A World First for Game Accessibility

Game Developer's Association of Australia: Game Accessibility Award in 2013

GDAA logo: Game Developer's Association of Australia: Game Accessibility Award in 2013

17 September 2013, this fantastic news cribbed direct from the GDAA site: Australia is leading the world in making games accessibility a priority. The latest demonstration of commitment to enabling a wider cross section of the community be catered for when playing games is the inaugural Accessibility Award announced by the Game Developers’ Association of Australia (GDAA) as part of the 2013 Australian Game Developer Awards. This follows on from the inclusion of accessibility considerations by Film Victoria and Screen Australia when allocating funding to game development projects.

Accessibility in this context means mainstream games that make an effort to avoid unnecessarily excluding people with motor, cognitive, hearing, speech or vision impairments. For more information see Game Accessibility Guidelines.com. Screen Australia’s Investment Manager, Justin Halliday said “Accessibility was one of the key issues raised by the industry during the consultation process for Screen Australia’s new Games Fund. Screen Australia and state agencies like Film Victoria recognise that accessibility in gaming brings some huge benefits, not only the obvious economic benefits of being able to reach wider audiences, but also quality of life, allowing access to culture, entertainment, and socialising for many people who have limited recreation opportunities. “

Accessibility advocates and experts the world over are excited by the news that Australia is not only financially supporting, but also recognising excellence in the field of game accessibility.

“The International Game Developers’ Association (IGDA) Accessibility Special Interest Group (SIG) Co-chair, Michelle Hinn, welcomed the award’s inclusion in the Australian Game Developer Awards, to be held in Melbourne on 22 October. “The Accessibility SIG has been lobbying for inclusion of accessibility categories in industry awards for at least 8 years now. There have been so many “almost…but thanks but no thanks” roads we have been down and I am just simply over the moon that you guys are picking up on an award for this!”

Another Accessibility advocate and expert, Ian Hamilton from the UK, who visited Australia late last year, also pledged his support for these latest initiatives. “From Team Bondi to The Voxel Agents, Global Game Jam to the Film Victoria and Screen Australia funding programmes, Australia has often been at the forefront of accessibility in the games industry. The government and industry support and guidance through the funding programmes in particular has resulted in a local industry with an unsurpassed level of knowledge and understanding about the barriers people can face and how to open up access to as wide an audience as possible.

The accessibility award is a natural next step. Awards have been given in the past by individuals and charities such as AbleGamers in the USA, but this AGDA category is, to my knowledge, the first time that the economic and life changing value of accessibility has been recognised in this way by an internal industry body, which is a really significant and exciting landmark in game accessibility.” Said Hamilton.

Nominations for the Accessibility Award are open until 30 September 2013 come from within the video game development sector and a panel of experts in the field then decide on the winners. For the accessibility award the panel will include international authorities in the field including Hamilton and representatives from the IGDA Accessibility SIG.

The Australian Game Developer Awards include the categories of: Game of the Year, Studio of the Year, Excellence in Art, Excellence in Design, Excellence in Audio, Technical Excellence, Innovation Award, and the Accessibility Award. The awards night will be held on Tuesday 22 October in conjunction with 2013 Game Connect Asia Pacific (GCAP) conference at the Melbourne Conference and Exhibition Centre 21-23 October.

For further information contact

Giselle Rosman
Game Developers’ Association of Australia

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