AbleGames 2009: The Games

Image of Hoop Stars switch accessible basketball. Being played by a retired NBA player, Ervyn Johnson, from the Denver Nuggets and a young disabled lad.For those wishing to relive a little more of AbleGames 2009 at home, curator Gavin Philips has kindly shared with me (to share with you) a list of most of the games used on the day.


The One-Switch Games

Alice Amazed; Alien Abduction; Aurikon; Blood Bath; Bubble Gum Pop; Bullet Speed; Chuck Rock Dance; CRC Formula 1; Cubes; Hoop Stars; Jet Boarder; Mario Dash; Maze Muncher; Mini Golf; One Switch Ballz; Orbit Racers; Pang'd; Ropor; Run Rabbit Run (3D); Scorch Went Bonkers; Slacker; Star Wars; Squid Yes, Not So Octopus; Way of the Empty Hand 2.

Most of the games above would not exist if it were not for the support of Retro Remakes so huge thanks to them. Of course many thanks too, to all individual authors. You can discover many more one-switch playable games via Switch Gaming at OneSwitch.org.uk.


Image of Whack-a-Monty-Mole being played via Eye-Control.
Games with Multiple-methods of Control

The Pyramid; Whack-A-Monty. Both fantastic examples of games playable using a huge array of controllers, covering a wide span of abilities. The Pyramid even features a zooming option for sight-impaired gamers. In fact it probably has the largest range of accessibility features ever seen in a game to date.


Point and Click Games

Big Kahuna Reef and on-line here; Caterpillar; Crayon Physics; Hamsterball; Mahjongg; Peggle; Zuma

These are games designed to be played with a mouse or any compatible controller such as a head-tracker, touch screen and so on. The great thing about the list above is that these games tend not to rush you, so you can play in your own time. You can find many more of these types of game all around the net. Gavin particularly recommends PopCap Games.


Image of a switch adapted full-sized pinball machine.
Adapted Arcade Games

AbleGames featured three full-sized adapted arcade games, being Pinball, Hungry Hippos and horse riding game Neck-N-Neck. The following is the best way I can pipe these down the internet to you:

Pinball: ATE Arcade Future Pinball and Microsoft Pinball Arcade.
Hungry Hippos: Zampabolas.
Neck-N-Neck: Available for the MAME emulator. To be added to the ATE Arcade eventually.


Image of switch adapted Nerf Guns.
Adapted Toys

The show had adapted Nerf guns alongside a number of switch adapted toys. The following links are a good starting point to find out more: OneSwitch.org.uk Blog and D.I.Y. pages, Dream Toys and Kate Aherne's 60 Things to do with a Single Switch.


Wii

Guitar Hero World Tour; Wii Fit; We Ski; Mario Kart; Wii Sports; Mario Party 8.

The adapted Wii Fit board used a chair for those unabled to stand to play or fancying an alternative. Mario Party 8 had many mini-games that worked well for head control, like hovercraft racing.

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Top 5 Multiplayer One Switch Games

Image of Mystic Mine for one to six one-switch players. A 3D train track optical illusion. 1. Mystic Mine (PC). Huge fun for 1-6 one-switch players. Newly updated by Koen Witters including some great variations and speed control over the entire game. Highly recommended.

2. Uo Poko (Arcade). A match-three puzzle game for 1-2 players. I love the two-player mode where you play to help one another. The menu system is not one-switch accessible unfortunately. A game for future ATE Arcade inclusion.

3. Way of the Exploding Hand 2 (PC). For 1-2 players. The finest one-switch fighting game to date. Fantastic music and sound effects.

4. Alice Amazed (PC). For 1-2 players including a range of mini-games. I've always found Climbing the Wells tremendous fun. Michi.nu have a new one-switch accessible game due soon to look forward to.

5. Neck-N-Neck (Arcade). For 1-6 players. A horse racing game based on the earliest ever commercial one-switch game, Atari's Steeplechase. Another game for future ATE Arcade inclusion.

