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On The Overlooked World Of 'Accessible Gaming' 21

Posted by simoniker
from the helping-players-play dept.
Thanks to TotalGames for reprinting a GamesTM piece discussing hardware and software that opens up videogaming to blind, deaf or physically impaired people. The piece notes "an increasing number of games created for the accessible market, and 'high-street' games [that] can be adapted to meet individual needs", although programmer Nick Adamson comments: "Currently the accessible games market is purely based on the PC... as for game consoles, they are pointless to blind gamers."
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On The Overlooked World Of 'Accessible Gaming'

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  • by nick_davison (217681) on Friday May 21, 2004 @07:11PM (#9221278)
    Pretty much the entire $20 "budget" line at Target/Walmart seems to be targeted to blind gamers already.

    Britney's Dance Beat is similarly targeted to the deaf.
  • by cheezus (95036) on Friday May 21, 2004 @07:18PM (#9221315) Homepage
    There are some games were sound effect clues are necessary, and don't have an accompying visual cue, but for the most part there are subtitles for the voiceovers, and rumble for when stuff blows up.
  • I have no earthly idea how it works, but there's a number of mentions in the source.

    I don't even know if it's some sort of joke. Can you buy a braille screen?
    • I believe a braille screen is possible... but how would you change the font?
    • You use a text-to-speech program to read you the screen. "Hello Ogar, welcome to nethack. You are a lawful male human archaeologist. Hyphen, hyphen, more, hyphen, hyphen. Upper-left corner, horizontal line, horizontal line, horizontal line, horizontal line, horizontal line, horizontal line, horizontal line, upper-right corner. Plus, dot, dot, dot, dot, at, dee, dot, dot, dot, vertical line. Vertical line, dot, dot, dee, dot, dee..." Crap, I'm screwed.
      • That's close, but modern screen-readers have the ability to associate such text with keywords that they can announce rather than the actual character. For example, the software wouldn't say that you saw a percent-sign. It might say "Food." for a lower-case d, it might say "canine monster." so that the user can know what he's seeing. Also, the software can ignore characters that are not important. One of the fundamental settings for such software is to ignore punctuation.
    • I've never heard of a braille screen but I have heard of 80 column braille output devices which can be read a line at a time. Presumably, if you were willing to write some software, you could use more than one of them at a time.

      Ever since the mention of this braille ebook (I think it was on here actually but I don't want to look for it) I've thought that the absolutely ideal solution would be to combine the braille elements on that thing with a mouse. It might be best to have a wide pattern, perhaps five

    • by WildFire42 (262051) on Friday May 21, 2004 @11:18PM (#9222756) Homepage
      I don't even know if it's some sort of joke. Can you buy a braille screen?

      Blind users tend to use one of two devices, either a screen reader (which will read the contents of the screen out loud and assist with navigation), or an RBD (Refreshable Braille Display), depending on personal preference.

      The most popular screen reader is called JAWS, by the company Freedom Scientific. [freedomscientific.com]There is a Linux screen reader, which is open source, known as EmacSpeak [cornell.edu]

      Here's a company that makes good Refreshable Braille Displays, for those who are interested. [alvabraille.com]

      Interestingly enough, Freedom Scientific, and others also make Audio-based and RBD-based PDA's.

      Since Nethack is text-based, it's easy to make this game work with Assistive Technology (which is what all of these different technologies are known as), as text is extremely easy to present to someone in alternative formats (spoken, Brailled, enlarged, etc.). Highly visual games, however, require an extra level of accessibility.

      Just a little FYI.
      • That's interesting, because I've always considered Nethack to *be* highly visual. In short, without an easily-readable 2D map representing the areas of the dungeon around the player and already explored, how could a blind player explore and fight effectively? With a braille screen I can understand, but I don't know if, for example, a blindfolded me could bear to play with a screen reader.

        I do understand that it's a lot harder to convert a 3D game to that sort of thing... though I have to wonder when you'
  • audio games (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cgenman (325138) on Friday May 21, 2004 @08:36PM (#9221862) Homepage
    There was actually an audio-only game released in Japan for the Saturn and Dreamcast, Kaze no Regret [64.233.161.104]. Sadly, it is Japan only,

    Harmonix Music also makes Karaoke Revolution [konami.com], a game which could have far more accessable menus, but once the player gets through the menu structure the game is all about singing, which anyone can do (though generally poorly).

  • It seems to me the article places the blame mostly on the accesibility device and software manufacturers for overlooking the gamers not gamers overlooking the disabled. This is a fascinating point in my opinion. It also occured to me that the two best bets to bringing games to the disabled are for cookie cutter type pulgins and hardware that fit with existing games as well as the disabled themselves modifying or creating games specifically designed to be accessible. Both of which seem to be taking place.
    • It seems to me the article places the blame mostly on the accesibility device and software manufacturers for overlooking the gamers not gamers overlooking the disabled.

      That's not too bad - some software game companies overlook the gamers as well. Too many examples to choose from... :)

      It also occured to me that the two best bets to bringing games to the disabled are for cookie cutter type pulgins and hardware that fit with existing games as well as the disabled themselves modifying or creating games s

  • ...most of which are bad, niche based games, or just plain don't get any attention. Additionally some games CAN be played if you're blind and/or deaf. As for impaired and/or a combination of the above, nothing short of VR would even come close to solving that (good luck playing a FPS if you're blind, deaf, missing your right arm, and had a triple bypass so you're not allowed to do anything that would dramatically increase your blood pressure.)

    Some of these games include:

    Dance Dance Revolution : not for the

  • by metamatic (202216) on Friday May 21, 2004 @11:16PM (#9222738) Homepage Journal
    At the risk of pointing out the very obvious, Interactive Fiction will work fine for blind users, via a screen reader. There are many excellent freeware IF games, comparable to Infocom's finest.
  • What about MUDs? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mmcleod (570170)
    A MUD, MUSH, or other similar world that relies entirely on text should be easily accessible by blind or deaf people.
  • My name is Michael McIntosh and I am one of the core members of the Games Accessibility SIG (http://www.igda.org/accessibility/) founded by Thomas Westin of Pin Interactive. There are organizations, like ourselves, examining the problem of how to makes games accessible for people with disabilities and working to come up with potential solutions and offer guidance to the game development community on how to offer this functionality. This is a very important quality of life issue for those with disabilities b
  • A few days ago this slashdot story [slashdot.org] was posted about a tounge-control system for gameboy.

    The sad thing is, someone had a cool thing for helping some disabled people get access to a game, and what happens? Masses and masses of juvenile posts.

    Kudos to those that can skip the mindset and do cool stuff for those who want to play too.

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