At the recent ExPlay 12 event I learnt a lot being on stage as part of the game accessibility panel. I'm such a public speaking light-weight (I'd rather crack on with projects that didn't involve taking six Kalms tablets to keep nerves in check), but it wasn't so bad I was surprised to find. It did help to be amongst such knowledgeable and likeable people, and to have a receptive crowd to speak to. Ian Hamilton who was also on the panel hung about later to find out if it had been useful to anyone, and turned these up:
1. The designer who had been struggling with how to make Qube colour blind friendly, but now had the answer
2. The studio director who wants to start pushing some best practices as an insurance policy for when he's an elderly gamer himself
3. The artist with a history of colour blind family members, who had previously had no idea that there was something he could do to help them
4. The designer who now understood that he should be designing for gamers, not designing for himself
5. The developer frustrated that he wasn't taught about accessibility in his Abertay degree, and wants to get a guest lecture set up
6. The final year student stunned by what could be possible just through adding a little flexibility: "my mind has been blown, and I will never think about games in the same way again"
I learnt loads as a member of the audience too. I especially enjoyed one of the final talks, given by Alex Fleetwood of Hide and Seek on social games in public spaces. This was particularly relevant as Johann Sebastian Joust was being hosted at the event to raise funds for SpecialEffect with special thanks to Leanne Baley of Remode and PlayMob.com.
Social public gaming is something I remember well, with kids crowding around multi-player video games in amusement arcades in the late '70s and early '80s. Access is a big issue for the likes of JS Joust, but it doesn't have to be, as Dimitris Grammenos demonstrates with his Shaking Things Up article.