Games Games Games
Here is another update. First we have added three games by Mitrhil Games to the archive: Haunted Factory, Space Darts and Game Master. We also added the new PBX addon Pinball Party Pack. Finally we have added the latest two copies of Audyssey Magazine. Click this link to go to the Audyssey Magazine archive.
The reason that we are a bit slow on updates, aside from the usual PhD and life stuff, is that we have been very busy promoting and disseminating the game accessibility. A couple of weeks ago there were two major events concerning game accessibility. The first was at this years ICCHP convention in Linz (Austria), where several (academic) projects, including AGRIP Audio Quake and Universally Accessible Space Invaders (to be added to the archive soon), were presented in a 2 hour session. Matthew Atkinson of AGRIP gave a presentation about his theories and findings in the AudioQuake project. Guidelines for game accessibility were also presented here.
The other major event was Develop Brighton in (where else) Brighton (England), where the IGDA Game Accessibility Special Group held a full-day tutorial with presentations and hands-on gaming events. Among the participants were Michelle Hinn (IGDA), Thomas Westin and Goran Lange (PinInteractive), Dimitris Grammenos and Giannis Georgalis (Universally Accessible Space Invaders), Barrie Ellis (OneSwitch.org.uk), yours truly (AudioGames.net / Accessibility.nl), Eelke Folmer (Ass. Professor, University of Reno) and Jonathan Chetwynd (Peepo.co.uk). Michelle talked about the field of game accessibility, I held a general presentation on audio games and blind accessible game design, Thomas Westin showed some nifty things with games controlled with your mental abilities (using brainwaves), Goran talked about the future of accessible educational games, and Dimitris and Giannis shared their experiences and possible future steps in the Universally Accessible Games project. And to end with a bang, Eelke showed some new insights to accessible game design (also in relation with usability design) and also possible guidelines. In the audience was none other than game veteran Ernest Adams himself. Ernest is about to publish his new book (http://tinyurl.com/h9b26) which will feature an appendix on (more) accessible game design. Go grab a copy when it's out.
One newsitem I am very proud to announce is that of the "GDC Accessibility Idols". The Game Developers Conference (GDC) is the biggest game design related conference in the world (and no, the E3 is a consumer expo where all new and future games are on display - the E3 is where publishers go to sell their games (and designers go to get drunk, and the GDC is where designers go to get serious about their design (and eventually get drunk as well).
The IGDA GA-SIG (www.igda.org/accessibility) has managed to set up an amazing event for next years GDC and it is called "Accessibility Idols". For this event, very famous game designers are asked to design an accessible game. The games will then be presented before a huge crowd and judged by an expert panel. Also see this month's issue of E-Access Bulletin:
'Pop Idol' Style Contest Launched To Find Accessible Games.
A major international 'Pop Idol' style competition to find the best accessible computer games is being promoted as part of a range of activities launched this week to raise awareness of the needs of disabled gamers.
'Accessibility Idol', named after the popular TV show, is the brainchild of the US-based International Game Developers Association ( IGDA -http://www.igda.org/ ).
The contest will take the form of a show with finalists presenting their accessible game to an audience at the Game Developers Conference(http://www.gdconf.com/ ) in San Francisco, US, in March 2007. Some of the world's largest software and gaming companies have been signed up or invited,
although the association has not yet publicly confirmed participants' names.
The move follows the launch of two other contests launched this month to find innovative, accessible games: one from Retro Remakes, which redesigns classic video games ( http://www.retroremakes.com/comp2006/ ) and another from US-based free software company Donation Coder ( http://www.donationcoder.com/ ).
And last week, an IGDA special interest group hosted a day-long workshop on accessible gaming held as part of the Develop computer games conference held in Brighton, England (http://www.tandem-events.com/workshops.html#accessibility ). E-Access Bulletin will report in full on this workshop in our next issue.
So all in all, things are definitely moving on :) The document "What Blind Gamers Want The Game Industry To Know" (http://tinyurl.com/pjqgn) has been a huge hit so far among game developers, because for many it was their first encounter with blind gamers. If you would like to contribute in any way to game accessibility, please stop by http://www.game-accessibility.com and use the forums that share your wishes, thoughts and opinions. This website is always on the lookout for more content like articles and for instance audio recordings of what it's like to be blind and game. Please contact me or the email on the website if you want to contribute.
And if you are in or around Boston, why not visit the SIGGRAPH/SANDBOX Conference in Boston on 29-30 July? Here members of the IGDA GA-SIG will also be present to discuss and present the field of accessible games. And if you want to keep updates about where game accessibility will be discussed around the world, you only need to keep track of the following forum: http://www.game-accessibility.com/forum/viewforum.php?id=12
So much for now. Get gaming!