Monday, August 10, 2015

GJG Blog Interview #4 - Brian Conklin

As a precursor to the game accessibility article that I wrote, which will be published on on September 3, I would like to showcase this additional content on game accessibility. This additional content wasn't able to make it to my email in time for me to include it in my IDG Connect article, but I feel it is necessary to include this as valuable content for this blog. 

I present to my blog readers an email interview I had with Brian Conklin of Ablegamers. 

Steven Vitte: What role does technology play in game accessibility? Can you explain how technology plays a part in the development of game accessibility tools? 

Brian Conklin: Technology is essential for the areas of game accessibility that cannot be solved with game design alone. Developers can create alternative control schemes or colorblind modes for games, but there isn't a way to program a game for someone who needs head tracking technology to interact with your game. The game developer can only allow for an environment that allows users to use their own best devices for their gaming experiences.
Steven: What kind of hardware and technology are used for game accessibility? 

Brian: The Adroit Switchblade, the Quadstick, Stinkyboards, Track IR, text to speech software, and nearly any other piece of hardware. There are ways to hack and utilize almost every type of input device to be a gaming controller.

Example of a controller for game accessibility
Steven: When it comes to entrepreneurs and investors, have these kinds of people approached Ablegamers in wanting to invest in game accessibility programs? 

Brian:  Ablegamers is approached by many different volunteers in many different areas. As our organizations's approach to accessibility is multi-tiered and focuses on many different areas, the specializations of  volunteers to help in our mission is just as broad. We've worked with many groups and individuals on creating accessible technology, such as the Adroit Switchblade and the Quadstick.

Steven: How has Ablegamers handled game accessibility throughout the years? How much has Ablegamers relied on technology specifically? 

Brian: Game accessibility has had an ebb and flow as game technology has advanced. While computing technology has improved, the tech for accessibility needs to reach the same levels. Some of these issues are solved through additional game design options (such as more colorblind options, options for mouse acceleration in game) but new developments in peripheral technology are always needed.

Steven: What has been the toughest challenge concerning game accessibility? Which disabled audience has been the most challenging to cater to? (mental or physical disability)  

Brian: It always falls on what game developers have time and money to implement. A gamer may have the tech they need to play, but games actually having the options to make use of those are always the toughest.

Steven: Have there been any recent new developments in game accessibility regarding technology? What's in store for the future? 

Brian: Sony actually did a huge update with the PlayStation interface for accessibility. Built into the operating system of the PS4, the PS3, and the Vita, gamers can now completely customize their controller button layouts by swapping what each button input is seen as by the system, as well as zoom into specific areas on screen or convert the colors of the games to help with colorblind issues.

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