GDC 2014 Roundtable wrap-up

The IGDA Game Accessibility SIG roundtable at GDC 2014 was a great success.

We had attendants who were from Australia, France, Sweden, UK and USA (in alphabetic order), both students and professionals. Further good news was that the GDC policy has changed so now everyone with an Expo pass could attend too, thanks *a lot* for that! We also warmly welcome eight new members to the SIG.

The roundtable started off with a brief introduction to the SIG and a brief history of what we have been doing the last ten years. Then we went on to introduce the available guidelines as well as the need for tools. Regarding the latter one important contribution from the industry this year, was the colour blind support in the new Unreal 4 engine. Big kudos to Epic for that – photo from the expo floor below:

GDC 2014 Epic Unreal4 ColorBlind

Unreal 4 by Epic Games supports color blind

The theme for the roundtable was to discuss how the success story of collaboration with Film Victoria could be repeated in other countries. Brad Giblin explained how Film Victoria came about including game accessibility in the application for funding. An important note to make about these is that it was voluntary to consider accessibility, and that it allowed for flexibility as to what access features were considered and which could not be implemented in the argumentation. Almost every project, which had applied for funding since had considered game accessibility, with motivation of what could be done and not without breaking the core mechanic, which is a great success.

From a business perspective, this quote was mentioned, which was also used to market the roundtable on a flyer I and Ian handed out during Tuesday-Thursday: “Two-thirds of Europeans say they would buy, or pay, more for products if they were more accessible and better designed for all” (European Commission 2012. Flash EuroBarometer 345. p.58). While statistics can always be questioned for validity and reliability, the data is based on 25,516 interviews in all 27 member states of the EU, which makes it one of the larger studies I have found regarding accessibility in numbers, and it is well done.

The discussion that followed was creative, ranging from the need to be able to remap controls, having skins in Unity for all devs (not just Pro), cross-collaboration with other SIGs and existing good examples in games. Further, it was stressed that closed captioning in games was lagging behind the standards of TV which should be addressed. Echoing the “Beyond graphics session” on Thursday, GA may be a tool in itself, which means GA could be a natural part of the design process, to prototype an interface with standard (accessible) components before adding the visual details and style, and then include the prototyped stuff in the final game for accessibility.

Going forward we should focus on collaborating with national funding organisations similar to Film Victoria and how we can repeat that success globally. Further, working with the game industry in making tools for helping devs implement solutions as easy as possible, where the gameaccessibilitycode.com is a starting point. We got interest from members to work with us with IGDA chapters, tools and advocacy. All in all, this was a great outcome of the roundtable IMHO.

Attendants at the IGDA Game Accessibility SIG roundtable at GDC 2014

Attendants at the IGDA Game Accessibility SIG roundtable at GDC 2014

Finally, a group photo was taken of the attendants of the 10th roundtable of the SIG (above). As the SIG was founded in 2003, we have now been around more than half the time of the IGDA itself! Thanks to all members of the SIG and the IGDA staff, and let’s make the next ten years even more successful!

Best regards,

Thomas Westin

Co-chair of the IGDA Game Accessibility SIG

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