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More Strangerous Pursuits (PG)

Atari 8000

Image of a mocked-up Super Atari 8000.The super-computer rebuild is getting there. Fingers crossed it all holds together. Stuff waiting in the wings? A break down of the superb AbleGames event so that you can relive many of the games at home. A 4Noah lab page with new William Pilgrim projects. More on the wonderful Skoog and Skoogmusic. More ATE Arcade projects. An update on Mystic Mine with a list of the best multi-player one-switch games. An Accessible Music Shop.

Update: I've closed the OneSwitch shop down temporarily whilst I get more organised. My plans are to build an Accessible Shopping Arcade to cover switch accessible Toys and Gadgets, Music, Art and (of course) Gaming. This will showcase suppliers around the world as well as some of my stuff. Won't be quick, but I plan to get there...

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The Flat Earth

The Flat Earth Feel a bit like my computer world has fallen off the edge of the earth. Forced to completely reinstall my operating system due to flakey HP vs. Vista vs. Norton vs. ATI vs. who knows. Lost a few bits along the way. Slowly coming out of the other side. Expect things to be a bit slow around here for a little while.

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Super PSTW Action RPG

Game shot image. Super blocky graphics of your sword wielding hero vs. a baddie.Super Press Space To Win Adventure RPG 2009 is not a serious take on a one-switch accessible RPG game, but it made me smile. Good for a grin. Space to play.

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monoface

monoface - image of a slightly bonkers mixed up face. Click on the face above to mix up faces for fun. Position the pointer over the "shuffle face" text to offer one-switch mix ups. Click on individual features to change them one by one.

Via the Neuron Blog's Assisted Art post.

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SpaceKraft - New Sensory Room Equipment



It's about time there were some new ideas from the bigger Sensory Room companies. SpaceKraft have recently posted a few YouTube videos including the one above:

"As you enter this room you find a cube on the floor which as you roll it reveals a colour. Each colour represents a different environment/habitat. Please bear with the transitions and the video quality!

Cube environments;
Red - flowers
Orange - Autumn Windy Day
Yellow - Desert Helicopter ride
Greeen - Rainforest thunderstorm
Blue - Himalayan Helicopter ride
Indigo - Galaxy projector and shooting stars with fog"

Link via: AbilityNet's Twitter Feed

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Voice Art

Image of a wobbly black on white line drawn face created by using the voice alone. ZeFrank.com has many fun web-toys some of which have ready potential as accessible toys and outlets for creativity. The picture above was drawn with the voice alone, although you could simply play music and adjust the volume to interact with Voice Draw.

Really liked Digi Puppet with which you can mess about with the settings using a point and click interface. Like Craymachine too which is designed to be messed about with via the keyboard but could easily be accessed using switches. For more variety a single switch mapped to the left-click using the 4Noah utility for Guitar Shred Show works fine.

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The Most Powerful Switch Ever

Image of a piece of street furniture with a heavy duty push button on a post. Above it are the instructions 'Reboot Universe'."Reboot Universe" image via: The Wooster Collective

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Hack Ability Blog

Image of a D.I.Y. glove and hacked can to make a touch sensitive game controller for an Atari 2600.The Hack Ability Blog is the brilliant idea of Liz Henry. Anything that can make life more accessible can find a home there. I've added this to my D.I.Y. pages and will make sure her site is a regular read of mine.

From another source I found a D.I.Y. glove controller for an Atari VCS. The Atari uses very basic contacts so this could potentially work for many other low voltage game controllers. I would imagine this may be a solution for those wanting a very light pressure switch too. Looks like it would be a bit sweaty in use!

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Links Lucky Dip

Image of a capsule toy vending machine stating 'Lucky Dip - 10p' next to a toy ring vending machine. Both looking a bit tatty. So many interesting accessible gaming and leisure things have turned up my way lately that I'm going to dump a load of them here in one go:

RJ Cooper keyboard cover for laptops. Cuts out the temptation to press keys and touch pads helping to focus the user's attention on their primary control method such as a single switch.

Floatsation is a swimming aid unlike any other I've seen. They say, "A unique matrix of balls giving total support and independence in water for all abilities, disabled and non-disabled alike. It has wide applications in the leisure market, as an exercise unit and an aid to relaxation as well as being a fun toy in the water for all."

ReboundTherapy.org do fun looking therapeutic work with trampolines and have some great links.

