Michael Said:
Let's start off with advertising and awareness. To be blunt, it has proved extremely hard to get the word out. I tried all the time while I was editor of Audyssey and I have no doubt Ron has as well. Even when I took opportunities to approach people who you'd think would be predisposed to be receptive, I met largely with a blank

Tom Says:
That has been my experience as well. There are places right here in Ohio such as the Cleveland Sight Center, the Ohio Vision Center, etc and one problem is they generally do training for business oriented applications such as Jaws, Window Eyes, Openbook, Microsoft Office, etc. While they like the idea of accessible games they aren't interested in stepping out of the bounds of business only education and introducing perspective blind computer users to accessible games. Not sure why the polacies are that way, but it is clear they don't want to mix business with entertainment. That leaves us without a very large contributer who is in the best position to spread the word. The problem isn't just with games either. I've offered to help train there instructers in Mac and Linux accessibility in case a perspective client should need that for work or school. Again I met with resistance, and all they seam interested in is the same training courses they've been doing for years. So communicating and introducing new things to these organizations can pose challenging for developers as well as quite frustrating to us who know about other alternatives and technologies that are not getting exposed to the blind community at large.
Michael Said:
Also, where are most of us going to find the money for widespread advertising? That
in itself is a tremendous barrier.

Tom Says:
That is definitely the major problem. Whenever a major company like Activision, Edos, EA Games, etc comes out with a new game they can sspend thousands of dollars to get some television, radio, and news paper adds. The average one man operation doesn't have that kind of money to do it. Mass market add campaigns such as television, radio, and some major news papers are way out of the price range for most one man operations. As a result we have to think up cheaper alternatives to advertising, but if we don't get backing from blind organizations we are just stuck tredding water.

Michael Said:
Look at it another way. Even if I produced a stupendously good game which sold a thousand copies, I'd barely make what an average sighted programmer would consider to be a living. The economics of producing games are very tight. Even a majorly successful developer like Dave Greenwood can't make producing games accessible to blind people a fulltime

Tom Says:
I'd like to add that even big name game companies lose money on games too. They have a larger customer base which helps them make enough to carve out a living, but not every game they create is a big name seller, does well, or make the cut. Sometimes a game expected to do well turns out being labeled a flop when it reaches the mainstream public as has happened many times. For example, Edos Interactive flagshipproduct line, Tomb Raider, has been losing money as well as a customer base over the passed 5 years or so. Tomb Raider was a huge hit the first two, three, and possably the first four games, but now it is not the big name seller it once was. In fact, the latest installment, Tomb Raider Underworld, is being called a flop by game reviewers. Everyone agrees the graphics are stunning, the sound effects are extremely good, the music scoring is the best of all the games, but the lack of a good story line as well as technical details has ranked it much lower than the previous Tomb Raider games. Not to mention the U.S. econemy isn't in good shape so game sales aren't doing well right now to begin with. That kind of disappointing sales, low reviews, hurts the game company who tried to release a big selling title, and in Edos case recapture the glory they had 10 years ago when Tomb Raider was the rave. Point being is that even if you create a game, mass market it, there is no assurance it will do well. If Edos can't do it with a flagship product based on there number one game series how can we small timers hope to do better?

Michael Said:
You need to bring sighted people into the equasion. While they might find the idea of a sound-based game a novelty worth paying for, that interest just doesn't seem to last very long. I've found it pretty nearly impossible to interest sighted people in playing an audio game for very long at all. They simply
need things to look at.

Tom Says:
That also has been my experience. I've tried getting my wife, mother, dad, etc interested playing this or that audio game with me and they have no desire to play it. My wife says, "it is boring." That is really too bad as games like Jim Kitchen's Monopoly is a great time waister, but no graphics and my family gets really board really quick. As you said sometimes they just need something to look at to be truly interested.

Michael Said:
 It's a very tough sell. As a  blind developer, I would have major
reservations about getting somebody to create graphics for my game. Good graphics cost even more money and I'd never know precisely what I had bought other than through hearing what other sighted people said about them. Would the world I create be well represented or would the graphics alter what people took away from the game for the worse?

Tom Says:
This has been a long standing issue for accessible game developers. In addition to the cost of graphics, not being able to see what you created, and it being very technically complicated to program the way audio games works are often different from those our sighted players play. For example, in MOTA Beta 2 when the v key is pressed the game is paused, and all of the items in the room are placed into a list so you can arrow up and down and look at the various things in the room. This works for a blind gamer, but for a sighted player having the graphics and game just freeze like that while the blind person takes the time to carefully look at everything is a major show stopper. You can't interest a sighted player into that kind of game, because sighted games are non-stop action. They can see it so no need to put everything into a list and review it. So the way I might play a game and my wife plays a similar game can be completely different. We have to totally rethink the game development process so that the games audio accurately conveys to the blind gamer the same thing the sighted player is seeing on screen. Not impossible, but not easy either.

Michael Said:
There are certainly ways of providing the same sort of experience while still being legal about it. Do a search on Google for Asteroids clones and you'll find a ton of them for sighted people. The same goes for Space Invaders, Pac Man and many other classic titles. All of them have sufficient differences from the original games so that their owners don't get sued. I believe we have a number of examples of people
who have approached this  whole dilemma quite well.

Tom Says:
Exactly. Take Mysteries of the Ancients as an example. It is not a clone of Tomb Raider made accessible. It is a game likeTomb Raider that is made accessible. In that way since I have a totally different story, characters, sounds, music etc the game is different enough that I can't be sued by Edos Interactive over it. This way I feel blind gamers can experience a game like Tomb Raider without me having to worry about copyright entanglements. As far as Asteroid, Packman, and Space invader clones goes I can name several. There are a number of free games for Linux that are clones of one game or another such as Vectoroids (a clone of Asteroids,) KPackman (a clone of Packman,) Breakout (a clone of Super Breakout,) Penguin Command (an interesting clone of Missile Command,) etc. If game companies tried to chase down every single case of cloning they would wind up spending more in court fees than they would likely get back inrewards. Besides as you pointed out there often little differences that makes the game legal in the first place.

Michael Said:
To truly change things, you'd need a fully accessible game which had the same success as something like Space Invaders or Trivial Pursuit. Something which was utterly original and released at that magical right time where it grabbed hold of society
as a whole.

Tom Says:
In order to do that you really have to have the right idea at the right time. It takes a lot of creativity and imagination to really get people excited in your game idea or story. Big name ideas like Star Wars, Star Trek, Harry Potter, Tomb Raider, you name it just happened to be introduced at the right time and place that it grabbed a lot of peoples imagination. It takes a certain type of person to pull that off and usually that is a once in a life time experience. It is easy to forget how many books, movies, games, etc didn't make the cut for whatever reason. This actually makes a very strong case for why game developers base games on something else more well known. We want to recaptue the magic, fun, and experience of games that were huge and are now forgotten about by our mainstream peers. If you have never experienced that game before it is truly a first time experience. A first real chanse to experience what most sighted gamers take for granted. Sometimes a tried and true game is likely to sell better than one totally original. All depends on what you personally are looking for when buying.

Gamers mailing list __ Gamers@audyssey.org
If you want to leave the list, send E-mail to gamers-unsubscr...@audyssey.org.
You can make changes or update your subscription via the web, at
All messages are archived and can be searched and read at
If you have any questions or concerns regarding the management of the list,
please send E-mail to gamers-ow...@audyssey.org.

Reply via email to