EDIT: Happy to see that there are still plenty of questions coming in! Keep them coming, we're happy to keep dipping back in to answer more


Today is Global Accessibility Awareness Day! As part of the industry wide pushes happening all over the world today a bunch of us have come together for all your questions. Whether you're someone with a disability, a gamer, a developer, none of the above, all of the above, hit us up. We can't promise to have all the answers, but we can promise some good chat :)

We have a wide range of perspectives covered - platform, AAA, indie, gamer with disabilities, specialist. All of us working towards raising the bar for inclusion of people with disabilities in gaming.

We are...

u/ladie_au_pair - Tara Voelker, gaming & disability community co-lead, Xbox

u/Shesh1 - David Tisserand, user research process manager, Ubisoft

u/thehen - Henry Hoffman, creative director, Fiddlesticks

u/cherryrae& - Cherry Thompson AKA Cherryrae, streamer & advocate

u/ianhamilton__ - Ian Hamilton, accessibility specialist

Proofs -







Comments: 268 • Responses: 39  • Date: 

JoyOfText59 karma

Thank you for answering questions, this is a topic that's very important to me!

It's mostly board games I play with my family, and there doesn't seem to be as much interest in this topic there. Why do you think this is the case and what can be done to improve things?

ianhamilton__28 karma

It's a smaller industry, but interest has exploded in the past year or two, largely due to the work of a single advocate - Michael Heron, AKA meeplelikeus (http://meeplelikeus.co.uk). There has been an ongoing project for the past few years to get some best practice guidelines together, which he is now leading (http://meeplelikeus.co.uk/tabletop-accessibility-guidelines/).

It's an interesting field, there's some crossover with digital game accessibility but some really fundamental differences too. But the really interesting thing for me is that the field is dominated by a pretty small range of publishers, so it wouldn't take much progress with a few key players for there to be really fundamental change across the whole industry.

Kittenmancer26 karma

I found this site very interesting for accessibility reviews of board games, they also have a recommender function.

ianhamilton__7 karma

Yeah that's the one :)

BeardedBatsard28 karma

Have you had a chance to work with or experience the new Xbox adaptive controller? It looks like something that can revolutionize gaming for those with disabilities.

cherryrae_60 karma

(note: I'm being rate limited by reddit so I can't reply as fast or as frequently as I'd like, apologies! I'll try to get to any replies I miss later)

Yes! I have the adaptive controller and it's pretty amazing. The thing that feels most exciting to me as someone with progressive disabilities is the sheer ability to customize it and change the set up as time goes on or even depending on my fluctuating impairments. Right now my disabilities are at a point where I can largely still use a regular controller save for a few difficult to do actions (holding down lower triggers, pressing stick buttons etc) and I can use the XAC in copilot mode with a regular controller without even the need for added switches. Yet, in the future and on 'bad' days I have the options there to use it even more.

The other thing that is most special to me is its design... it's as beautiful and sleek as any gaming peripheral. For too long as disabled people we're stuck with hacked or institutionalized hardware... I want beautiful things too. There's no reason adaptive tech has to be ugly and an eyesore in my home, yet it often is. This along with it being a mainstream company doing this is what feels most special to me as a disabled gamer (:

Gommel_Nox5 karma

I had a bit of trouble with mine just because I couldn't find a surface hard enough for me to be able to push the buttons. The Zephyr kind of sunk into my lap when I put it there, and when I put it on a table next to me I couldn't reach all of them.

However, if I had a bunch of ability switches I could rig something up and just set the controller to the side. Unfortunately ability switches can sometimes be expensive. What I do find most promising is that it integrates with the quadstick

OneSwitch6 karma

use I couldn't find a surface hard enough for me to be able to push the buttons. The Zephyr kind of sunk into my lap when I put it there, and when I put it on a table next to me I couldn't reach all of them.

