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Feature: 'Unified Design of Universally Accessible Games'

Feature: 'Unified Design of Universally Accessible Games'

December 7, 2006 | By Brandon Boyer

December 7, 2006 | By Brandon Boyer
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More: Console/PC

In today's Gamasutra feature, Dimitris Grammenos and Anthony Savidis follow up their earlier feature, The Theory of Parallel Game Universes, and detail their twice-practiced design theories behind Universally Accessible Games - games that can be played simultaneously by all players, regardless of physical handicap.

As Grammenos and Savidis explain, though the concept of universally playable games has been explored, the surface has barely been scratched with completed designs:

"Until now, little attention has been paid to the development of computer games that can be potentially played by all gamers, independently of their individual characteristics, requirements, preferences and abilities. In particular, there are no computer games that can be concurrently played among able and disabled people, either remotely or sharing the same computer, with the minor exception of a few games that can be played both by visually impaired and sighted players, like All inPlay card games and the 3D shooter Terraformers."

But through their work at ICS-FORTH, they've introduced the idea for UA-Games, which make no distinction between the abilities of any player:

"In order to overcome the limitations of existing approaches towards game accessibility, the Human–Computer Interaction Laboratory of ICS-FORTH has introduced the concept of Universally Accessible Games, - UA-Games (Grammenos, Savidis, Stephanidis, 2005) - as an effective technical approach to achieve game accessibility coupled with high interaction quality, also putting forward the objective of creating games that are concurrently accessible to people with diverse abilities.

UA-Games are interactive computer games that:

* Follow the principles of Design for All, being proactively designed to optimally fit and dynamically adapt to different individual gamer characteristics without the need of further adjustments via additional developments.

* Can be concurrently played among people with different abilities, ideally also while sharing the same computer.

* May be played on various hardware and software platforms, and within alternative environments of use, utilizing the currently available devices, while appropriately interoperating with assistive technology add-ons.

UA-Games support the right of all people for equal opportunities in social interaction motivated by playing, putting forward inclusive entertainment as a key quality of an inclusive Information Society."

You can now read the full Gamasutra feature on the subject, with more from Grammenos and Savidis on how to abstract, design, and implement the theories of universally accessible games (no registration required, please feel free to link to this column from external websites).

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