Special Effect - Accessible Gaming Charity

Special Effect logo, beneath an image of a young boy in a wheelchair playing an accessible game."SpecialEffect is perhaps the only charitable organisation dedicated to helping ALL young people with disabilities to enjoy computer games. I'm happy to say that I am presently working with Special Effect on their latest exciting project to bring accessible games to disabled children in and around Oxford (UK).

I'm helping initially to gather four different accessible gaming set-ups based around a Laptop (XP), Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360 and a Playstation 2. The next step is to find and train a small group of passionate volunteers to take this equipment out to clubs, schools, hospitals and so on.

The plan is for the project to run until around June/July this year, but I hope this will be just the start and that this work will spread to other parts of the country too, and beyond. Read more on the Special Effect Facebook page.

We've had some great gaming gear pledged so far from generous companies and organisations. More later as this stuff starts to turn up. Oh, and if anyone wishes to donate games or anything that might help - please visit the Special Effect web-site or contact me directly through OneSwitch.org.uk.

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Robert Florio Interviewed

Image of Robert Florio playing Tomb Raider using the head-operated Quad Controller.
Entitled "Against All Odds", IGDA GASIG activist, Robert Florio tells Crave Online how it's been for him and all about Accessible Gaming. A great interview that all developers should read.

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Light Glove Virtual Controller



There's a lot of potential in this great device - even in music (although you might not believe it from the rendition of Smoke on the Water in this clip!). See LightGlove.com for more.

Via: Reseau Nouvelle Technologies

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Everybody's Golf 5 / Hot Shots Golf: Out of Bounds

Everybody's Golf 5 - PS3 game box.
The first Playstation 3 game that I'm really looking forward to, with hopes that it may be quite accessible, is Everybody's Golf 5. Due for release in the US in March and hopefully Europe too. I'd be really interested to hear anybody's experience of the game relating to how it plays on the easiest settings. Especially: can it be played with a single button?

On the topic of accessible golf, you may find these interesting: Real Abilities Charity Golf Tournament, where disabled golfers played against able-bodied golfers in a virtual golf vs. real golf game. Secondly, the "Top 3 Accessibility Features for Golf Games" gives advice to developers in adding some basic features that can make golf games much easier for many disabled gamers.

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Bingo!

Switch Adapted Bingo Caller.The first new item of 2008 added to my shop is a switch adapted Bingo caller. One press sets this northern-comic in action - "Eyes down for a full house!". What I really liked about this gadget is that he uses fun bingo phrases e.g. "A nice cup of tea... number 33" unlike the really high-paced bingo halls of today which just bark out the numbers alone. And if he's still too fast - you can hit your switch again to pause him mid-flow.

You can use the other accessibility switch to check all your numbers once a player calls Bingo if there's any doubt.

So basically, even if you don't know your numbers - you can still get involved playing with friends and family. "End of the line....90!".

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Superstition on Sesame Street

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Ace Attorney - Apollo Justice



Capcom have kindly made their latest Nintendo DS game, Ace Attorney - Apollo Justice available to play on-line in the form of a mini-demo. And for the first time - head-tracker, eye-tracker and even one-switch gamers (with help) can play a DS game (albeit just a little slice of one). Nice!

Via Google: English version. Japanese version.

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Invasion Waves

Invasion Waves: an update of arcade classics Super Breakout and ArkanoidInvasion Waves is a game in the style of Super Breakout and Arkanoid, which is controlled with three controls - mouse left and right and an occassional click . A free demo is available at WildSnake Arcade (or $20 for the full download). Should work well with most head-trackers and eye-trackers and dwell-clicking seems perfectly suited too (hover to trigger a click).

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Videojuegos accesibles

Image of a three pane Spanish comic strip titled 'Encountered Opinions'. The first pane is of a man playing Wii Bowling and reads: 'Yahoo, Another Strike! The WII is sooo cool...' - The second pane is of a man playing another Wii game and reads: Wooha, another guy to the floor... who's next? The Wii is sooo cool... - The final pane is of a man with one-arm holding a Wii remote with dangling Nun-chuk controller that he can't hold complaining, 'What? I lost again? The Wii is a crap...'I've just been sent some great links from Samuel Franco Dominguez to Spanish and French accessible gaming articles, some of which I thought I'd share.