However, if I had a bunch of ability switches I could rig something up and just set the controller to the side. Unfortunately ability switches can sometimes be expensive. What I do find most promising is that it integrates with the quadstick

Trabasacks are good, and Maxcess boards.... Worth a try before you buy if you can. Re. accessibility switches... I knocked up a couple of guides here:

https://switchgaming.blogspot.co.uk/2018/05/accessibility-switch-for-6-7-8.html and http://www.oneswitch.org.uk/art.php?id=57 (DIY switches for £6 ish).

A friend Gavin Philips posted this super cheap switch using old CDs: http://www.instructables.com/id/CD-Switch/

cherryrae_3 karma

I find even a lap table helps me hugely (one meant for laptops or writing or what have you) cheap and available a lot of places. Also, comfy and cute because they're not specifically made to be adaptive (; YMMV tho

Gommel_Nox2 karma

Yeah it's a bit more difficult for me because I'm a no handed gamer, and a lot of what i do is with my arms; usually hitting buttons or pushing a joystick with my hand controlled by the shoulder, as opposed to the wrist or elbow

cherryrae_2 karma

Right, so there's a bit of directional force behind it, I hear ya. Would mounting it with one of the mounts help?

Gommel_Nox2 karma

I imagine it would but a more practical solution would be to DIY some sort of switch array sitting around my chair where I can manipulate all of the buttons on the controller that way instead of having to look & push on the buttons directly.

Do you know if Microsoft will be selling compatible switches?

ianhamilton__3 karma

They aren't making any, I'm not sure whether they're going to sell third party switches through the xbox store or just link out to other people's stores

ianhamilton__30 karma

It's part of a long line of similar devices. It's less of a controller and more of an adaptor, a way to replace bits of a controller that don't work for you with your own custom solutions tailored to your own needs.

Where it differs from what's already out there is firstly that it includes a few inputs out of the box, so for example the common use case of wanting to replace a couple of inputs (e.g. triggers, L3/R3) with big external buttons is possible for many people without the usual outlay of having to pay to buy the buttons. Combining it with co-pilot amplifies this, you're free to replace as many or as few of the input as you want. Then throw all of that in together with a $99 retail price and you have something that is astoundingly affordable compared to anything else currently available. Reducing the financial barrier to entry is hugely important.

Another way it differs in that it does not look and feel home made, or look and feel like a medical device. It feels like a premium Xbox product. It may seem like a minor aesthetic thing, but it equates to being treated on an equal basis, a customer of equal value, playing through a desirable product rather than a workaround.

And the really big one for me at least is that it is Microsoft who is doing it. The last time a console manufacturer made disability specific hardware was the Nintendo hands free controller in the 80s. Making hardware is a really big endeavour, not something that you enter into lightly. So it's a really powerful statement of intent for the whole industry really, an indication of how valued accessibility really is becoming. It will help other companies move forwards with their own different accessibility efforts.

Gommel_Nox3 karma

I don't know why but that's giving me a 404

apocriva10 karma

What are some games that you'd say are the gold-standard for accessibility options? What are the features that really stand out for accessibility?

ladie_au_pair8 karma

I would say that we’re still looking for a true gold standard, but there are a several games there are great in several areas. Uncharted 4 is a great example of providing options for gamers with mobility impairments. Way of the Passive Fist has a ton of customization options that are great too.

Really - most games are still working on the basics. Remappble controls. GOOD subtitles (labeling your speaker, decent size text, contrast with the background, etc), controller options and things like aim assist. So for me stand out games really kill it at hitting these.

Shesh17 karma

I concur with ladie_au_pair, people may have particular games in mind but in general the work Microsoft, EA Sports and Naughty Dog are doing is an inspiration to me. As per the accessibility features I’d love to see implemented on every game I’d say: - Subtitles (adjustable font size, background, speaker name, captions). These positively affects a lot of deaf/HoH players and people in situational conditions (on a train without headphones, with a baby sleeping nearby, etc.) - Colourblind-friendly or the option to tweak the colour palette of important UI elements. Because 8% of males are colourblind - Full control remapping on all platforms. Because this helps players with mobility impairment find the best layout for them Beyond those there are plenty of other options, but if all games implemented the three above as standard practice it would be a good starting point to build up on.

ianhamilton__5 karma

I'd throw one more into the mix too! 25 million americans have impaired vision even when wearing glasses. Decent text size :)

ianhamilton__3 karma

I would say none. I haven't come across any game that is anywhere close to as accessible as it could or should be. Compared to other industries, it's still early days. We're still I think a year or two away from seeing the first games that manage to get all the basics right, let alone reach a gold standard.

