IGDA Game Accessibility Special Interest Group

A Game for Helen - Special Effect

Image of ten year old girl Helen, smiling warmly. Text reads: A Game for Helen - Help us create a very special computer games suite for the young people of Helen and Douglas House.Last Friday Special Effect launched themselves formally in Oxfordshire. Here past, present and future projects were demonstrated and explained to the gathered crowd. Likely future UK Prime Minister, David Cameron was there as a speaker. He mentioned that after being shown around a nuclear submarine packed full of technology the day before, it was great to see technology that's designed for enriching people's lives, rather than for blowing them up. He also made mention of his 6 year old son who has Cerebral Palsy, and pledged to open any doors he could for the charity.

Have a good look around their newly spruced web-site to learn more of their projects. I'm especially excited to be involved with the "Game for Helen" project. And again, visit their Facebook page to see photos of the recent Accessible Gaming Roadshows.



Image of Bunsen Honeydew - Muppet show scientist. Game Developers want statistics - although probably not my favourite statistic that 88.2% of all statistics are made up on the spot (Vic Reeves).

Computer Shopper: Disabled People Prescribed Gaming
PopCap Games Study: Casual Video Games Demonstrate Ability to Relieve Stress, Improve Mood: Potential Clinical Significance Highlighted

Eelke Folmer: Statistical Research

Via: IGDA GASIG Mailing List

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Leaving in “god mode” game codes

Image of a Monty Python representation of God poking his head through some clouds - looking stern. Wazoo Enterprises states the importance of cheat codes within games in a very succinct way. Not 100% sure of the language used (I'm no fan of "special needs" as a term) - but I'm 100% behind the sentiment.

Via: Mersey Remakes


"20% of casual gamers are disabled"

Image of the game Peggle - a little like a Bagatelle or Pachinko machine.
More than one fifth of casual gamers have a “physical, mental or developmental disability” according to a new survey commissioned by PopCap.

The research, carried out by the Information Solutions Group, involved responses from 13,296 casual gamers, and also found that only 26 per cent of disabled casual gamers were said to play traditional video games.

Depression, ADD / ADHA and Rheumatoid Arthritis / Osteoarthritis ranked as the most common types of conditions amongst casual gamers.

The study found that those with disabilities typically play casual games more frequently and longer than non-disabled consumers, and find the benefits to include stress release, mood lifting, and "distraction".

"Games like Bejeweled and Peggle, with simple controls that are also mentally challenging and engaging are ideal for me, because my mind moves as quickly as the next guy's but I type with a mouth-stick," noted 58-year-old Gary Robinson, who is described as having "severe physical disabilities."

"In some ways, games like these are the greatest thing that's appeared on the computer scene for people like me," he added.

The topline data from the report was as follows:

Most Common Disabilities Physical (46% overall)
+ Rheumatoid Arthritis/Osteoarthritis (14%)
+ Fibromyalgia (11%)
+ Multiple Sclerosis (7%)

Mental (29% overall)
+ Moderate/Severe Depression (41%)
+ Bipolar Disorder (16%)
+ Anxiety Disorder (15%)

Developmental/Learning (25% overall)
+ ADD/ADHD (46%)
+ Autism (15%)
+ Dyslexia (11%)

Most Common Perceived Benefits Physical
+ Stress relief (84%)
+ Distraction from disability issues (73%)

+ Stress relief (87%)
+ Mood-lifting (78%)

+ Improved concentration (79%)
+ Improved coordination/manual dexterity (73%)

Via: CasualGaming.biz and Ernest Adams

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Atari Mindlink

Atari Mindlink. Image of a Karate Kid looking gamer playing an Atari VCS game of Mind Breakout - using muscles in his forehead.
In 1984 Atari were working on perhaps the first ever attempt at a commercial video game head-controller: The Mindlink. Left and Right movements could be controlled (to a degree) using left and right eye-brow muscles, with three games being linked to this device: Bionic Breakthrough, Mindmaze and Telepathy.

Atari found themselves ahead of their time, and ahead of available technology. Gamers complained of head-aches as they strained to play the games with any accuracy, leading to the technology being ditched.

YouTube Videos: MindLink, Telepathy.

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One-button FPS Design Challenge

GameCareerGuide's Game Design Challenge: One Button - Image of a game button marked with the letters F.P.S. - for First Person Shooter."The Challenge: Design a one-button first-person shooter game.

Assignment Details: This design challenge comes from Brandon Sheffield of Game Developer magazine and Gamasutra.com, and his assignment details are extremely minimal.

Design a one-button FPS game.

the game idea
the game mechanic
the platform
the target audience
why your game will be addictively fun.

That's it.

Succinct ideas will be highly favoured! Can you describe all this in only a few sentences?

Remember, the businessmen and women in the game industry don't want to read a hundred-page design document.

Get to the point. Sheffield will weigh in on the results. (Hint: Click here to find out what kinds of themes and styles he might be into.)

