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Accessibility at GDC 2022

by Ian Hamilton on 03/29/22 03:50:00 pm   Expert Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

There are a number of accessibility related sessions taking place over the course of GDC this year, both at the main conference itself and at the summits. Here's a handy list! All times are in PST.


Audio Summit
Tuesday March 22, 9:30am - 10:00am, Room 3004 West Hall

Designing Audio Based Game Mechanics

Giori Politi (Sound Designer, Lo-Fi People)

Fight invisible zombies. Take a walk in a musical forest.. Drive a car wearing a blindfold.

This talk will focus on designing audio-based game mechanics and sound-centered experiences: how audio-only experiences can be even more immersive than traditional audio-visual experiences, what the challenges are when designing sound for audio-based mechanics, and how the overall sound design process is different from that of visual mediums.

Including examples and insights from the production of the recently released, award winning game Blind Drive.


Future Realities Summit
Tuesday March 22nd, 9:30am - 10:00am, Room 3016 West Hall

Accessibility in VR: Lessons Learned and Best Practices

Andrew Eiche (COOwl & Cable Slinger, Owlchemy Labs Inc)
Alexis Miller (Director of Product Management, Schell Games)
Chris Groux (Video Games Trends Writer & Gaming Accessibility Correspondent, Inverse)

Christopher Groux, a video games reporter at Inverse.com, talks with Andrew Eiche, COO of Owlchemy Labs, and Alexis Miller, Director of Product Management from Schell Games, about the importance of accessibility in VR. Chris Groux brings years of experience reporting on accessibility in video games to this talk, asking questions about development and adding his perspective on what studios need to do to make their games playable for everyone. Andrew and Alexis provide expert insight into how their studios make accessibility a priority, developing features so their games are inclusive for all players without sacrificing gameplay.


Independent Games Summit
Tuesday March 22, 3:50 pm - 4:20 pm, Room 2016 West Hall

Prioritizing Accessible Player Experiences

Christopher Power (Executive Director & Associate Professor, AbleGamers Canada & UPEI)

Accessibility in games can be an overwhelming world of guidance, advice and opinion about what is important. When working on a budget, tight timelines, or limited person-power, this can result in discussion over which options to include, or worse, debate about which players to leave out of your game. This presentation will provide data from players with disabilities regarding which options are necessary pre-requisites for many players to play your games, as well as how different options are valued by a wide variety of different players making it so everyone can game and have accessible player experiences.


Main Conference
Wednesday March 23, 11:30 am - 12:00 pm,  Room 3016 West Hall

(Also virtual)

Modern Accessibility in 'Diablo II: Resurrected,' Because Hell Welcomes All

Drew McCrory (UX & Accessibility Lead, Vicarious Visions)

Breaking down a 20 year old, highly chunky PC title like Diablo 2 and modernizing it's accessibility to bring it up to standards that allow for a much broader audience to experience it is no easy task. Focusing on remaining true to the original, we take the approach of "Solve for one, extend to many", exposing options to players to maximize their experience without detracting from users who want the full classic experience. This talk looks at individual changes, how we approach needs, and juggle the fine line between what is one of the most iconic ARPGs of all time and what we can do to extend the game's reach to players who may not have been able to play it previously.


Main Conference
Thursday March 24, 10:00 am - 11:00 am, Room 2005 West Hall

(Also virtual)

What Being Neurodivergent Means in Game Development

Monica Fan (Associate Game Designer, Schell Games)
Radiant G (Indie Game Dev & Game Journalist, Radiant G! Studios & Pro Game Guides)
Ezekiel Hauge (Project Lead & Game Designer, Eztheory & Wise Serpent Studios)
Patrick Sheegog (UI Artist & UX Designer, Viatic Design)
Cameron Hopkinson (Accessibility Specialist, Freelance)
Emily Stell (Game Designer, Fabrik games)
Alanna Linayre (Creative Director & Founder , Toadhouse Games)
Samara-Jade Sendek ( Narrative Designer, Freelance)

Hear from a diverse group of game developers about their experiences with neurodivergence while developing games, how neurodivergence affects the game development process. Also hear from neurodivergent developers and what they do to maintain a game development career in a neurotypical world. These developers have come to view their neurodivergence as a tool and asset, and wish to inspire others with the same experience.