There are however ever growing numbers of developers who are doing really nice work, making great progress on individual features or groups of features. Traditionally the innovation has come from the indie sector where individuals with an interest have more freedom to implement what they want, but it has been really encouraging to see in the past couple of years in particular the AAA end of the industry starting to make some really significant progress too.

ElTres10 karma

What advice would you have to young, aspiring game designers about how to ensure that accessibility plays a meaningful role in their processes?

ianhamilton__14 karma

100% agree with everyone else's comments!

Also if there's just one single piece of advice I would be simply to do something. Do anything. It may sound trite but it's important to keep that in mind. So often I've seen companies, outside of game development as well as within, who see a huge mountain of possibilities in front of them and out of fear of not being able to do everything, decide to do nothing. That's the worst possible thing you can do.

There's no way that anyone can ever nail everything on their first attempt, there's no shame in that. Just find yourself some quick wins and low hanging fruit, there are always some. Anything you do, no matter how small, will simply make your product a better experience for more people. You'll learn from that experience, take important lessons through on to your next project. And so long as each iteration is always a step forward rather than a step back, you can't fail to get to a good place.

Gommel_Nox4 karma

I will also be here and willing to answer questions. I'm also a disability advocate and stream under the name AccessibleGamer, I also help mod the r/disabledgamers sub as well as the AccessibleStreamers Discord for gamers and streamers with disabilities.

Are you guys having a good Global Accessibility Awareness Day? And how do you guys feel about the new Microsoft controller? When they sent mine to me they called that the Zephyr, but I think the new name kind of isolates us further and I was wondering what you guys think about that?

ianhamilton__2 karma

Good GAAD? My soul and motivations have now been sufficiently topped up to see me through the rest of the year :)

litknitkait4 karma

What are the top concepts y'all would like to see game development professors teach their students for accessibility best practices? Especially for students whose first language is not English.

ianhamilton__1 karma

London South Bank University have a really lovely approach of teaching it through real work experience of working with a charity that supplies gaming tech to kids' hospices. So the students work directly with the kids in the hospices on games that work well with the tech that the charity supplies. Meaning the students learn about accessibility software and hardware in the context of real world application and gain experience of working directly with the audience too. Then on top of that specific project there's also general teaching on the principles and techniques, and accessibility is part of the marking scheme for all projects throughout the entire degree.

You can learn more about it here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nf8PIF0RneA

polerin4 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA, I think it is important enough that I actually signed up for reddit just to participate!

I have a couple sorta related questions, both surrounding VR:

1) I'm an aspiring developer, and an ex-martial artist. The idea of room scale VR where people can move and exist in the space is extremely tantalizing to me, but I'm very aware of the fact that there are significant barriers to accessibility in that paradigm. Do you have any suggestions that might help me better design my games to do progressive enhancement for varying levels of mobility and physical ability? Are there things I might be able to do for users with visual or audio processing difficulty which would make VR more accessible?

2) For stationary VR games, other than vertigo and vr sickness reducing measures, what things would make my game more accessible? There doesn't seem to be a whole bunch of guidelines in this space yet, and I really want to try the best I can to make gaming a place to escape and live the fantastic. For example, I know proper caption placement, size, formatting, and contents (ie labeling the speaker) are important for on-screen games. I'm not sure how to approach that issue when the player's view can't be directed to the speaker, and significant obstruction of the view can cause nausea and tracking issues?

