GDC 2018 Roundtable – Session Recap

When the GA-SIG had the first roundtable at GDC 2004, there was one (1) attendee… who had gone to the wrong room. Fast forward 14 years: there were now more than 50 attendees from the largest players in the industry to independent developers. THANK YOU ALL! We were thrilled to have 20-30 attendees the last few years but this year took us by storm.

IGDA_GA-SIG_Roundtable_GDC2018

In the roundtable we wanted everyone to say something about their next step (even the first) regarding game accessibility. It took more than 20 minutes just to do that, with me writing notes what was said on posters (pictured below).

poster_notes

People mentioned topics like guidelines, methods, strategies, economy/justify time, social issues, stigmas, organizational issues, accessibility and therapeutic games, and games in education. One of the most common “next step” was simply to start learning or learn more about game accessibility. Starting off the discussion, we focused on some things to begin with for making a game accessible, such as:

  • use of simulation goggles etc. for ideation (not validation)
  • how to handle colorblindness, text size, and head-bob
  • multimodal input and mapping
  • having public info about accessibility in the game on forums, Twitch and Youtube

During the discussion, attendees asked for guidelines. The answer was that there are several, where Game Accessibility Guidelines [1] and Includification [2] were suggested to start with. Our Top Ten list [3] is also a good start. Another question concerned how to recruit people with disabilities? Reaching out via social media was suggested, and don’t be afraid of failing, better to do something than nothing. The ‘always with us never without us’ ideal should be followed, but again better to do your best than nothing.

Furthermore, how to write for people with disabilities was also raised. The Plain English Campaign [4] was mentioned.  There was also a discussion about return on investment and how to argue for game accessibility. Several reasons were provided, such as legislation (CVAA in the USA, and EAA upcoming in Europe), and statistics and demographics (e.g. about 20% of the world population have a disability, and all gamers are ageing). Further, prototyping with standard/accessible UI elements and then include that as an alternative UI in the game was given as an example to make the game more accessible at almost no cost at all.

We welcome everyone who were at the roundtable (as well as you who read this) to continue the discussion via our mailing list [5]. Please feel free to join!

Best regards,

Thomas Westin
Co-chair
IGDA Game Accessibility SIG

[1] http://gameaccessibilityguidelines.com/

[2] https://www.includification.com/

[3] https://igda-gasig.org/about-game-accessibility/game-accessibility-top-ten/

[4] http://www.plainenglish.co.uk/

[5] http://lists.igda.org/mailman/listinfo/games_access_lists.igda.org

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2018 Game Accessibility 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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