative Europe as case studies

Festivals and awards: advocate for accessibility categories

Status: In progress

TIGA award re-established as part of broader diversity efforts, Australian Game Developer awards running their accessibility category for the 4th year

Pre-GDC summit

Status: In progress

Event announced, sponsors in place, most speakers confirmed, venue booked. www.gaconf.com

Support for disabled developers

Status: In progress

Looking into possibilities of supporting the initial stages of a new group, with some initial activity at GDC17

Accessibility how-to blog posts and articles on sites like Gamasutra

Status: Ongoing

A number published by members over the year, IGDA-GASIG gamasutra account now active for cross-posting of articles from the SIG website

 

Full action list available at
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1vvDqoJkpcTiDZ3iyJpEk3eiQO1L62Ffd5DV1cxZo4Ns/edit#gid=0

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