Game Accessibility Campaigner: Gareth Garratt

Gareth and Mum, Jacqueline Garratt, in front of his game controller, a Toshiba Mouse on raised box to bring it to a comfortable chin level.

Gareth Garratt has achieved something fantastic. He’s one of a growing number of disabled gamers who have petitioned for greater access in a game, and then been promised it by the developer.

Facing the familiar problem of being unable to reconfigure the game controls on his latest purchase, EA’s Dead Space 2, he posted his frustrations on the  OverClockers Forums.

This in turn led to people spreading his message further, a huge boost to Chuck Bittner’s Custom Remapping Petition, and eventually straight to the developers of Dead Space 2 themselves. They ended up posting the following:

“Hi Gareth, I’m a developer from Visceral Games Australia, the studio responsible for the PC port of Dead Space 2. Sorry to hear about your issue – I’ve spoken with a few key people here and we’ll do our best to include a fix for it in the next patch. In the mean time, please PM me. Cheers! Michael.”

Then, in a message to Joystiq, Dead Space 2 executive producer Steve Papoutsis went one further.

“The Dead Space 2 team is aware of the issue that disabled players are having with Dead Space 2 PC. In fact a number of folks on our team are so passionate about getting this fix done that they are currently working hard to allow players to re-map key bindings to the mouse which should help disabled players enjoy the game.

“I’d like to say I’m very proud of the people on the Dead Space 2 team for coming in today and jumping on the fix first thing. Working with such a talented and compassionate group of people is incredible and makes me proud to be a part of the Dead Space 2 team, Visceral Games, and Electronic Arts.

“In addition to the key binding fix the patch will include other fixes for PC players. Thank you for taking up the cause for our disabled players and letting us know about this problem. Once the patch is fully tested we will announce a release date.”

Let’s hope EA will be encouraging all their teams to add reconfigurable control options in the future.

Links to: PC GamerEuroGamer and others – via Gavin Philips, Mick Donegan and Lynsey Graeme on the IGDA GASIG mailing list.

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