Regardless, thank you again!

ianhamilton__2 karma

Some of the people on this AMA together with some others who aren't got together to collate a gamasutra post covering both of those questions, so I'll just link out to that - https://gamasutra.com/blogs/IanHamilton/20161031/284491/VR__accessibility.php

P.S. love that you used the term progressive enhancement, that's an absolutely applicable concept :)

garcialo3 karma

Have any advice for people interested in getting a job as an Accessibility Lead with a gaming company (similar to what Karen Stevens is doing)?

I'm currently doing something similar as a Sr. PM at an eCommerce company, but at some point I want to make the jump over. What things could I do now to help me later?

ladie_au_pair3 karma

Karen is literally a first of her kind! I would say first step is becoming aware of what can cause friction for gamers with disabilities and researching. I would totally watch the GaConf talks (this year’s being posted soon).

Karen got her job by literally showing the need and collecting feedback. I would love to say “here’s your straight forward path” but there isn’t one. Truth is even at Xbox we don’t actually have a Karen.

jetuser2 karma

You're our karen /u/ladieaupair

ianhamilton__3 karma

yeah but Karen gets paid and full time hours to dedicate to it :)

jetuser2 karma

I'm all for giving her a raise!

ladie_au_pair5 karma

I support giving me a raise as well

ianhamilton__1 karma

So what's your line manager's email address Tara? No reason for asking. Just a random question.

AskMeAbout_Sharks3 karma

Have you ever had problems getting up to 88mph to activate the flux capacitor?

ianhamilton__2 karma

I don't even drive. My flux is distinctly lacking capacity.

AskMeAbout_Sharks1 karma

How do you expect to thwart future or past Biff's plans if you can't even get up to 88?

ianhamilton__4 karma

Well, it's after 2015 now, we're officially living in the future. And as I wasn't able to thwart his plans, the following year he became president.

MetaGigahertz3 karma

First, wonderful job on what you are doing! You really are an inspiration to disabled gamers everywhere.

I have two disabilities myself: autism (PDD-NOS) and epilepsy. While the epilepsy is well controlled under medication, the fear that a game might cause me to have a seizure is always in the back of my head. It always makes me cautious of what games I play. Is there a specific standard game devs use to make games less prone to cause seizures, and how is a good way to find games that use this standard?

ianhamilton__12 karma

There's no way to be sure that any game is epilepsy safe, the concept of epilepsy safe doesn't really exist. But there is an internationally accepted standard of what constitutes a reasonable level of risk, based on common triggers, thresholds for pattern and flashes based on frequency and what percentage of your vision they take up.

The standard is called ISO 9241-391:2016 (snappy name) and is available here - https://www.iso.org/standard/56350.html

You have to pay to download that, but there's a freely available layman's version available here - http://gameaccessibilityguidelines.com/avoid-flickering-images-and-repetitive-patterns/

There's a test used to measure compliance with that standard, called the Harding test. A decent chunk of the big publishers, people like Ubisoft and Microsoft Studios, have internal requirements to comply with the Harding test.So that's your safest bet really, to stick with the big publishers. Again it's no guarantee at all that any game will be safe, but it is your best bet for minimising risk.

ladie_au_pair3 karma

My memory is a little fuzzy here, but I’m pretty sure Microsoft/Sony/Nintendo have a guideline that you must follow if you want your game published on their consoles.

Nintendo’s, from what I remember, was the most well defined and put a lot of seizure warnings in titles even then.

That being sad, I’ve worked on titles that were published and then I was later contacted and told that one of my titles failed the Harding test. I was mortified.

I think we really need to serve of gamers with epilepsy better. I don’t have a good way to give you this info right now. That sucks. But I will keep this in mind!

MetaGigahertz5 karma

Hm, alright then. It sounds like it's improving, but not quite there yet. Thanks for both answers!

ianhamilton__1 karma


Gommel_Nox2 karma

How can I become more involved in the movement for accessibility for gamers with disabilities?

cherryrae_2 karma

Here's my experience in a nutshell: I make sure to tweet my experience with every single game I play if I have time and energy. I use the hashtags #a11y and #gamedev and #indiedev if appropriate. I talk about it constantly on my streams when I play new games (and as I continue to play them - especially if I'm struggling).

