Superhero Workout: My Thoughts to Six to Start
I am posting my report to Six to Start regarding their Workout game, Superhero Workout. This game, for the most part, is accessible--By that, I mean after you get past the initial screen, most menus and the like are accessible.
The tutorial is also accessible because Six to Start added what I refer herein this report audio "next up" cues to the tutorial, but these go away when starting the main story.
This is what people need to do to successfully advicate for accessibility, in my opinion. Six to Start personally told me via support that they wouldn't recommend it. They said that because right now I honestly wouldn't recommend that either. But, on iOS, there are some games that when you open them, there is simply nothing. Cannot interact with the game at all. Those games it is safe to say cannot be made accessible--a notable exception is Freeq.
However, the fact is that a large portion of the game can be interacted with using VoiceOver. Is it enough to play it, however? No, because there needs to be audio cues other than VoiceOver, in my opinion, to make this game more playable than it is, followed by text or verbal descriptions of the exercises. So, knowing that I'd have issues going into this game, I decided to email Six to Start about my first impressions and feelings. Folks, if we want developers on any platform to take us seriously, gaming or otherwise, we need to start doing this kind of thing. Sure, I spent $2 knowing full well there would be issues. Back when Zombies! Run first came out, that game was very inaccessible, and now it is 100 percent accessible with even more accessibility improvements coming in Zombies! Run 4. The same process happened with King of Dragon Pass.
So that was a rant and some food for thought if people want to take accessibility seriously, we have to chip away at it, hard.
Here's my report to Six to Start.
Despite your previous emails about Superhero Workout accessibility, I decided to give it a shot. I am a gamer who plays games on console that are not 100 percent accessible, but we call them playable because by some kind of alternative method or methods, we are able to win and get through the game, with patience.
With VoiceOver, I'd still recommend fixing the initial startup screen when one starts the game, explaining in a few screens how to play and how the iOS camera tracks movement. VoiceOver users have to keep turning off VOiceOver, randomly tap around for the continue button for each screen of that until the main menu comes up, where there then comes a reasonable amount of accessibility there in that menu and the submenus in that menu.
So I started the tutorial. The tutorial notes that some exercises are based on how many reps and others have a set count. Does the tutorial go on regardless of whether you do them right or not? With the Squats, I was fine and the tutorial moved on without issue and went to pushups, if I recall.
So then it introduced jabs, so I just acted more or less like I was punching in front of me towards the phone, and that didn't work too well. That was the first time I had to press the "Skip" button.
The last one I had to press Skip as well because I wasn't sure how I was supposed to do the Side to Side shuffle.
So, with only two segments skipped in the tutorial I decided I'd check out mission one to hear the story if nothing else. Gone are the "next up" audio prompts in favor of on-screen displaying them, and some of those read with VoiceOver, some didn't. Most didn't, but the ones that did, I was still confused. "Next up, High Knees". Well, that could be a number of things, and me just flexing my knees up and down probably wasn't it, I guess I have to hold one knee up for a few seconds--probably an on-screen indicator, followed by the same thing with the other knee. I've never heard the term Burpee before, so when it said "Next up, Burpees", I had no clue what that was.
With obdominal Crunches I guess I did those okay because I didn't have to press Skip. Eventually, after skipping most of the workout because I couldn't figure it out, the game just randomly crashed and I think I was almost done.
I figured I'd send feedback to you not because I expect an accessible version soon--though that'd just be fantastic, but I'd like for Six to Start as a company to do something in the realm of Zombies Run AKA audio-focused game with a completely new story and characters for workouts that doesn't need workout equipment. Part of the appeal to trying this out is because I have some friends who really can't play Zombies: Run! effectively because they don't have any machines or anything. This would be a way to do some crunches, some pushups and other workouts like that and all you need is your device and your body. Also, I'm not going to lie, what I played of mission one has me interested in this story. Though, I'm curious. When the app does a three beep count twice, I'm guessing that the first one is a warmup wait to get ready, and the second three count beep means that the camera is tracking performance?
Anyway, I hope this helps. To make an accessible version of this game would take a considerable amount of time and effort, something that I'd sure help out with if Six to Start would be willing to. Either textual or audio descriptions of the excersises would be a requirement, and the audio "Next up" prompts would be helpful because VoiceOver does not always read them. Most times it only read the next one if I skipped the previous one.
