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Why devs should work with online communities to aid accessibility

May 30, 2017 | By Alissa McAloon

"Once you tap into that empathy and understand that 'you enjoy this but right now some other people can't', [your community will] help you and want to share that information too."

- Tara Voelker shares one insight gained from opening community conversations on accessibility during the development of Evolve. 

Last week, we hosted a live roundtable with a number of accessibility experts to discuss what developers need to consider when designing games to be accessible to as many players as possible. 

While our panelists discussed different avenues accessibility options in games can take, one question steered the conversation to how developers can and should work with their community outside of the game itself to help make said games both playable and enjoyable for players with disabilities.

“This is one thing I think that we have to do more: having developers and the community work together more on this, and have more of a channel between the two,” says designer James Portnow. He suggests that developers should be reaching out to organizations like AbleGamers to share guides and offer advice on ways players can work within the existing mechanics of a game to overcome accessibility issues they may be having.

In the clip above, Portnow, AbleGamers COO Steven Spohn, and Gaikai technical PM Tara Voelker bring up a fair amount of ways developers can open channels of communication with their community and, in some cases, boost accessibility without altering a single line of code.

There’s more like this to be found in the full, hour-long roundtable as well, including a discussion on how developers can approach increasing accessibility without tearing up their challenge-based games. And for more videos and livestreams on the intricacies of game development, including developer interviews, roundtables, and gameplay commentary, be sure to follow the Gamasutra Twitch channel.

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