TeraKirk is beavering away over at GameCritic. She has recently posted a thought provoking article entitled "Motion Control: Boon or Bane for Gamers with Disabilities". Keep it up, Tera!

Ben Heck has modified an Xbox 360 controller to switch the controls around and add some extra buttons. Neat job as always.

Stumbled upon a YouTube video of a heavy duty looking one-handed Xbox 360 controller called the Chongtroller.

Discovered a Dutch site with interest in accessible gaming in education called Speciaal Onderwijs En Ict. Added to the Game Accessibility sites list.

Found a French free accessible games site: Jeux Gratuits Ergo.

Finally, Eelke Folmer's notes for his recent presentation on game accessibility research at the Games for Health conference. Not sure if I agree 100% with his take that not all games can be made one-switch accessible. I think they can, but certainly, some will take much more effort than others to make so.

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Squid Yes, Not So Octopus: Squid Harder

Squid Yes! Not So Octopus! Squid Harder is the fist ever 2D game to make me feel motion-sick. My brain and eyes struggle to put it all together at times.

It is amazing and relentless and the most bonkers hard-core shoot-em-up ever to be graced with one-switch accessibility. It also has practice and auto-fire modes meaning that anyone who can activate an accessibility switch can blow lots of things up in glorious glowing primary colours for the shear fun of it.

Written by Robert Fearon, a massive supporter of accessible gaming, SYNSO2 uses a William Pilgrim 4Noah utility to add one-switch functionality. Both Robert's and William's influence reaches far and wide within OneSwitch with projects they have initiated or supported. Thank you both.

Read more on Rob Fearon over at BritishIndie.com and expect more 4Noah work to surface at OneSwitch as soon as I get it ready and uploaded.

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Canabalt

Image of a black and white city scape with a pixelated man in mid-flight after jumping from a building parkour style. Parkour themed Canabalt is a fierce one-switch test of timing. Use the SPACE BAR (or X or C) to jump from building to building. Great sound and furious gameplay make this well worth a look. A speed option would have been nice although you can slow things down using the likes of CPU Killer.

Thanks to Gavin Philips of Assistive Technology Partners for the tip-off. Reviewed in more detail over at AbleGamers.

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E-Scape

Image of switch accessible musical sequencer E-Scape by Tim Anderson of Inclusive Music.Tim Anderson has very kindly allowed me to host his switch accessible musical sequencer: E-Scape. Originally developed at the Drake Music Project E-Scape opens up a way for users to compose music and also perform it back as a conductor.

The trial version hosted at OneSwitch gives a really good taste of what is possible after only a short period of getting used to the menus. An easy way to start is to load an existing score then perform it with a single switch, either note by note, or in phrased chunks.

One, two or three switch set-ups are possible as well as a mouse based interface that should suit head-tracker users well. It's also possible for up to 16 switch users to play at once, although this requires additional hardware.

See more at Inclusive Music, MyBreathMyMusic and YouTube. Find more switch accessible music ideas at OneSwitch.

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What is a Skoog?



What is a Skoog?

A Skoog is a musical instrument like no other that will open up unprecedented expressive control to musicans previously denied it.

In essence the Skoog puts a physics based sound model of real and imagined instruments under the control of the user. Imagine someone who can not pick up, blow nor hold a real flute. The Skoog gives the user an alternative way to play but with an equal degree of expressivity. You can have the soft foam cube set up so that if you press it softly you'll hear just the gentle blowing of air, without sounding the notes. Press a little harder to play a note with control. Press too hard and you'll over blow to make a school recorder screech and have your neighbours knocking on the wall!

Thanks to versatile mouse based software for Apple or PC you can tweak many settings to suit the individual's degree of strength and control as they learn how to play.

Instrument choices range through flute, bass guitar, vibraphone, singing-stones and many more. I had huge fun playing with the Elephant sounds. Pressing softly sounded out a gentle elephantine trumpet. Pressing hard gave out a huge roaring "get out of my way" trumpet. I also loved some of the oriental sounds as well as the amazing ability to play through a sound sample depending on the pressure you exert upon the Skoog. Press softly and you'll play through the beginning, a bit firmer and you'll sound out deeper into the sample. It's a wonderful way to create music, and opens up a way for people to sing who may not have a voice of their own.

