At the Game Developers Conference (GDC) next month, I'm hosting a roundtable called "Beyond Graphics: Reaching the Visually Impaired Gamer". The goal is to educate game developers on the benefits of taking just a bit of time and making their game accessible. GDC is the worlds largest conference for game developers, with over 22,000 attendees each year.
I would love input from this group as part of this session. If you have any suggestions for game developers to better serve the visually impaired community, or some specific anecdotes as to how accessible games on iOS have affected your and your life, I would love to hear them.
Here is the full session description:
On the surface, the move to touchscreen devices and their visually oriented interfaces would seem to be an anathema for the visually impaired. Surprisingly, the opposite is true; they have had a rapid and life-changing effect, with smartphone uptake amongst people with profound vision impairments outstripping the rest of the population. Modern smartphones have powerful and sophisticated technologies to specifically facilitate their use by those with vision impairments. These technologies, and others, are actually very simple and straightforward for developers to work with, making it increasingly easy to accommodate those with vision impairments or even target them directly. In this session, speakers will present their experiences specifically creating or modifying games with the visually impaired in mind, during the development or refinement of games such as Zombies, Run!, MUDRammer and Ear Monsters. This session will discuss vision related accessibility in gaming, ranging from what there is to gain from it, creative gameplay issues, as well as technical and business challenges and rewards. Also presenting is blind video gamer and advocate, Brandon Cole, for his unique insight into gaming as a person with a visual impairment, and as a beginning hobbyist game developer.
Attendees will come away with a good understanding of the challenges, issues and rewards of making games accessible to those with vision impairments from a group with firsthand experience. They will gain a better understanding of the community of gamers with visual impairments.
Game developers and designers who would like to learn how their games can be made playable and enjoyable by those with visual impairments, and who would also like to understand some of the business and financial benefits to expanding their audience to include that community.