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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Accessibility highlights of 2016

[Update: this has been reposted on Gamasutra]

2016 has been a hugely significant year for accessibility in game development. The following is a compilation of articles, news stories and advances from throughout the year. Many are news stories shared on the IGDA Game Accessibility SIG’s mailing list, but there are also others included from other sources.

This is not an exhaustive list, but it should give a sense of the ever increasing pace at which accessibility in the games industry is advancing.

January

Global Game Jam, which had several optional accessibility challenges, taken up by thousands of developers: http://globalgamejam.org/news/ggj16-diversifiers-are

Rocket League and MLB: The Show win AbleGamers game of the year awards
https://web.archive.org/web/20160502003424/http://www.ablegamers.com/announcing-the-ablegamers-2015-accessible-game-of-the-year/

February

Gamecritics.com now includes info on controller options and whether the game relies on colour, in addition to audio access:
www.gamecritics.com/brad-gallaway/gamecritics-reviews-enhanced-information-on-accessibility

A demo walking through how blind gamer SightlessKombat plays Killer Instinct using audio cues and stereo separation alone, and some discussion of how community effort led to some blind-accessibility features making their way into the game:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THbVXGulDUE

AbleGamers interview with another blind Killer Instinct player, Xavier Quintero:
 http://www.unstoppablegamer.com/killer-instinct-and-accessibility-interview-with-xavier-quintero/

Heroes Of The Storm win D.A.G.E.R.S. diamond award:
http://dagersystem.com/2015-diamond-award-winner/

SpecialEffect’s new games room facility opened by a cross-party parliamentary delegation, including the UK Prime Minister
http://www.specialeffect.org.uk/specialeffect-news/david-cameron-officially-opens-our-games-room

March

Record number of accessibility talks at At GDC 2016:
https://www.reddit.com/r/disabledgamers/comments/432m11/gdc_2016_conference/

Chad Johnson managed the GASIG roundtable at GDC:
https://igda-gasig.org/2016/04/19/ga-sig-roundtable-meeting-notes-gdc-16/

Record number of game accessibility sessions at CSUN 2016:
https://www.reddit.com/r/disabledgamers/comments/42qsp1/csun_2016_conference/

Article on VR accessibility by Katie Goode:
http://www.triangularpixels.net/cms/development/vr-games-for-all-designing-unseen-diplomacy-for-disabled-users/

April

Sony employee builds a custom PS4 controller for a gamer with cerebral palsy:
http://www.engadget.com/2016/04/04/ps4-controller-for-cerebral-palsy-gamer/

IGDA-GASIG panel at Microsoft’s Ability Summit.

Unity announce development of new input model, which should include engine-level remapping functionality:
https://blogs.unity3d.com/2016/04/12/developing-the-new-input-system-together-with-you/

GDC sessions up on GDC vault, with most of the accessibility ones freely available without subscription. Great selection of topics and record attendance too, average of around 120 people per session:
http://ian-hamilton.com/gdc16s-accessibility-sessions/

UKIE Student Game Jam, which had accessibility advice and an accessibility award:
http://ukie.org.uk/content/brunel-university-announced-winners-2016-ukie-student-game-jam

One Click Jam, one button themed game jam held in various physical venues around South America:
http://www.oneclickjam.org/es

May

Overwatch and Uncharted 4 released, two of the biggest games of the year and both with a range of accessibility considerations, such as Overwatch’s sound design and per-class remapping, and Uncharted 4’s wide range of motor accessibility features:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ls_CD4mB42s

One-handed Mode for Google Keyboard: http://thenextweb.com/apps/2016/05/03/googles-stock-keyboard-now-one-handed-mode/#gref”

24 hours of free online accessibility talks for Global Accessibility Awareness Day, including three on accessibility in gaming:
http://www.inclusivedesign24.org

Microsoft announce their ‘gaming for everyone’ initiative at E3, which includes commitments to accessibility:
http://news.microsoft.com/gamingforeveryone/

Accessibility interview with the developers of EVE online, including a request for public accessibility input:
https://www.themittani.com/columns/access-granted-accessibility-ui-interview-ccp-surge-part-1
https://www.themittani.com/columns/access-granted-accessibility-ui-interview-ccp-surge-part-2

