DIY Game Accessibility

DIY Game Accessibility in symbols. Image of a person reading a book. Image of a drill. Image of the Game Accessibility Information symbol below on blue background.

The Controller Project from Caleb Kraft of Hack-a-day is an excellent new addition to the gamut of people sharing and promoting game accessibility solutions.

I've long been an advocate of people finding their own solutions, but for some people the range of possibilities and barriers they face are utterly daunting. For that, thank goodness for the likes of the charity SpecialEffect (at least in the UK) and their loan-library, games-room, OTs and home visits. Anyway, here's some more D.I.Y. resources for accessible gaming tinkerers:

Acid-Mods: A forum full of ideas for hacks and solutions. It's dried up a bit recently but still worth trawling through.

Hack Ability Blog: A more "life-in-general" hacking
 blog with top ideas.

Dual-Ring: A brilliant game accessibility site, that shares some very affordable/free hacks/get-arounds for improving access such from Auto Hot Key scripts to adapting Ikea furniture. A must see.

Makey-Makey Hackcess: The brilliant and very easy D.I.Y. controller that works on PCs out of the box, and using the Cronus Device and Bullseye software, can be used on Xbox 360 and PS3. Huge possibilities, especially if you link it other controls with JoyToKey. More on that soon.

One Switch D.I.Y. pages: also try searching this blog on "hacked", "adapted" or "enabled". Loads more links here to easy to complex adaptations from me, and the likes of Gavin Philips and Ben Heck.

Sugru: Wonderful blu-tack feeling material that sets hard for easy physical adaptations. More to follow on that soon.

And there's tons more besides this. If you have any that I've not mentioned though, do feel free to get in touch to share them. Happy hacking.

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iOS7 - Switches > Switch Source > Head Movement

Apple are really starting to get their act together as regards switch access so it seems looking at previews of the iOS7 accessibility options.

The "Activate a switch on your input device now, or enable a built-in switch" looks like a way to make all the disparate methods of interfacing work (I hope). Love the addition of the head-switch using the built in camera. I assume accuracy would improve with the iPhone, iPad, iPod being mounted, rather than wobbling around in the hands of the user.

More info at 9To5 Mac, with thanks to Will Wade for the tip.

Screen shot of iOS7 Accessibility Switches options: Heading reads, Switches, Switch Source. Below reads, Activate a switch on your input device now, or enable a built-in switch. Screen: Control Switch control by tapping anywhere on the screen. Left Head Movement: Right Head Movement: Control Switch Control by tilting your head to the left or the right.

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My Ex-Boyfriend The Space Tyrant (PC/Mac/Linux)

So pleased to see the point-and-click adventure My Ex-Boyfriend The Space Tyrant! using the Game Accessibility Information symbol exactly as specified. The game has some excellent accessibility features, which author Luke Miller details well. It has an unconventional gay space theme adding further diversity to an often pretty sterile gaming world. Certainly the world's a much more interesting place for having different colours and ideas in it, especially when it's accessible. Many thanks to Ian Hamilton of Game Accessibility Guidelines for the tip-off.

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iOS 7: Better Switch Access On the Way

I've made no secret that I think current Apple iOS switch access is a confusing mess and extremely limited. With news of the pending iOS7 operating system update (see the video above (update: the clip was swiftly removed after publication - have a test card instead)), it looks like things could be improving soon. I'm second guessing, but I think there will still be some way to go before the following ever becomes a reality...

For Apple to set up a versatile Alternative User Interface Device protocol. Something that takes into account switch, joypad and mouse/head-tracker/eye-gaze access.

That (ideally) the wide range of existing switch interfaces remain compatible with the new interfacing protocol.

That a keyboard can be used to simulate a switch interface, and ideally a mouse can be used to simulate a future head-tracker or eye-tracker interface to keep costs down for developers. This would also open up a path for a wide range of controllers being developed for alternative access and some exciting D.I.Y. hacks.

