This course is a first of its kind offering to the SIGCHI community, where PhD students, junior researchers, senior academics and game developers can come and learn about how to make games inclusive to the widest range of people, and in particular people with disabilities. The course will be a full day course consisting of two distinct halves. More details can be seen at the course website.
Morning Sessions: The Basics of Includification
In the introduction of the course, the instructors will introduce the audience to the different types of players that are out there waiting to play games! Instead of just presenting facts and figures, we will present real stories of players whose lives have been transformed by being able to have access to games.
These stories will then be related to the huge audience of gamers who are currently looking for games to play, and discussions about games that have already captured some of that audience through inclusive design with AbleGamers.
The morning sessions of the course will introduce individuals to the Includification guidelines (Barlet and Spohn, 2014) which have been developed through design practice by the AbleGamers Charity for making games more inclusive to people with disabilities.
We focus on the different types of inclusive features can be integrated into games by designers right from their initial game ideas through to delivery of their game to market.
These inclusive features will range from the very simple, such as having alternative configurations and remappable keys to more advanced techniques where participants will explore the challenges of difficulty settings, speed settings and specific design interventions such as targeting assists.
All of these discussions will reflect on the many challenging research questions that currently open regarding inclusivity in digital games.
Afternoon Session: Pushing the Includification Envelope
In the afternoon sessions the instructors will introduce participants to some of the most interesting challenges and exciting research opportunities that are on the horizon of gaming experiences.
We will present questions that have no answers in research or practice, such as the multitude of issues that are appearing due to the rise of Virtual Reality (VR) games. How do we make VR games more inclusive to people with visual disabilities? Can we draw on real world analogies to help us that were previously unavailable in traditional gaming? What about people who have difficulty reaching or grasping as happens in many VR environments? What are some of the challenges people will run into with current VR and where might we find inspiration for future solutions?
Participants will be divided into teams with the course instructors facilitating a series of design thinking activities to explore these bleeding edge areas, applying the knowledge that was gained in the morning sessions. Groups will think about different personas who will encounter accessibility problems in these new settings and will explore potential solutions. Groups will have the opportunity to playback their solutions to the group to get input from the other participants.
The AbleGamers Foundation will seek to self-publish a white paper on these sessions giving credit to all participants to demonstrate they are thinking about the most innovative areas on inclusive gaming.
Christopher Power is a Lecturer in Human Computer Interaction at the University of York and has been an accessibility researcher for over a decade. He brings a wealth of experience in course preparation and delivery, including continuing professional development courses on user experience and accessibility. Christopher has published extensively in accessibility with his publication record being available at: www.cs.york.ac.uk/~cpower/publications.html. Since January 2016 he has been the Vice President of the AbleGamers Foundation working to make games more inclusive for all players.
Mark Barlet is the Founder of the AbleGamers Foundation. When Mark discovered that one of his best friends could no longer play Everquest 2 due to accessibility problems, he started AbleGamers to be a driving force for change in the games industry. Through outreach with disabled communities, free consultancy with game companies, and grants to disabled gamers, AbleGamers now works with and advocates on behalf of gamers around the world to make sure there is a game for everyone. As part of the consultancy work of AbleGamers, Mark has written Includification: A Practical Guide to Game Accessibility (co-author Steve Spohn) to help make as many games as possible inclusive to the broadest group of people with disabilities.
Jessie Hall is a Senior Assistive Technology Specialist at the AbleGamers Charity, and is the first-ever AbleGamers Fellow. Located outside of Washington DC, Jessie leads the
Assistive Technology and Adaptive Gaming division at the AbleGamers Play Centre, where she manages the incoming of adaptive gaming equipment and tests out the newest releases. She also
participates in gamer assessments, where she analyzes how someone games, and provides recommendations on the best adaptive equipment for their specific need set. Most recently, Jessie has presented on video game accessibility at CSUN 2016 (Annual International Technology & Persons with Disabilities Conference).