Round Tables
Thursday March 24, 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm, Room 211 South Hall

Where To Next? Accessibility Roundtable (Presented by the IGDA)

Tara Voelker (Accessibility Lead, Xbox Game Studios)

Accessibility has come a long way in a short time. Advances like the Xbox Adaptive Controller and The Last Of Us 2 have become the norm, and consumer expectations are shifting. Studios across the entire development spectrum are making great strides.

Yet we’re still only at the start, and a long way from where we need to be: with as many people as reasonably possible being able to benefit from all that games have to offer.

So where do we go from here? And are there ways in which we can collaborate on next steps? Join us for a frank and open conversation about the current state of the industry, and how we might all help to push the bar further.


Main Conference
Thursday March 24, 5:30 pm - 6:30 pm, Room 2014 West Hall

(Also virtual)

Accessibility and Accommodation Microtalks

Raffael Boccamazzo (Clinical Director, Take This)
Jay Justice (Director, LGBT HQ)
Makenzie De Armas (Associate Game Designer (D&D TRPG), Education and Advocacy Lead (Disability Community of Wizards), Wizards of the Coast)
Sunni Pavlovic (COO, Yacht Club Games)

Join four people with a range of lived experience, who are also committed advocates and experts, to learn more about how game industry workplaces can effectively provide accommodations and increase accessibility for various disabilities while also reaping the benefits of the unique perspectives and skills of these individuals.


Main Conference
Friday March 25, 11:30 am - 12:00 pm, Room 2005 West Hall

Greater Accessibility with Fewer New Features and Less Scope

Alexis Miller (Director of Product Management, Schell Games)
Francisco Souki (Senior Design Manager, Schell Games)

This session uses concrete game examples to explain how to best support those with interactive differences, including topics such as supporting accessibility-specific devices, recommended in-game assists, simplified controls, and more.


Main Conference
Friday March 25, 1:30 pm - 2:30 pm, Room 2010 West Hall

Lombax Lessons: A 'Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart' Design Postmortem

Mark Stuart (Lead Designer, Insomniac Games)

The Lead Designer of Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart takes you on an intergalactic journey of wild possibilities, crushing realities, and keeping the vision true to an iconic franchise while pushing for inclusivity and improved accessibility. Gaze into the multiverse and witness alternate variants of Rivet, the birth of Pocket Dimensions, and the navigational issues with being one of the most visually packed games of the year. This post-mortem takes the initial pillars of the game and explores how they drove design and system choices, constraints, and pivots the team encountered in crafting the duos most recent adventure.


Main Conference
Friday March 25, 3:00 pm - 3:30 pm, Room 2001 West Hall

Minority Care: Make Color No Longer a Cognitive Disability

Shengli Pang (UI/UX Designer, NetEase)

Color is an essential information ideographic tool in the game. Artists tend to use color to express the level of equipment, the state of items, or a reminder of the danger degree. These colors can quickly introduce players to the game content, while maximizing the creativity and expressiveness of the artists. Unfortunately, however, this color information is not the case for minority groups.Nowadays, there are many players having color vision deficiency all over the world. However, most of them are not given efficient attention they deserve. Being unable to distinguish some color-related information in the game, those players often fail to fully enjoy the fun of the game. How to make good use of color and enable more minority players enjoy the game is a huge challenge for artists. In the game NARAKA: BLADEPOINT, we paid close attention to the game experience of players having color vision deficiency. We focused on meeting those minority players' core needs and won both market and reputation for the game. The Accessibility Design in NARAKA: BLADEPOINT has won the praise from players with color vision deficiency in STEAM, helping expand approximately 10% of the potential market. In the meanwhile, we are in process of establishing The Accessibility Design standards of NetEase game, aiming to set a benchmark for Chinese overseas games.


And another link too, a similar list but of all of the diversity and inclusion related talks, courtesy of Jen Sanchez at Netflix -

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1xRg_8D9HaYYyHA2zDP-SDVmce7KnW1Y2k9Mcsep_xtY/edit#bookmark=id.y4y2aie7bluy


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