I also stay connected with the industry via those hashtags and keep talking and in touch with other advocates and devs who are working hard to make their games accessible.

Social media was where I found my voice but it moved from there... it took a minute though, and consistency. I also found a voice in having empathy FOR developers and their passion and hard work. I feel strongly that empathy goes both ways.

If you want to chat about it or ever want your #a11y tweets amplified don't be afraid to @ me on twitter. Also when discussing a game's accessibility or the barriers you face don't be afraid to @ key developers (as long as you're being professional/friendly of course, which I know you are - but for anyone else reading).

mindfulgaminguk1 karma

Thank you for your reply, especially regarding being open about personal experiences of games. For me there is definitely a sense of not feeling like I have the right (I guess, I can't find a better phrase for it) to speak out - even though it is something I am passionate about doing.

I have a voice, I guess it's time to use it.

ianhamilton__3 karma

Yes, use it. We tried hard with game accessibility guidelines to ensure cognitive had an equal seat at the table, as across all industries its always the most neglected area of accessibility.

It's no different in game development, it has less visibility and understanding, in part because of conditions that impact people's ability to speak up, in part due to the stigmas attached that make people who are able to speak up uncomfortable about doing so, in part because so much of it falls under the banner of invisible conditions, and in part because it's something that people have a hard time picturing themselves in someone else's shoes over.

So yes, if you feel in a position to speak up please please please do, there's huge need, and developers really do want to learn about how they can help.

Are you able to share any more here about yourself and what you do? and what kind of barriers you come up against and in what kind of games?

ianhamilton__2 karma

A really fantastic way to help would be to build a community of streamers with disabilities and uhhh oh wait :)

I agree with just keep shouting about it, louder and in more places. Build relationships with more developers, spread word in more ways. Speaking at events is a great way to do that, especially local ones where you can easily get personal relationships going.

PumpyGrump2 karma

What can I do as a game developer to make my games more accesable to all players?

ianhamilton__2 karma

It depends on your mechanic, but a good starting point is gameaccessibilityguidelines.com. You'll find a ton of stuff on there that you're already doing that you had no idea what useful for accessibility; make sure none of that is lost. You'll also find plenty that could be very easily done, quick wins, low hanging fruit. Aim for them, especially the ones under "basic".

You'll also see things that aren't compatible with the concept of your game. That's totally fine, no game can be for everyone, some kind of barriers must be present. Rather than aiming for all players, it's an optimisation process to make it as enjoyable as possible for as many people as possible.

You'll also see some things, particularly under advanced, that are unrealistic to take on at the stage of development you're at. That's also totally fine. Don't be put off by not being able to do everything, just do what you can; every little thing you can do just means your game will be better for more people.

Outside of guidelines, if there's something you're unsure about, just ask for for some expert help. Lots of people will be very happy to. And take every opportunity to run what you've got by people with disabilities, particularly early in development, and watch and learn and reassess based on what you discover.

newocean2 karma

What is the biggest disability gamers face?

This is a hugely interesting topic to me.

I think the most common disability I have heard of that affects gamers is colorblindness. (Which my own father suffers from terribly). The best workaround I know if is to offer shapes along with anything related to where you might use colors. LoL seems to have done this pretty well. Could be better, imo.

Turn based games I am also told have a lot of interest in the disabled community, especially where someone might not have great motor control. I will be honest and say I do not know much about the types of controls these people require.

I have a particular soft spot in my heart for the deaf community. I know some sign language but have not used it in like 20 years. (Yes, I have a name in sign language, given to me by a very cool little boy many years ago!) I like when games give visual clues - best example I can think of being Dont Starve or DST where there is a screen vibration for things like Deerclopse or even the things the characters say warning you when something big is coming.

