How You can make a difference

Over the next several weeks you personally can make computer games more accessible.

1. Buy accessible games as gifts (Not necessarily ours, but anyones')
2. Suggest to friends and family that accessible games make good gifts
3. And, most importantly, suggest to everyone who'll stand still for a minute that they tell game companies when they've bought their game because it was accessible.

Our own 7-128 Software recently released Visit Salem, a travelogue game. It includes over 6 hours of audio descriptions, history, architecture, music and interviews. It's also totally inaccessible to players who are blind, deaf, or motion-impaired.

Why? Because it would take an additional 6 months to make it accessible. Even with a code base that includes a lot of accessibility features and useful guidance from John Oliveira, a colleague and head of our Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, and from you folks and other folks I know in the accessibility community.

I'd love to make it accessible to players who are blind, or deaf, or motion-impaired. But the consensus among our management team is that there are too few potential sales to justify the effort and expense, at least at this time.

Game margins are razor slim. Electronic Arts lost tens of millions of dollars this year, also last year. The difference between profit and loss at our small mainstream company is tiny.

Posts by Thomas, Che, and other colleagues suggest that a few more sales could help pay their light bills, too.

Posts by Dark, Mark Barlet, Brian Papineau, and my own experience here suggest that some mainstream game companies do respond positively when you tell them "I buy your stuff because you make it work for me. I buy other people's stuff when you don't"

So, over the next few weeks you personally can either sit on your hands and look forward to a future of not getting the games you want, or you can make a difference. (And yes, I ping Her Interactive when I buy their moderately accessible Nancy Drew mystery games.)

John Bannick
Chief Technical Officer
7-128 Software

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