To Submit: The forum is the place to go to ask questions, discuss ideas, and kvetch about this particular challenge. Send your answers to gamecareerguide@gmail.com with the subject line "Design Challenge: One Button."

Entries must be submitted by June 18, 2008. Be sure to include your full name and school affiliation or job title.

Please try to keep your answers to 500 words or fewer -- and remember that part of this particular challenge is delivering a great idea succinctly. "

The responses for this challenge will appear the week of June 23, 2008. "

Via: Robert

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Brain Waves

Couple of Brain Wave Controller links: Kotaku and Yahoo News - "Paralysed Man Walks In Second Life" and AbleGamers preview of OCZ's Neural Impulse Actuator .


The Case for Gaming Accessibility

The Case for Gaming Accessibility - Image (c) Etherbrian - A Space Invader suitcase.A Case for Gaming Accessibility is made in Eitan Glinert's work - "The Human Controller: Usability and Accessibility in Video Game Interfaces".

"Despite the advances in user interfaces and the new gaming genres, not all people can play all games - disabled people are frequentlyexcluded from game play experiences. On the one hand this adds to the list of discriminations disabled people face in our society, while on the other hand actively including them potentially results in games that are better for everyone. The largest hurdle to involvement is the user interface, or how a player interacts with the game. Analyzing usability and adhering to accessibility design principles makes it both possible and practical to develop fun and engaging game user interfaces that a broader range of the population can play. To demonstrate these principles we created AudiOdyssey, a PC rhythm gamethat is accessible to both sighted and non-sighted audiences. By following accessibility guidelines we incorporated a novel combinationof features resulting in a similar play experience for both groups. Testing AudiOdyssey yielded useful insights into which interface elements work and which don't work for all users. Finally a case is made for considering accessibility when designing future versions of gaming user interfaces, and speculative scenarios are presented for what such interfaces might look like."


eDimensional Access Controller - On Sale

Image of eDimensional's Wireless Access Controller for one handed play of PS2, PS3 and PC "First announced back in October of last year, the Access Game Controller designed by technical wizard Ben Heckendorn for disabled gamers is finally ready for sale via eDimensional's website. The device, listed for use with the PlayStation 2, PS3, and PC, allows one-handed gamers modify the controller as they see fit via a series of circular modules containing face buttons, shoulder buttons, analog sticks and a d-pad.

The controller can be preordered right now for £70.85 delivered (about $140), with a shipping target of 8-10 weeks. A portion of all proceeds goes towards Children’s Hospital and Veterans Affairs Medical Centers."

Great work! More on one handed controllers at the Accessible Gaming Shop.

Via: Kotaku

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"Player vs. Everything: Gaming with a disability"

Image of a man playing a simple PC game with his mind. Great interview with AbleGamers over at MMORPG site Massively. Well worth a peek.

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Alert Project - image of a portable sound-system.
Accessible Learning through Entertainment and Recreation Tools (ALERT) Project Released

The International Game Developers Association (IGDA) Game Accessibility Special Interest Group (GA-SIG) and 7-128 Software are pleased to announce the release of the Accessible Learning through Entertainment and Recreation Tools (ALERT) Project.

The ALERT Project is a free on-line service for people searching for free or low-cost accessible computer games suitable for learning or rehabilitative environments. The service provides the following information:

- Where to get those games for free or at low cost
- What to look for in selecting those games, quickly, and with fewer costly mistakes
- How to apply those games to learning objectives
- Who to go to for free help

This information will be updated over the course of 2008 with a growing series of "How To" articles written by Eleanor Robinson, former college instructor and current game developer.

The ALERT Project is a result of information requests about available resources from educators to the IGDA GA-SIG and to 7-128 Software.

"As both a game industry consultant about accessibility and as an educational psychologist, when the ALERT Project was originally announced I immediately thought about getting the word out about the project to people working in the field of education, including those in special education and educational technology. With funding crises in education, particularly in the United States, schools could really benefit from this free resource that could help many students, particularly those with disabilities, gain the educational opportunities that educational games can provide," Michelle Hinn, IGDA GA-SIG Chairperson said.

Hinn is one of the Accessibility Experts who have volunteered to answer questions related to accessible games. Other IGDA GA-SIG members who are Accessibility Experts working with 7-128 Software include: Reid Kimball, Barrie Ellis, Mark Barlet, Thomas Westin, Eelke Folmer, and John Bannick, CTO of 7-128 Software.

"With the ALERT Project, we've tried to answer the plea of school psychologists, special education teachers, geriatric care managers, and similar professionals who want to use computer games with their students and patients but don't know where to start," said Bannick.
The ALERT Project is available without cost or registration at www.7128.com


Accessible mod for Rock Band

Image of the Sex Pistols - maybe not the most accessible band!
There's an accessibility mod for Rock Band for people who can't use their legs on the drum set kick stand. Instead, the mod adds a button to the drum stick to replace the need to use ones legs on the kick stand.


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