I am sure I missed something else... but can you give examples of things done well in games?

ianhamilton__5 karma

In terms of prevelance there are conditions that are more common than colourblindness. Colourblindness is uncommon in females, so affects around 4-5% of the general population. Uncorrectable vision loss, i.e. some difficulty seeing even when wearing glasses, is more like 8%. Profound difficulty reading, i.e. lowest measured level of reading ability that means you would have difficulty reading a bedtime story to your child or difficulty filling out a job application - 14% of adults in the USA and the UK. You don't hear about reading difficulty though as there's such as strong stigma attached, people generally don't feel comfortable admitting it or speaking about it publicly.

"disabled community" doesn't quite fit here, as what's in common is people encountering barriers, not the kind of barriers that people enounter. So turn based strategy games are great for some people, exclusionary for other people. If the barriers you encounter relate to timing and precision, turn based strategy games could be great. If your fine and gross motor ability is good but you have difficulty with things that put demand on memory, planning and decision making, then they may not be such a good choice.

That's a key point really, that every game doesn't have to be for everyone. It can't be for everyone, if it was it would have no barriers, no challenge, and therefore would not be a game, it would be a toy or a narrative. So it's about avoiding unnecessary exclusion, ensuring that if a game should be well suited to someone's tastes and abilities that they aren't unnecessarily locked out.

stumro2 karma

Is it possible to make a colour blind mode or overlay that will filter certain wavelengths or light to have an effect like the enchroma lenses? That would be awesome for the colour blind gamers out there.

ianhamilton__3 karma

There are colourblind modes that work in a similar way, but in general it really isn't a great way to approach colourblindness. What you should aim for as a first port of call is to avoid relying on colour alone as a way to communicate and differentiate information; Hue by u/thehen is an example of that.

There's info here on how to approach catering for colourblindness: http://gameaccessibilityguidelines.com/hue-colorblind-mode

The glasses themselves aren't what they're made out to be, the videos and commentary about people seeing colour for the first time set really unrealistic expectations, the glasses categorically don't let people see colour for the first time. They're no use at all if you see no colour, and also no use at all if you have significant or complete loss of a particular frequency, all they can do is enhance what colour vision is already there, and because they do so by effectively wearing sunglasses for the other frequencies, they only work in the right lighting conditions too.

shrapnelasylum2 karma

Can you tell me what you've worked on for Deaf gamers? This is a topic super close to me and I'm super happy to hear about your work!

ianhamilton__3 karma

Personally, as David can attest to I continually harass developers about the state of captioning in games at every available opportunity. In person, in conference talks, in writing, etc. Here's an example, a bunch of us (including u/ladie_au_pair) worked on this post about it, including a bit about captioning in VR - http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/IanHamilton/20150715/248571/How_to_do_subtitles_well__basics_and_good_practices.php Progress is starting to be made now, e.g. options for letterboxing in god of war and assassins creed, text size in walking dead and hitman and life is strange, speaker colours and captions for background sounds in tomb raider, speaker names in assassins creed. I don't think it will be very long until someone pulls all of those disparate good practices together into a single robust system, and for that to then spread as standard good practice. The once the basics have been covered the real fun can start, the innovation and R&D, working on surpassing other industries instead of working on catching up with them :)

Tullyswimmer2 karma

What's been the biggest challenge your team has faced when trying to make gaming more accessible? Is there something in particular that companies just say "no way is that possible" time any time you ask?

ladie_au_pair13 karma

For me it’s always that no one thinks about it in the process until too late. Accessibility early on, inclusion early on, is not resource costly when you plan for it. When you add it on after the fact or retro fit, it’s a terrible experience for gamers and devs. It’s soooooooo expensive.

