A Sea Change?

A sunny hazy picture from the sea of a train running down Southend-on-Sea pier.

This post is aimed at the game industry in general: I remember back in 2006 Kotaku publishing a really offensive article linked to game accessibility. It was an example of one or two ignorant men in positions of power, not really getting it.

What was far more frustrating to come up against at the time was the amount of ignorance in general around what things in gaming design were commonly disabling people; What it was that stopped people from being able to enjoy playing a game. It wasn't that people in gaming didn't care about their fellow humans. It was frequently that they simply just didn't know anyone was finding it a struggle.

Roll on six years, and I can sense a sea-change in understanding, willing and empathy. It makes me really proud and happy to have been a small part of the game accessibility movement that is bringing this about.

Below are some key 21st century efforts to get good useful information across to game developers...

IGDA GASIG White Paper (October 2004)
RetroRemakes "Why Can't They Play?" (April 2005 onwards)
IGDA GASIG Top 10 (September 2005)
UA-Games Game Over! (April 2007)
Eelke Folmer's Help You Play Interaction Design for Games (May 2007)
OneSwitch Design Tips for... (August 2008)

BBC's internal Accessible Games Standards v1.0 (August 2010)
7-128's Blind Computer Games Guidelines (January 2011)
SpecialEffect's Wish List for Accessible Game Design (May 2011)
SpecialEffect's Top 5 Tips for Game Developers (September 2011)
IGDA GASIG Top 10 (revised September 2011)

CEAPAT Best Practices in Video Games (Spanish April 2012)
Ian Hamilton headed Game Accessibility Guidelines (September 2012)
AbleGamer's Includification (September 2012)

You can find much more at the moth-balled Game-Accessibility.com  resource section. To be honest, you can't go too far wrong with most of the above. Dive in!

This isn't everything developers need, and the sheer quantity of information can seem daunting (try addressing one point of a Top 5 or Top 10 for a gentler route in). There's still a long way to go before there's a truly one-stop resource for all you need. Perhaps there never will be. Don't let that stop you trying to boost accessibility. And never forget that even if you add just one accessibility feature, it can make a massive difference.

This all very much ties up with the UN's Convention of the Right of the Child, Article 31:

"1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.

2. States Parties shall respect and promote the right of the child to participate fully in cultural and artistic life and shall encourage the provision of appropriate and equal opportunities for cultural, artistic, recreational and leisure activity."

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