Phil Spencer, head of Xbox congratulates Naughty Dog on their accessibility efforts in PlayStation exclusive Uncharted 4:
https://twitter.com/XboxP3/status/733701149916680192

June

Ian Hamilton’s Gamasutra blog post on highlights from the previous month:
http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/IanHamilton/20160620/275289/An_exciting_month_in_accessibility.php

Phil Spencer at Microsoft says: “We believe gaming should be fun for everyone”
http://blogs.microsoft.com/blog/2016/06/13/gaming-for-everyone/#sm.0008b6cvy1a1ndkdy092b7jnzhwsr

Madden 17’s accessibility featureset for impaired vision announced:
https://www.easports.com/madden-nfl/news/2016/madden-17-accessibility

Karen Stevens of the Madden 17 team sets up twitter account and email address for public accessibility feedback across all EA games:
https://twitter.com/ea_accessible/status/741696820196343808

Final Fantasy XV wait mode announced:
https://twitter.com/FFXVEN/status/742846836386332672

AJ Ryan chosen as first recipient of AbleGamers Fellowship
http://www.trionworlds.com/en/news/2016/06/introducing-the-winner-of-the-ablegamers-fellowship-2016-alex-james-ryan/

The Great Steampunk Game Jam, which had accessibility advice and an accessibility award:
http://blog.nationalarchives.gov.uk/blog/great-steampunk-game-jam/

Cliff Bleszinski shares veteran encounter story:
https://twitter.com/therealcliffyb/status/744232111079571456

July

Surviving and thriving as a game developer with chronic illness:
http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/277037/Surviving_and_thriving_as_a_game_developer_with_chronic_illness.php

Xbox confirm wheelchair avatars are in development:
http://www.theverge.com/2016/7/5/12095890/microsoft-wheelchair-xbox-avatars

Launch of Pokemon Go, inspiring a huge amount of accessibility discussion not only amongst gamers but also disability organisation that had not previously taken an interest in gaming, for example:
http://www.afb.org/slide/pokemon-go-accessibility
https://www.abilitynet.org.uk/news-blogs/pok%C3%A9mon-go-are-incense-and-street-view-key-more-inclusivity-disabled-people

Article on VR accessibility by Brian Van Buren:
http://www.vrinflux.com/vr-accessibility-why-changing-head-height-matters/

7128 top sites awards:
http://www.7128.com/top25/topsiteslists.html

First iteration of a Game Accessibility Curriculum Framework was presented and published at ICCHP 2016, Linz, Austria
http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-41264-1_68

August

Demonstration of Pokemon Go running with a single accessibility switch:
https://techcrunch.com/2016/08/05/teclas-tech-makes-pokemon-go-more-accessible-for-wheelchair-users/

One Button Jam, nearly 160 entries:
https://itch.io/jam/one-button-to-rule-all-jam#entries

Audiogame Jam, the best of which were showcased at Techshare:
http://jams.gamejolt.io/AGJam

Valve announce royalty free licencing for the lighthouse technology used in the HTC vive, opening up a path to accessible alternative controllers:
http://www.roadtovr.com/valve-third-party-lighthouse-api-steamvr-tracking-htc-vive-dev-kit-license-royalty/

Twitch partnership with Ablegamers, including a week of disabled streamers featuring on the Twitch homepage and a trial of new live captioning functionality:
http://kotaku.com/twitch-will-highlight-disabled-gamers-this-week-1785591255

Launch of Hue, which gained large amounts of media coverage of its colorblind support, simply through mentioning it in the game’s presskit:
http://blog.us.playstation.com/2016/08/03/vibrant-puzzler-hue-coming-soon-to-ps4-ps-vita/

Household Games hires Clint ‘halfcoordinated’ Lexa as an accessibility specialist
http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/279775/Household_Games_hires_speedrunner_as_accessibility_advocate.php

September

Apple add ‘hold at point’ functionality to switch recipes, making a huge range of iOS games compatible with accessibility switches:
http://switchgaming.blogspot.com.es/2016/09/ios-10-hold-at-point-aka-momentary.html