That switches can be set-up to trigger held presses, taps, emulated gestures/taps, and work on old Apps and games (even if only to a limited extent).

Multiple-controller profiles being possible to easily set-up, save and load. How brilliant this would be for massively improving physical access to iPhones, iPods and iPads.

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Moon Waltz

Screen shot from Moon Waltz, of a cartoon town at night. A "Werewolfs don't exist!!" sign is pasted on a building, with a cigarette holding werewolf in front of it approaching a man in shades and a striped T-shirt.

Fun, but potentially ultra-violent, Major Beuno's Moon Waltz, gives you the power to reveal a full moon using the SPACE BAR. This will affect the state of a young man walking to the end of his town to buy some cigarettes, who happens to be a Werewolf.

You can choose to wreak absolute pandemonium upon the town, or try to be a more upstanding citizen. Hugely accessible, with a variety of different endings. My only wish is that you didn't need an additional switch to start and restart (key "R"), as this would make a brilliant pure one-switch game

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Polybius (1981) - Urban Myth

Image of Polybius in The Simpsons, seemingly a one-switch game.

"According to legend, an unheard-of new arcade game appeared in several suburbs of Portland, Oregon in 1981, something of a rarity at the time. The game proved to be incredibly popular, to the point of addiction, and lines formed around the machines, often resulting in fighting over who played next.

This was followed by clusters of visits from men in black. Rather than the usual marketing data collected by company visitors to arcade machines, they collected some unknown data, allegedly testing responses to the psychoactive machines. The players themselves suffered from a series of unpleasant side effects, including amnesia, insomnia, nightmares, night terrors, and even suicide in some versions of the legend."

That game's name was said to be Polybius. Looks like a one-switch game too, if the Simpsons' take is to be believed.

Via Wikipedia and WikiSimpsons.

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Cursor Click

Cursor Click screen shot, a single switch being pressed by a pixelated hand.

Cursor Click from Don Calaca replicates one of the earliest ever one-button games, played before most people had home computers. It took one or more pocket calculators that had a "constant calculations" mode, started by tapping in 1,+,+. You would then be able to hammer the equals button as fast as you could to constantly count upwards. With two players and two calculators you could both race to a set-number, e.g. first to 100 wins. The 1970s equivalent of Track and Field or Sonic and Mario at the Olympics.

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10 Years of

10 Years of - 2003-2013

Today (10.06.2013) is the 10th anniversary of being launched as an official business. Before then I was toying with it being a charity or something in between. It was started to share ideas and to try and make a small difference in the world.

It's nice to look back, and I'm so pleased to have started this journey for the many wonderful and supportive people I've come into contact with. It's good to look forward too. The book I planned to have ready today, OneSwitch 100, is still being written, but I'm determined to finish it. Coming soon too will be a solderless D.I.Y. switch interface and D.I.Y. analogue controls. Far off in the future another two books are planned. So many ideas, and so little time...



Hug Punx vs. Punks Not Dead

Screen shot from HugPunx. Black background, pink 8-bit style graphics of three lamp-posts, a bike and a woman arms outstretched for a hug, by some baby-blue figures waiting for a hug.

Screen shot from PunksNotDead. Black background, pink 8-bit style graphics, a burnt out car and group of punks running about.

HugPunx and PunksNotDead are two games sharing simple controls but opposing Utopian/Dystopian scenarios when the world turned Day-glo.

Both require excellent tracking skills, as it's easy to lose track of your character when things get busy. HugPunx is incredibly easy to complete. PunksNotDead is nightmarishly hard (even with the extra ability to jump bullets). Great music in both and striking pink on black graphics. HugPunx can be made one-switch accessible using William Pilgrim's brilliant 4Noah 2010 Beta utility. A one-switch hugging simulator. Hmm... Recon it wouldn't be too tough to adapt a hugging machine for real (see below).

Squeeze Machine

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Being Human




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