And normally for me people PANIC when you talk about making a game blind accessible. They just literally have no idea what to do. But then I show them videos of Sightless Kombat or Superblindman and then it clicks.

thehen7 karma

The thought of making games blind accessible seemed borderline-impossible to me too, until I attended this years GAConf. Once I understood how screen readers could work, it all made sense :)

rkingett3 karma

I wonder how so many people can not know at least the basics of a screen reader, even today? Is it because web designers have never thought about it before or is it because everybody sighted assumes al blind people just talk to their computers?

ianhamilton__2 karma

I think it's just due to relating it to your own experiences. If you rely on your eyes to do something, then imagine not having your eyes, it's natural to assume that you would no longer be able to do that thing you used your eyes for (like reading text or understanding the layout of a screen). Echoing what others have said most people don't personally know people who use screenreaders, so imagining the concept yourself would be quite a leap. But that's something that awareness raising and education can change.

VirtuosiMedia2 karma

Are there resources for or examples of developing 3d open world games that can be played by the blind? As a developer of a text-based game that has been played by some in the blind community and looking to expand to other types of games, anything you could share or ideas you might have would be appreciated.

ianhamilton__1 karma

Second Life is a good reference, they've done loads of cool blind accessibility work. I particularly like the virtual guide dog functionality :)

Also tjpunk981 on twitter is another great person to speak to, he's a blind call of duty player

John_Asan1 karma

Do you like rock and roll?

ianhamilton__3 karma

Not really, he was pretty bland. There were far more imaginative GI Joe figures.

KnowsTheLaw1 karma

I play board games with my friend who has cerebral palsy, non spastic, we are in our 30's. Any tips for playing board games with players of different abilities?

1) biggest issue is if the decision making is hard, he has difficulty

2) poor spatial sense, can't rotate something 90 degrees in his head and then apply it to the board, if the piece is rotated irl, he's ok

3) we play some coop, but this has been less fun recently as I have to carry a lot

4) he is fine with losing at euros, but doesn't like losing 1v1 in battles, area control is a mess generally

Games that work: castles of burgundy, roll for the galaxy, above and below are examples.

We play around 4 hours a week.

ianhamilton__1 karma

On a slightly different angle, games that might work well, this might be of use - https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1nrNa0B_B_6IIxo576f2ydkkR-yqkAobLLPnOVTG5pYs/edit#gid=0

Sanark111 karma

How would you suggest getting production and devs on board with a11y?

ianhamilton__1 karma

It depends a bit on the individual and the individual studio, differnet people have different misconceptions and different companies have different organisations and cultural barriers. Depends alot on the size of the company too, the kind of things that get int he way of people getting onboard in a AAA are quite different to in a 3 person indie. So it really helps to have a broad bank of info available so you can address different people's different blockers.

I 100% agree with everything else said here.. guest speakers, making sure people with similar interests know each other exist and can support each other, showing the human case, the business case, giving exposure to the audience. I worked with David to collate a few of those things into a talk, aimed specifically at giving people info to help break down misconceptions that their colleagues may have that get in the way of them getting onboard - https://channel9.msdn.com/Shows/Level-Up/Gaming-and-Disability-Boot-Camp-Myths-and-Reasons

Alexander_Mejia1 karma

I'm a game developer working on a Completely Voice driven narrative game called STARSHIP COMMANDER in VR. I was wondering who can I talk to to find game testers who may be visually impaired or have a hard time using motion controls to get feedback to make my game more accessible?

I'll be at DreamHack Austin in 2 weeks in the Indie Zone and would love to meet anybody who works with gamers with disabilities or someone with a disability to try my game and give feedback.

ianhamilton__1 karma

Another great resource is local disability groups, organisations and meetups, they're all full of people who are very keen to help. Any decent size town or city will have them, Austin has a ton and no doubt your home town will too.

Hypatia4151 karma

My daughter loves games, specifically Undertale. She'd love to play it. I got through to Mettaton, but it was more effort than I wanted to put in. Both her older brothers have finished it.

Trouble is, she has low vision. She has great color vision but needs to have standard print almost to her nose in order to read it. Also, due to the specific nature of her vision loss, tracking movement is tricky. On the upside, she's exceptionally committed to achieving her goals and she has great reflexes.

I wish I could have a modified version of the game which played the (fantastic!) music at standard speed, but significantly slowed down the attacks. Optimally we could have some config file where we could set the speed, a gui would be sweet but unnecessary.