Microsoft publish high level guidance on game accessibility:
https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/uwp/gaming/accessibility-for-games

IGDA-GASIG Game Accessibility Conference Feb 27th 2017 announced!
http://www.gaconf.com/ 

Seattle VR Hackathon, which had accessibility specialists present and an accessibility mentor:
http://vrhackathon.com/seattle.html

WAG workshop on game accessibility:
http://cedric.cnam.fr/~dupirej/IFIP-WG14.9/WAG.html

Warlock of Firetop Mountain launch, a text heavy game with a rarely seen number of reading accessibility features – wide range of text sizes, choice of font, and configurable line spacing
https://twitter.com/ianhamilton_/status/803185284758310914

Bosskey publish game accessibility survey to inform future development:
https://twitter.com/therealcliffyb/status/780429207717474304

Talk by Tom Lorusso of Microsoft on research carried out with deaf/hard of hearing gamers:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0_3G-YSWRo

Second iteration of the Game Accessibility Curriculum Framework was presented and published at ICEC 2016, Vienna, Austria.
http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-46100-7_20

October

PSVR launch, with nearly all launch games offering a choice between motion input and controller input.

XX Jam, which had accessibility advice:
https://grrrlgames.wordpress.com/2016/09/04/announcing-the-xx-games-jam/

November

Nice talk from Brian Van Buren about VR accessibility:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=how99N0Pvj8

Ian Hamilton’s Gamasutra blog post also about VR accessibility:
http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/IanHamilton/20161031/284491/VR__accessibility.php

And a great panel dedicated to accessibility from VRDC:
http://www.gdcvault.com/play/1023932/For-Every-Gamer-Making-VR

AbleGamers aquires Get Well Gamers Foundation:
http://www.ablegamers.com/get-well-gamers/

Tangent wins the accessibility category of the Australian Game Developer awards:
http://www.kotaku.com.au/2016/11/here-are-the-winners-of-the-2016-australian-game-developers-awards/

Final Fantasy 15 includes accessibility section in game manual:
https://mobile.twitter.com/cherryrae/status/804166787415744513

Karen Stevens shares preview of EA internal accessibility reporting website:
https://mobile.twitter.com/ea_accessible/status/799049997262196736

Sony host a livestreamed accessibility panel at PlayStation Experience, including strong commitments to accessibility from Shawn Layden, head of Sony Worldwide Studios:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gslH30CTao

LSBU’s Enable Gaming accessibility education wins TIGA award
http://www.lsbu.ac.uk/about-us/news/winners-tiga-awards

December

Full CSUN lineup announced, including a record breaking eight accessibility talks:
https://www.reddit.com/r/disabledgamers/comments/5ktf7b/game_accessibility_at_csun/

Steam announce full remapping support for PS4 controllers:
http://www.unstoppablegamer.com/valve-supports-for-ps4-controller-opens-steam-to-more-accessibility/

Accessibility game jam in Poland:
http://rudydziobak.com/accessibility-game-jam-part-1/

Japan/Netherlands accessibility game jam:
https://twitter.com/gerritsen_marc/status/808650854655893504

Failbetter publish game accessibility survey to inform future development:
https://twitter.com/failbettergames/status/809384907583684609

FCC grant games software a further one year waiver from CVAA regulation:
http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2016/db1223/DA-16-1449A1.pdf

Ian Hamilton’s favourite quotes from the year:
http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/IanHamilton/20161230/288519/

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

Again the above post isn’t an exhaustive list, but even what’s here clearly shows a very exciting time for game accessibility, and 2017 is already shaping up to be even greater again.

/Thomas Westin (co-chair), and Ian Hamilton (member), IGDA GA-SIG

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GA Workshop

Please consider joining this academic workshop about game accessibilty.

http://cedric.cnam.fr/~dupirej/IFIP-WG14.9/WAG.html

Best regards,

Thomas W.

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Global Accessibility Awareness Day

24 hours of free online accessibility talks for Global Accessibility Awareness Day, including three on accessibility in gaming:

http://www.inclusivedesign24.org/

(Thanks Ian)

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