Special Effect Roadshow

Image of a man using a large AbleNet green button to make a car go in BurnOut Paradise on the Xbox 360. Off screen he is assisted by someone steering using a conventional controller.The Special Effect Accessible Gaming Roadshow has been a great success in Oxfordshire. I recently met up with some of the volunteers running these events and chatted about what worked and what didn't at the show. Here's a snippet of thoughts...

Nintendo Wii: The Wii and Wii Sports has been very popular. However, many players found the game they most wanted to play, Bowling, very difficult. In this game you have to re-enact a bowling action whilst holding a finger trigger down. At the end of your motion you have to let go of the trigger just at the right time. Many of the learning disabled gamers there found it really tricky to get this timing spot on. Potential solution? Give an option to remove the necessity of letting go of the trigger. When you stop your swing - you automatically let go of the ball.

Super Monkey Ball 2/Deluxe Mini-games: For the gamers unable to hold a Wii remote (of which there are many) a switch accessible alternative was provided. Bowling could be played with a single button thanks to an aim that constantly swang left and right. Unfortunately unless you chose to be "Baby" which of course many people were reluctant to be - the auto-aim swept at a frustratingly fast rate. In the game there is a facility to then add spin to the ball, but for those unable to activate this the game proved to be too difficult with balls constantly going out of bounds. Potential solution? Offer a gutter bumpers option, so that the ball could not go out of bounds, just as with the real game.

Pool proved to work really well, where an assistant would help the player aim up shots, according to the players wishes. The gamer could then tap their switch to choose the power and play their shots. For gamers unable to say 100% where they wanted to aim for - a helper could constantly slowly adjust the angle of the aim. When the player hits their switch - that's their choice.

Xbox 360 Burnout Paradise. Not as popular as the EyeToy nor the Wii but much enjoyed by those playing it. The split controls worked well to support team play. The digital steering proved a little dificult for some as it's hard to make small adjustments. Potential solution? Hardware to offer a way to vary the strength of maximum strength steering.

EyeToy Play went down a treat, with many thanks to the Sandbox "Play Room" on the original EyePlay game. There was no pressure here, with all the time in the world to experiment and have fun.

Just want to close in saying how impressed I've been with the Special Effect organisation and volunteers. Great to have linked up with such enthusiastic people who genuinely are making a difference. And if you want to see how much accessible gaming is enjoyed, then take a look at Special Effect's Facebook gallery here.

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