Episode 30: Game Accessibility Conference with Ian Hamilton

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Description

Happy Global Accessibility Awareness Day!

Join us as we chat with Ian Hamilton  about the importance of accessibility and the success of the inaugural Game Accessibility Conference. Ian is a UX design and accessibility consultant. We'll chat about the success of the conference as well as quick ways for you to get started on making your game more accessible!  

Game Accessibility Guidelines: http://www.gameaccessibilityguidelines.com

Game Accessibility Conference: http://www.gaconf.com/ 

And here are links to each talk featured at this year's conference!

Friction That Fits - Unlocking Inclusive Fun

Bryce Johnson, Xbox 

Inclusive game design is as difficult as it is valuable. Here’s why: we usually make software accessible for people with disabilities by removing barriers and reducing friction, but being challenged (conflict + resolution) is why we play games. In this talk, we’ll take examples of friction in gaming, examine them with an inclusive design lens, and show how we can tailor fit the experiences to make them playable without sacrificing what makes games fun.

 

Beyond Ageism: Designing Meaningful Games for an Older Audience

Bob De Schutter, Miami University

Are you interested in developing games for a huge upcoming audience of retirees born during the baby boom? This session discusses the findings from a decade of academic research on this topic and has some surprising findings. It introduces a series of design guidelines that are derived from many interviews, surveys, gameplay experiments and design workshops with older adults.

 

Design considerations and best practices for subtitling your game

Kari Hattner, Crystal Dynamics

Subtitles are one of the most established accessibility features for video games, and yet there are no consistently agreed-upon standards on how they should function or appear. Their presentation can have a significant impact on the player's ability to understand and enjoy your game. This session discusses how to address the most common complaints with subtitles and suggests best practices based on successful implementations in games and other media, and examines why there is no one-size-fits-all solution for subtitles in games.

 

Accessibility and VR

Brian Van Buren, Tomorrow Today Labs 

VR is a unique medium with unique accessibility concerns, and as developers we need to address them now, at the beginning. This session covers the basics of VR as it exists today; what you need to know about the hardware and software. It covers the specific accessibility concerns of both, as well ways to design software (in general) and video games (in specific) to be more inclusive. Topics such as AR and non-entertainment software accessibility are also be discussed, as well as the near future of VR and what to look for as the technology moves forward.

 

Breaking the Sound Barrier: How Game Audio Can Improve Accessibility

Adriane Kuzminski, Smash Clay Audio / AbleGamers

In this talk, Adriane discusses accessibility barriers that could be overcome using audio. By allowing gamers to depend on multiple streams of information and facilitating textual elements, GUI symbols, and player orientation for those without sight, sound can play a greater role in game accessibility.

 

Accessibility as a Micro-indie

AJ Ryan, AbleGamers; Giselle Rosman, Global Game Jam; Henry Hoffman, Fiddlesticks; Nathan Fouts, MommysBestGames; Nicole Stark, Disparity Games

Tackling accessibility as a small indie is a very different prospect to tackling it as a large AAA studio, for many reasons. Not just the differences in budget and resources, but also workflow, approval, politics, toolsets. This session explores some of both the advantages and challenges unique to working in a studio of less than five people, and offer advice to other developers who find themselves in the same situation.

 

Improving Game Accessibility in Children's Games Through QA

Hannah Bunce, BBC

In this session, Hannah, test engineer at the BBC, will discuss the issues raised in training a QA team to effectively test games accessibility, as well as demonstrate the pros and cons of having dedicated accessibility testers embedded in games QA teams. She will then talk about where and how accessibility QA fits into the wider games production pipeline.

 

'Evolve': An Adventure In Accessibility Retro-Fitting

Tara Voelker, Gaikai

It's always said that you should plan for accessibility from the beginning, but what happens if you don't? Turtle Rock Studios learned the hard way with Evolve, but gained a lot of knowledge taking steps to make their game more accessible post launch. In this session, learn not only how to avoid the challenges they encountered but how thinking of gamers with disabilities made their title more appealing to the general audience for Evolve Stage 2.

 

The Enable Gaming Project

Siobhán Thomas, London South Bank University

The Enable Gaming Project is a award winning partnership between London South Bank University and the charity Lifelites, set up in 2012 to bring computer gaming to children with disabilities in hospices. LSBU Game Cultures students are commissioned to develop computer games for children at all 54 baby and children's hospices in the British Isles. It's not just a university assignment. It provides students with the type of life lessons that are impossible to replicate in a classroom. This session covers how and why the initiative came together, practical insights into how it is run, and personal stories of the some of benefits at has brought over the past four years.

 

Gaming Without Sight: We Wanna Play Too

Brandon Cole, independent

Find out what it's like to be a totally blind gamer! Brandon Cole shares some of his own blind gaming anecdotes, like how gaming for him began as a practical joke, and how he blew the minds of friends and family alike playing a certain tricky bit of Metal Gear Solid. He goes on to discuss things that have already been done for the blind when it comes to game accessibility, and lastly, he talks about what could be done to make games more accessible in the future. Spoiler alert, it's not as scary as you think.

 

Uncharted 4: A Thief's End – A New Adventure In Video Game Accessibility

Em Schatz, Naughty Dog; Alex Neonakis, Naughty Dog; Josh Straub, D.A.G.E.R.S. 

Emilia and Alex speak about accessibility development at Naughty Dog and discuss, along with Josh Straub (D.A.G.E.R.S.), the value of connecting with community advocates. They go into detail about their work to make Uncharted 4: a Thief's End more accessible, including design, implementation, and the process of convincing the rest of the team of its importance, along with how outside groups and consultants can aid teams in implementation.

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