By Guest Blogger Steven Spohn, Editor-in-Chief, AbleGamers
For the past eight years, the AbleGamers Foundation has been diligently advocating for more accessibility in digital entertainment. We have reached out to video game developers and publishers alike, gone to conferences and expos and attended meetings at the headquarters of many AAA gaming studios. We gave the same speeches to anyone who would listen, and our message was clear – the disability community needs these options.
A few years ago, the responses we got from developers started to change. We no longer heard excuses about why games couldn’t afford to add more accessibility options, or how difficult it would be to do. We also stopped getting asked questions about why accessibility was important. Today, developers are recognizing the importance of the disabled gaming community. What we hear now is the overwhelming question of how games can be made more accessible.
On Wednesday, September 12th, that question was finally answered. Includification is a brand-new publication from The AbleGamers Foundation that includes numerous detailed explanations of common problems for gamers with disabilities, solutions for those problems, printable checklists, developer exercises and personal letters from industry insiders to the game industry.
The companion website, www.includification.com, holds all of the same great information without the fancy graphics and explanations. This website will be a resource for developers to find, at a glance, specific solutions to common and not so common problems.
We have been working on these guidelines for more than two years, and they have been seen by half a dozen major AAA gaming studios that all approved of our message. I honestly could not hold more gratitude in my heart for those who helped put this together.
These accessibility guidelines will serve as a roadmap to help developers reach out to the community of gamers with disabilities in ways I can’t even describe. The joy of helping someone get back to doing something they used to love doing so much, or try something for the first time that they are now able to do just like anyone else, is truly one of the greatest joys in life. I hope by reading these real world examples that developers can see how each and every accessibility option they add to their newest title helps real people in real situations.
Best of all, it was the developers that have become champions of accessibility who really helped put this paper together. We have an entire section right in front of the document that explains very clearly how adding accessibility is a benefit to everyone involved. All of the options suggested by the document help a wide range of people who want to play games, without harming anyone who doesn’t need the options. For those who need them, the options can be there to lend a hand, and those who do not need them will never even know they are there.
Video game accessibility is important for the more than 33 million people with disabilities in the United States who play video games, not to mention the countless others who live in countries throughout the world. It’s about time we laid all of our cards on the table and took accessibility to the next level. Together, we can make sure there are no barriers to fun.
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Steve Spohn is the Editor-in-Chief of AbleGamers and Outreach Chair for the AbleGamers Foundation. He has been interviewed as an expert in gaming with disabilities and assistive technologies by MSNBC, CNN, PC World, G4 and multiple international journals. Steve has traveled across the country as a speaker at various events including PAX East, Games for Health, Assistive Technology Centers, universities and many developer studios. In his off time, he is a web designer, gamer, writer, and his newest endeavor is learning Japanese. He holds degrees in Visual Communication, Information Technology, Web Design and Writing, with an MFA in Fiction Writing as his next goal. Steve is an active social media user and you can always find him on Twitter, Facebook and on AbleGamers forums.