ExPlay '12: Accessibility Panel

Mashed up image of the ExPlay logo for 2012 mixed with a colour-blind test. Beneath are four symbols representing sight, (an eye), input, (a joypad), hearing, (an ear), and cognitive (a brain).

SpecialEffect's Top 5 Tips for Game Developers and Wishlist

Symbol to denote Game Accessibility Information. Please contact me for more details. More to follow on this shortly.

The resources above support the "Accessibility and the Practicalities of Inclusive Design" panel hosted at ExPlay '12 on the 1st of November 2012.

Moderator: Gina Jackson (Women in Games Jobs)

Ian Hamilton (Accessibility Consultant)
Lynsey Graham (Blitz Game Studios)
Barrie Ellis (SpecialEffect and OneSwitch)
Jemma Kamara (Aardman Digital)


Happy Halloween


Team-Tilt-It controller. Mock-up image of four people including a wheelchair user, with a large hooped controller with cross-members leading to a centralised sensor that detects movement.

An interesting team-controller was launched this year at the Closing the Gap Conference: Team-Tilt-It from GameAbles.com.

It looks like a motion-sensitive controller, that could work really well with one-switch games to more complex controls. Would like to see a video of this in action. See the site for more.

Thanks to Jonathan Adams of Switch in Time for the link.


Deep Sleep

Screen shot from Deep Sleep. 8-bit chunky style, phone off a hook on a wooden desk, open window with cursor hovering over, text reads, "it's cold outside".

Deep Sleep finds you lucid-dreaming but trying to wake-up. It's point and click (no right-click needed) with a very simple helpful walk-through guide should you get stuck (I did). You will need quick reactions on occasion  but I don't want to give anything more away. This is a little bit unsettling.


Total Terror


October 2012: Lucky Dip

Two British 10p Capsule toy machines. One with jewellery and one with random capsule toys.

Lot's of positive game accessibility stuff this month, so here's a lucky dip of some of them...

Washington DC Public Library gets an AbleGamers accessible arcade. Opening pictures here.

Children's BBC (CBBC) Television broadcasts across the UK a little on game accessibility and game charity SpecialEffect.

London Game Festival Art Exhbition runs this week at City Hall, with proceeds going to SpecialEffect, backed by the London Mayor.

Réseau Nouvelles Technologies posted some interesting thoughts on switch accessible bowling from the early days of video games to the popular Switch Lanes Bowling game from a few years back.

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Photo of an adapted arcade stick controller, with many plug in sockets, patched to a small black box via five black patch leads, with the box connected to a simple old-fashioned Atari joystick (up, down, left, right and fire).

The C-SID Squid Box is a simple accessory for my C-SID (game Console Switch Interface Deluxe) controllers. It allows you to patch a simple joystick in anyway you like to play many modern console games.

Compatible joysticks include Atari 2600 joysticks, MERU Moozi joystick and a number of wheelchair accessible joysticks too.

One obvious example to me, is in making a driving game more accessible. Push up to accelerate, pull down to brake/reverse and use left/right to steer.

Please get in touch for more details.

Read more »


Shaking Things Up: Can full-body games become more accessible?

Screen shot of Paximadaki, a highly accessible Kinect game that takes into account a broad range of abilities and alternative control methods. The screen shot is of a shadow against a wall, trying to guide falling fruit into a wicker basket.

When games dictate that they can only be played via a very limited method, huge barriers are erected which disable many players.

The majority of games on Xbox using Kinect are Kinect only. The majority of games on iOS are touch-screen only. The majority of Wii games are Wii-remote only. If you can't use that interface, you are shut out. It's a massive problem that can go away for many by offering an alternative or two.

Dimitris Grammenos has blazed a path for others to follow with his brilliant article "Shaking Things Up: Can full-body games become more accessible". And I would love to see this outlook adopted across the gaming world. Two control methods or more for all games, please!

Read more »

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"The Best Accessible Computer Games for Blind Kids"

L.E.D. illuminated braille, with hands running over it.

Blurry image of three kids posing for a photo laying on grass.

Splendid post on "The Best Accessible Computer Games for Blind Kids" over at WonderBaby.org. Well worth a mooch. And not at all related, but a cheerful way to start the day: Manu Dibango - Soul Makossa.