But, with the accessibility bugs aside, the main difficulty I have with the game now even in it's current form is one, trying to figure out if the camera is actually tracking me correctly, and two, I'm just not sure how we as VoiceOver users could learn these workouts. I could go online and research some of this stuff, but if I follow instructions online the game may not take them because the game, it appears, wants you to do stuff in a certain way.
Well, you did warn me that these issues may come up, but I figured I'd give a detailed report on my findings, as it were.
I have written to these folks on different occasions and they are a great group of people. I have run into a bit of trouble with Zombies run on trying to repair my defense tower and upgrading anything that is on page two of my base. They said this will be fixed in Zombies Run 4, that VO has trouble and the screen bounces a person back to the main base instead of opening the info pages but should be fixed in ZR4.
I was thinking of getting the super hero workout myself and am glad that you did and posted this.
It would be awesome if they had a dungeon rescue version that does running and workouts.
Thanks for writing them.
LabAnimalOne AKA Atty
P.S. I love King of Dragon's Pass.
Funny you should mention dungeons and workouts. They have this game called Dungeon Runner, but I really don't know if it's worth getting--it's a glorified RunKeeper but with a dungeon look and feel, and similar to actual dungeon crawler video games and online games, there really isn't any story to it. It sounds like they took the ZR supply model, called it loot in that game and that's basically it.
While ZR is the most accessible game they have on offer, Superhero Workout is by far the best audio wise. While I understand the theme of ZR is that you're out on runs with a cheap HeadCam with crap transmission, missions such as the race missions and interval training just sound better. My hope is that season 3 onwards it gets better though I'm not even a quarter of the way through season 2 yet. Season 2 has got to be the longest season.
Here is a response I got back from Six to Start regarding Superhero Workout. The response is pretty positive. In a nutshell, they won't add accessibility unless it can be fully accessible, they're focus at the moment is entirely on Zombies, Run! so it won't be getting any updates anytime soon, and he gave us some info that will help us Adventurous gamers get the information we will need to keep attempting it, if we so choose.
With many of the issues you've found, these are problems because there is not any VoiceOver support for Superhero Workout. We specifically don't advertise Superhero Workout as being accessible to any degree because we have not specifically included VoiceOver support.
Any areas of the app you have been able to use, even a little, will only be this way due to pure coincidence. When you use VoiceOver with an app it will take whatever information is available to it. If the app developer has chosen to make the app accessible you'll get coherent information, but if they haven't then you may still be presented with information you can use, but this will not have been put there deliberately. The latter is the case with Superhero Workout.
If we do decide to make Superhero Workout accessible in the future (and this is an app I believe we could make accessible, so I have done, and will continue to, bring this up in meetings) then we won't do so in a half-hearted way. Any information which is presented in a solely visual way currently would be translated into audio. At the moment however it's highly unlikely we'll release an update which adds a small amount of VoiceOver functionality. From a development point of view it's only worth doing this if we add full accessibility. Because, as you've said, that's a big job, I can't say whether or not we'll be able to do this. At the moment we're focussed on Zombies, Run! only, so there's no development schedule for our other apps at least until all of the Season 4 content is released.
To answer your questions about using the app, if you want to continue giving it a go, the beeps you hear are a countdown to the actual tracked exercise, you're correct. During this period an animated example of the exercise you'll be doing next is shown on screen.
If you want to find out which exercises you should be doing in a given workout ahead of time there is a little info button which offers a breakdown of each exercise, and whether it's time or rep based. Next to each exercise is another info button you can tap on to get written information, as well as an animated example, of how to do the exercise. VoiceOver should be able to read all the text-based information to you. You can't get this information while you're in a mission though.
Finally, as a bit of an insider secret, it's possible to progress by waving your hand over the camera for any exercise. Because we're using a phone camera it's impossible for us to make movement detection as accurate as say, a Kinect, but you do have to be moving at least a little to get the story to progress. If you find you get too frustrated with trying to use the app as designed but want to hear the story you can just try the hand-wave technique if you like!
Bit of a wall of text there, but I hope all that information is helpful to you. If you do have any further questions about Superhero Workout then please do let me know.
All the best,