Never before has such control been offered to any musician with an instrument. This is a potential revolution for disabled and able bodied musicians alike. I am certain that others will see and hear it in the flesh, understand it's potential, and become supporters of the cause too: music for everyone.

You can learn much more direct from Skoogmusic and keep up to date via their brand new blog entitled Dr. Schogler's Nuggets, and YouTube video channel.

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Music Engine - Dub Steam Ahead



Video via the Drake Music Project's YouTube Channel. Featuring a wide array of accessible musical instruments and interfaces including the Soundbeam and accessibility switches.

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AbleGames 2009 - Best Accessible Gaming Show Yet?

Fantastic photo of a daughter and her Dad playing Guitar Hero at AbleGames 2009.

Photo taken by a person using a switch adapted camera at AbleGames 2009.

Image of an ex-professional basketballer playing head-to-head against a young boy in the one-switch game HoopStars.

Image of a young lad tilting his body in a chair strapped to a Wii-Fit board to play a Disney winter sports game at AbleGames 2009.

Image of a switch adapted giant arcade Hungy Hungry Hippos.

Image of the gigantic one switch adapted Nerf Guns and the targets to hit in front, including humans!.

Image of a young woman playing Peggle using Eye Control.

Image of a switch adapted Neck-n-Neck arcade game for up to six players each using a single switch. Family look to be having huge fun.
The photos above are a handful taken from Assistive Technology Partners' AbleGames 2009 held on August the 29th. In the words of Ian Dury - "Das ist gut! C'est fantastique!". You'll soak up so much by browsing the photos and reading some of the news reports from the likes of Mile High News and The University of Colorado and Denver.

Personally I couldn't stop grinning. So much joy on show from something that most kids take for granted. Frankly most disabled kids should be taking this sort of fun for granted too. There's still a long way to go but the road exists.

Chuffed doesn't cover it when Gavin Philips who contributed so much to this event e-mailed me this just before the event: "Thanks a million for running Oneswitch and your blog, Barrie. The majority of the games and adaptations that we will be using for this event came directly from you". Well have to say this event has given me back plenty of inspiration to keep going. Thank you!

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ATE Arcade: Electro Mechanical Games

Image of the cartoon-style Whack-a-Monty Mole game in action.Freshly added to the ATE Arcade is the accessible electro mechanical and redemption games section. Just a few types currently reside including Whack-a-Mole and a crane grabbing machine. It would be wonderful to add more in the future. I'm thinking of video game approximations of toy grabbers, fortune telling machines, shove-a-penny games, novelty shooting ranges, air-hockey, table football....

...in fact I'd love to see anything you might find in an arcade from past or present that isn't a video game, pinball game nor a fruit machine find a home here. All decent accessible games (see Whacka-Monty-Mole for guidance and inspiration) will get an instant submission to the Game for Helen project as well as a permanent place in the ATE Arcade.

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Wobble Bob - On-line

Image of one-switch cartoon platform game, Wobble Bob. Purple plectrum shape with googly eyes jumping around platforms looking a bit like swiss cheese, trying to collect various fruit.Lukasz Lesicki has remade his award winning "one-switch" platform game Wobble Bob in flash for online play. You can still get the older PC offline version but both are deeply flawed. Why? Because both versions force a mouse based menu system, even to continue from one completed stage to the next. Terrible design flaw for a one-switch game. Hope it's fixed soon.

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Adaptación de un juguete con pulsador

Celia Marí has just posted a very clear D.I.Y. guide for switch adapting a simple battery operated toy dinosaur. See more at her splendid blog Juegos Atención Temprana.

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The Holy Grail of Accessible Gaming Controllers?



The video above "Handsfree Playstation 3 Control Using Voice and Head Tracking for the Disabled" demonstrates a giant leap forwards towards a holy grail of games accessibility: To be able to play with the controller/s you want to, how you want to.

It would be a truly wonderful thing if players had a way to fully configure control schemes that suit them and not just the "mainstream". Thanks to the versatility of a PC/Mac, if a PS3 can be played using a head-tracker and voice controls I can see no reason why not using any other combination of control methods.

