Date: Fri, 27 Feb 2009 21:39:32 -0500
Subject: Re: [Audyssey] Accessible Mainstream Games
Hello Mani. I've been an intermittant listener of In Touch for years. A
well-done show indeed. Your arrival on this list is most timely. Tom Ward
has just galvanised things with the release of his first public beta
of Mysteries of the Ancients. That's woken the list up for certain. Che
Martin is another developer you'll definitely want to chat with. Quite a
of the people currently developing accessible games either had sight or
it. All of our developers have their own interesting stories. As the
and former editor of Audyssey Magazine, I got to know several of them
the years. People get into this for the passion and interest in what they
do. We've certainly come a long way together since I published the first
issue in 96. Ron Schamerhorn's the current editor and has a somewhat
grasp on the state of things these days. Life has pulled me in some
different directions but I still keep an ear on things and try to help
I can. I'd be happy to answer any questions you might have about past
You'll find quite a range of oppinion here concerning what constitutes an
accessible game. I'm happy to see that you've already gotten a few
responses. There are plenty more to be had as the debate is one of long
standing in this community. There is a stronger sense among sighted game
developers these days regarding the use of sound as more than window
dressing. That's going to eventually pay off for us but I don't believe
we're anywhere near that point yet.
Personally, I'm from the old school which says that a game can only be
counted as accessible if blind people can truly play it as it was
to be played and have access to all information. They shouldn't be
handycapped in any way in terms of how far they can get with a game due
being blind. Sight brings an incredible amount of information very
to a person. To be accessible, a great deal of thought must go into the
sound of a game as well as the interface. That means I don't view arcade
games designed for sighted people as technically accessible. We're just
privy to all the information. Playing something via shere memorisation
luck just doesn't count for me. Other people have fun doing that sort of
thing. There was a fellow who is now world famous due to his skill in
playing Mortal Combat.As a child, I used to be more in the "if I can have
fun with it, then it's accessible" camp. My father would take me to
and we'd try to play the videogames together. He'd desperately try to
describe things as fast as possible and I'd be in charge of the controls.
was certainly fun at the time and there was a good degree of cameradery.
However, when you take all the bells and whistles away, I was just
my father's instructions as quickly as possible. I eventually tried a
on my own and found out just how much of the experience I was missing as
got obliterated due to having no idea of the game situation. When you
reduce a game to purely responding to sound cues and memorization, it
being at all the same kind of fun that sighted people enjoy.
There are a number of tragic cases of games which are almost accessible
could easily have been made so to the benefit of all players whether
or blind. The most disappointing one during my editorship of Audyssey was
the North American version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. The
were printed onto the screen rather than read out loud as they are in the
show and apparently in the UK version of the computer game. A very
disappointingly inaccessible Christmas present for our family. Other
like the You Don't Know Jack series are again very close to being
accessible. In fact, for the earlier games in that series, nearly all of
game was. There were some visual questions making reference to pictures
though. Also, there were the jack attacks which flashed up printed clues
information which had to be matched. With some elements like that, it
can become impossible to accomodate. You could have a trivia game with
questions all read aloud and no visual questions but it wouldn't be You
Don't Know Jack. The same goes for such elements in many video games.
simply too small a market to be worth a company's while. That's the major
Author of Personal Power:
How Accessible Computers Can Enhance Personal Life For Blind People
A Life of Word and Sound
Creator and former editor of Audyssey Magazine
Check out my blog at:
----- Original Message -----
From: "Mani Djazmi" <i_am_a_s...@hotmail.com>
Sent: Friday, February 27, 2009 11:11 AM
Subject: [Audyssey] Accessible Mainstream Games
> my name's Mani Djazmi and I'm a reporter on the In Touch programme at
> Radio 4 in England. I'm currently researching a feature on the
> accessability of computer games for blind and partially sighted people.
> The impression I'm getting is that mainstream games generally aren't
> accessible so bespoke ones are being produced. Is this fair? Do any of
> guys play mainstream games and how do you find them?
> I look forward to hearing your thoughts and knowledge.
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If you want to leave the list, send E-mail to
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
please send E-mail to gamers-ow...@audyssey.org.