Tuesday, August 25, 2015

GJG Interview #5 - Brian Bors

The Accessibility Foundation
This is another interview that unfortunately didn't make it to my email inbox in time for me to add to my IDG Connect article on game accessibility. However, the content of this interview was simply too good to let go to waste as you will get a good idea on how game accessibility functions. This is an interview with Brian Bors of The Accessibility Foundation, a game accessibility organization based in the Netherlands. You can view the organization's website below.

Steven Vitte: What types of hardware and technology do you use to make game accessibility programs and products? 

Brian Bors: Game-Accessibility.com doesn't make games or products to make these games more accessible. We write articles on how to make games more accessible and offer a platform for gamers to review games their accessibility.

Steven: How many game accessibility events do you hold each year? How big are the turnouts for these events?

Brian: Last year we had about 7 "events". Some are really small events where we simply take a few consoles and laptops and try out some games with people with disabilities. On one occasion we only had three gamers but we where able to give them very good support and guidance and we learned a lot ourselves. Our biggest event was the accessibility gamejam where we had a turnout of about 50 game developers, gamers and press. 

A Special One-Handed Xbox Controller
Steven: Can you provide any stats or figures on the scientific studies on game accessibility? Is there anything noteworthy?

Brian: We ourselves have published articles and papers on our scientific studies on game accessibility. See for example:

Wing chin has furthermore done a scientific study on the effectiveness of the game accessibility guidelines:

But it's a really niche field to study. You might have a better off searching here: http://www.gamasutra.com/search/?search_text="game+accessibility"

Steven: How much of a role does technology play in game accessibility? How exactly has technology helped disabled gamers?

Brian: Technology has brought new input mechanisms for physically disabled gamers. This usually takes the form of custom made controllers.

Steven: What have been the bigger challenges for game accessibility technology, as far as gamers go? (physically or mentally disabled)

Brian: The fact that most physically disabled gamers have different needs makes it hard if not impossible to make a "one size fits all" controller. So most controllers are custom made or only serve a very narrow niche (for example one handed controllers). The market is too small to make it financially attractive to create such controllers on a large scale which makes drives up the price for such controllers.

Steven: When it comes to investors and entrepreneurs, how much interest do they have in investing in projects associated with game accessibility? How do they profit from a good cause like this?

Brian: Game developers can certainly profit by making the game accessible to a broader audience if the investment is small enough. For example: Making a FPS accessible to blind gamers would probably be a huge investment for only a small audience and might not be profitable. But making sure your MUD can be read by screenreaders is only a small investment and MUD's are hugely popular among the blind so that is profitable.

Steven: What is the game accessibility scene basically like in Europe? 

Brian: Small. It mainly consists of small non-profit teams that want to push for awareness among game developers. But it certainly is a growing scene.

We have just recently launched the new www.game-accessibility.com website. We hope doing our part helps grow the scene.

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