Software assist modes could open up so much more for players. Rapid fire modes are obvious, but how about latching modes for those finding holding buttons down for a long period painful such as in race games? How about randomised moves tied to a single button to open for fight games, as seen in Way of the Exploding Hand 2? How about 4Noah inspired schemes designed to reduce controls further.

One more dream... To see emulated game gestures for the Wii under the control of switch use. I can't see why lots of Wii Sports and Wii games in general couldn't be played using controls other that the Wii remote. The Wii is a fun machine. Doesn't seem right that people are excluded from it so unnecessarily.

Link thanks to an Anonymous comment left on the "One Step Closer?" post.

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Bayonetta - One Hand Mode

Graeme Singh recently proved that a 2D one-switch fighting game was both possible and fun with his PC title Way of the Exploding Hand 2. Watching the video above, Japan's Platinum Games seem to have proven the same for 3D fighting games on mainstream games consoles. The game in question is their pending slash-em-up Bayonetta:
"Hi all. Bayonetta Director Hideki Kamiya here. At long last, here we go! Gameplay video of Very Easy Automatic Mode (AKA Mommy Mode)! Writing a ton of words would be a disservice, so instead, check out this video. Yep. This is the power of Automatic. Automatic can be used on Easy and Very Easy difficulties, and leaves the most complex controls up to the CPU. At the controls in this video is character designer Mari Shimazaki. All she is really doing in this video is pressing a single button, the Punch button. She may occasionally be pressing Kick, but only for the Torture Attack events. With Automatic ON, the game will do the following things for you. 1) Attacks/Jump Attacks Of course attacks go without saying, but automatic jumps are also included. Even if an enemy is in above Bayonetta, the game will jump you up and into a perfect position, then attack. Various combos are automatically triggered, allowing you to enjoy action rich in variety. 2) Dodging This also takes place simply by pressing the Punch button. Of course, if you are caught flat-footed the game won’t forgive you; however, as long as you get the button press timing correct, you will automatically dodge. 
…Of course, as you can tell by watching the video, you will probably end up defeating the enemy before there is ever a need to dodge. (LOL) 3) Warp I don’t really know what I should call this… Immediately after you’ve defeated an enemy, you will head towards a distant enemy and automatically jump off towards them. With this ability you can take down enemies from A to Z. To complement these, even when you are in Automatic mode, you can still move and dodge under your own control as normal, if you so choose. This means you don’t have to play one handed like in the movie. You can weave in your own movement, kicks, and dodges, enjoying a battle packed with originality. You can consider Automatic mode to be a helping hand from an incredibly skilled expert in the game. 
By the way, you can turn Automatic mode on and off anywhere in the game, so you can try a few different play styles I think… If you want to turn it off and get some hands on practice, you can. If you are feeling like, “This is impossible!”Then just turn on Automatic, go back, and try again. Another thing to add, and this one is important. In the easiest mode of the game, Very Easy, we have included the ability to recover your vitality in a few short moments should you take damage. So just in case you happen to run out of health, try to get some space between you and your enemies. But even if you take damage, you won’t take that much, so I don’t think you need to worry about your vitality falling to zero. (LOL) So even if you are a hardcore user or an absolute beginner, I hope you are all looking forward to getting your hands on a controller and seeing what it feels like to dive into the tempest of violence that is Automatic Bayonetta."
So! What's stopping SEGA and NAMCO and every other developer of quality fighting games from doing something similar? This is fantastic news! Accessibility switch users can get hooked up to an Xbox 360 in a variety of ways if they haven't already. Quote taken from the Bayoneta blog. See the original video in high resolution here. All discovered thanks to Tera Kirk's excellent blog at GameCritics.com.

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Heights Electric Elevating Manual Wheelchair

Heights Electric Elevating Manual WheelchairNew from Bromac Assistive Technology is the Heights Electric Elevating Manual Wheelchair. The picture above pretty much says it all. They are a new start-up company from what I can tell and are looking for companies to distribute their product. I did smile when I saw the photo of proprietor David K. Brown. "Hello ladies! Ding Dong!". Very caddish.

See more on alternative wheelchairs from this blog and geekologie.

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