"Game Accessibility?" Event Resources

Screen shot from Shenmue, with the main character Ryo staring at an Out Run arcade game. The in-game option asks, Play? or Can't Play? The overlaid text reads Game Accessibility? 15th October 2012. City University London.

Pinterest board (Game Accessibility resources)
Game Over! (The World's most inaccessible game)
Game Accessibility? (Power Point presentation)

The resources above support the training event hosted at City University London on the 15th of October 2012. Ran by SpecialEffect with support from Ian Hamilton.

The games on show included Konami's incredibly hard Badlands with accessibility switches and Valve's Half-Life 2 with closed-captions and distorted sound. We also used the Cambridge Simulation Gloves and Glasses and a real-time colour-blindness simulator.

Many thanks to Ziming and Wude of the Shenmue Dojo, for the original screen grab of Shenmue.

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LP Pad (Xbox 360)

The LP Pad controller above is from LP Accessible Technologies, due for release at the end of this month. It's a wireless Xbox 360 controller designed to be used by people with arm movement but without fine individual finger control.

Looks like a great product, although this is certainly not the only solution out there for people wanting to play first-person-shooter type games using assistive gaming technology. It's also quite expensive (although understandably) which is always a problem for access in the first place.

Added to the Accessible Gaming Shop in the "Large" section of controllers.

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The Accessibility of Fonts in Games

This free font is called OpenDyslexic. It is designed to be easier to read for many people with Dyslexia. It was created by Aberlardo Gonzalez.

Fonts are an emotive thing. But for some they are critical to a comfortable reading experience. The new YouView TV system has licensed Mencap's FS Me font, designed to be easier for learning disabled people to read (you can buy FS Me here).

The RNIB have long advocated for clear print standards to aid reading for visually impaired people.

Just recently, Aberlardo Gonzalez has freely released a font designed to assist many people with Dyslexia called OpenDyslexic. Which after receiving an e-mail from Techni Myoko saying how great it would be to see this used in games, reminded me of the game "The Pyramid". This Windows XP game enabled you to choose from two-fonts to suit your preference. What a brilliant feature. But how many other games can you think of that offer this?

UPDATE: An alternative font aimed at people with Dyslexia is explained brilliantly in the video below. Known as 'Dyslexie' and available from StudioStudio.nl this is perhaps a more complete solution, but at a price. Many thanks to Ian Hamilton for the link.

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Was such a pleasure to meet Ellie and her family at the superb Little Havens Children's Hospice, early this year, even though Ellie consistently thrashed me at Mario Kart. Stupid game.

The Wii remote needed to be lightened, which was achieved in the main by removing the batteries and placing them in a separate box. A very simple hack, but worked out to be really effective.

I'm wondering if Ellie will be able to use her controller on Just Dance 4 coming out soon for the Wii-U. Hope so.

Link via: SpecialEffect Gamer-Givers

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One Switch Power

The Sub-Mariner, a cartoon figure looking a bit like an evil Bee-Gee with red and white wrestling mask, shades and thin shaggy long moustache.

A picture of the Sub-mariner's finger hovering over a push-button.

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EuroGamer Expo 2012

Mick Donegan, SpecialEffect CEO setting up at EuroGamer.

SpecialEffect had their third outing at the UK's EuroGamer Expo 2012. This time taking a prime spot between the likes of FarCry 3, SimCity, and Assassins Creed 3: Liberation.

Three set-ups were available, being: Portal 3 with highly customised set-up of a chin-mounted joypad and a variety of switches. In the middle was a video show-casing a little of what SpecialEffect is about. On the right was Dirt 3 set-up with eye-gaze control and fastest time competition.

Isaac Harvey won the Dirt 3 competition (pictured playing Halo with his feet below). So good to know a diverse range of people got to understand about game accessibility in this way.

Away from SpecialEffect were a number of games with some good access features. Very much looking forward to pending accessibility boosts to indie-instant-classics DRM and Proteus.

Read more »


Tube Space Invader (1979)

"This 1979 poster pays tribute to the extremely popular Space Invaders video arcade game and encourages passengers to read their newspapers without invading the space of other passengers."

Via Retronaut.




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