Click on the image above for an English translation - although I think you might get the gist from the pictures and final word alone! Wii problems...

Spanish blog entry on Accessible Gaming (translated below):

"If you like a game but think it will be difficult or impossible to play due to paralysis in your arms or hands, tremors, loss of dexterity, amputation, smaller hands, abnormalities of birth or rheumatism, you will be interested this article. You can still play if you know how to find an appropriate controller.

So begins one of the articles that I have sent Samuel Franco Dominguez, a resident "MIR" doctor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. He conducts his work at the Hospital Nacional de Paraplejicos de Toledo (Spain), who are interested in new technologies applied to the rehabilitation and accessibility to information technology and communication.

The article in question is about the accessibility of video games for people with physical disabilities. Listing the positive and negative effects of video games, analysis of physical barriers and presenting their solutions. This work has been published in a summary of the latest newsletter CEAPAT, but the author gives us full to share it with all of you.

Descargar artículo Videojuegos accesibles, de Samuel Franco (PDF, 4,53 MB). "

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No School Like The Old School?

Image of Atari VCS game Super Breakout.It's not something that any mainstream publisher does now, but in 1981 and 1982, Atari did. What, you may ask? Simply, they included a "special [accessibility] feature" option in their top-flight games. Not only this, but they marked the fact clearly on their game boxes and instructions. The disabled gamers in mind were very young kids with slower reactions and abilities. The features generally slowed game play down and made things a lot less hectic and weighted against you. These games were:

Super Breakout, Defender, Missile Command, Pac-Man, Asteroids, Berzerk, Warlords and Yars Revenge.

The IGDA's GASIG have been talking about a ratings system for some time now regarding accessibility features in games. To date only 7-128 Software and Deaf Gamers seem to have anything like this in place. It would be fantastic to see something like this take a hold, as age ratings have with PEGI. One day...

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"Toys Like Us"

Image of a dolls face in close up."Over the festive season, many children found gifts of toys under the Christmas tree - but were they dolls in wheelchairs, visually impaired teddy bears or amputee action figures? When Ouch columnist Laurence Clark introduced his three year old son to a disabled toy, he got an instant consumer reaction!"

via: BBC's Ouch!

Origin Instruments

Origin Instruments Accessible Controllers. Sip/Puff, Swifty Switch Interface and HeadMouse controllers pictured.Origin Instruments have been showing interest in Accessible Gaming, and kindly sent me some evaluation kit including my first ever sip/puff switch.

They sent me the smallest switch interface I've ever used (the Swifty) which can be made to work with any PC switch game using JoyToKey. Using a "Beam" wireless device, this can reportedly be used to hook up three accessibility switches for extra control, although I didn't have this to try. Nice though.

The sip/puff set-up is excellent, which I used hooked up to a number of games consoles (e.g. sip to steer left and puff to steer right). Takes practice to use these, and at one stage I was getting slightly strained "I've blown up 30 balloons" cheeks.

Finally - I successfully used their super simple to use HeadMouse Extreme. Worked great with any Mouse compatible game I threw at it. Excellent. Thanks for the fun gadgets, Origin! All added to the Accessible Gaming Shop.

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Gordon's Trigger Finger

Half-Life 2 PC Game Cover."Hey Folks, We made our [one switch] mod available for download on our website HelpYouPlay.com.

If you have a copy of HalfLife 2 DeathMatch try it out [it allows you to play using just the SPACE BAR]. All feed back is welcome. The bot occasionally gets stuck but you can kill yourselfby pressing the 'K' key.We are working on a version that allows you to play the full halflife 2 game.

Eelke Folmer - Game interaction design www.helpyouplay.com"

Via: IGDA GASIG Mailing List

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