Should I approach the dev, Toby Fox? Would that be an unreasonable request or very difficult? One part of the game that may not work with the simple solution is the fight with Sans... maybe Mettaton too. I'm not sure. I'm a programmer myself, but I hadn't really approached the problem yet. I mostly do mathematics, not games.

I'm annoyed with her brothers for calling her a "secondary". In upbraiding them, I reminded them she would play in an instant if she could.

Can she?

ianhamilton__2 karma

Defiintely approach him, he cares a great deal about accessibility. It is a good possibility that it will not be possible for this game, but as Cherry said even if that's the case, he will currently be working on a new game....

elzeus1 karma

Will mice and keyboard ever be enabled on the console platform level system wide? Any thoughts on providing a few of the controllers to accessibility streamers to help build awareness about the device? They already do some pretty great things without such a device, but with it they could take their gaming to another level.

ianhamilton__2 karma

Already been done! If you scroll up to the "proof" section of the original post the first link there is a photo of Cherry with one, she did a stream about it on launch day which you can watch here - https://www.twitch.tv/videos/262271462

Xbox worked with a significant number of gamers and organisations throughout the development, so there are already quite a few of them the wild, including in the hands of streamers. People just haven't been allowed to talk about it yet that's all, not until it was properly announced.

DepressingSaladDress1 karma

How do you guys actually find the things to accomidate? Also how would you make accessibility stuff for someone who isnt fully missing limbs but maybe have some sort of muscle disability.

ianhamilton__3 karma

We all work on software, there are three main ways;

  1. work to best practice guidelines, such as gameaccessibilityguidelines.com
  2. get expert advice specific to your game
  3. involve players with disabilities in the design process, through playtesting, user research, beta questionnaires, forum requests etc

As far as the new Xbox controller goes, that came about through 2 and 3.

"Muscle stuff" is a bit vague, but if you're talking about things like limited strength or precision simple considerations like aim assist and being able to turn off or reduce QTEs can make a big difference.

OneSwitch1 karma

Scatter gun questions for anyone (hello all)....

  1. Can you see a standard for labelling for accessibility features coming about industry wide? Any thoughts on how that could happen in a manageable way?
  2. What would you love to see happen next in the world of the Xbox?
  3. What do you imagine the world of accessible gaming will be like in 10 years time?
  4. What's one of your favourite accessibility features in a game and why?

ElTres4 karma

Not part of the AMA, obviously, but stay tuned to my upcoming PhD dissertation for a step in the right direction of #1 :D

ianhamilton__1 karma


ianhamilton__2 karma

One thing I don't think there's any legs at all in is labelling to say whether a game is accessible or not or how accessible a game is. Everoyne has different needs and comes up against different barriers, what's incredibly accessible for one person is 100% inaccessible for another, and the only thing that's relevant to you is how accessible it is to you, an average is of no relevance. But what I think there is absolutely value in is providing information on what kind of considerations are present. Just be a bit transparent, let people have the information they need to be able to come to their own conclusions. Even something as simple as gamecritics' recent addition of includnig a screenshot of the control settings in every review can go a really long way.

And then if you can expand that further into allowing people to filter lists of games based on the considerations that are present... Steam already allows this for captions, itch.io has made some inroads with other considerations. There are still some issues to be resolved around how to manage accuracy of self reported considerations, but there's a solid need, it's IMO work putting some decent effort into solving.

ianhamilton__2 karma

What to see next... there's now a cheap easy way to connect accessibility switches. For $100 you can pick up a device that even includes an accessibility switch. There's a piece missing from the puzzle though; that's the system Ui being navigable using one or two switches, without any joystick or d-pad.

It's standard functionality on other platforms, bringing it over to xbox would be a huge boon to the wider accessibility landscape. Games aside, having a cheap set top box that allows you to watch movies, browse TV channels, run Skype and so on just through using a single button mounted to a wheelchair headrest would be incredible. And that platform is now so so close to that point. Just need to make it happen.