The course presented in this document is a first of its kind offering to the SIGCHI community, where PhD students, junior researchers, senior academics and game developers can come and learn about how to make games inclusive to the widest range of people, and in particular people with disabilities.
Inclusive design, accessibility, digital games
ACM Classification Keywords
H.5.m. Information interfaces and presentation (e.g., HCI): Miscellaneous;
Duration of Course:
The course will be a full day course consisting of two distinct halves.
Morning Sessions: The Basics of Includification
In the introduction of the course, the instructors will introduce the audience to the different types of players that are out there waiting to play games! Instead of just presenting facts and figures, we will present real stories of players whose lives have been transformed by being able to have access to games.
These stories will then be related to the huge audience of gamers who are currently looking for games to play, and discussions about games that have already captured some of that audience through inclusive design with AbleGamers.
The morning sessions of the course will introduce individuals to the Includification guidelines (Barlet and Spohn, 2014) which have been developed through design practice by the AbleGamers Charity for making games more inclusive to people with disabilities.
We focus on the different types of inclusive features can be integrated into games by designers right from their initial game ideas through to delivery of their game to market.
These inclusive features will range from the very simple, such as having alternative configurations and remappable keys to more advanced techniques where participants will explore the challenges of difficulty settings, speed settings and specific design interventions such as targeting assists.
All of these discussions will reflect on the many challenging research questions that currently open regarding inclusivity in digital games.
Afternoon Session: Pushing the Includification Envelope
In the afternoon sessions the instructors will introduce participants to some of the most interesting challenges and exciting research opportunities that are on the horizon of gaming experiences.
We will present questions that have no answers in research or practice, such as the multitude of issues that are appearing due to the rise of Virtual Reality (VR) games. How do we make VR games more inclusive to people with visual disabilities? Can we draw on real world analogies to help us that were previously unavailable in traditional gaming? What about people who have difficulty reaching or grasping as happens in many VR environments? What are some of the challenges people will run into with current VR and where might we find inspiration for future solutions?
Participants will be divided into teams with the course instructors facilitating a series of design thinking activities to explore these bleeding edge areas, applying the knowledge that was gained in the morning sessions. Groups will think about different personas who will encounter accessibility problems in these new settings and will explore potential solutions. Groups will have the opportunity to playback their solutions to the group to get input from the other participants.
The AbleGamers Foundation will seek to self-publish a white paper on these sessions giving credit to all participants to demonstrate they are thinking about the most innovative areas on inclusive gaming.
This course will be restricted to PhD candidates, researchers and practitioners working in the area of digital games.
There are no formal pre-requisites for this course. We ask only that people come with an open mind about how to push game design to be more inclusive!
The Basics of Includification sessions will consist of a series of short lectures and demonstrations. Participants will be given the opportunity to explore games that have a range of accessibility features, and even evaluate some of their favourite games that they bring with them on their phones or laptops. They can even explore their own games for inclusive features which may help them with future design lifecycles.
Pushing the Includification Envelope sessions will be workshop sessions in small groups. The groups will undertake empathy maps, affinity diagrams and other design thinking activities to explore different issues that are being encountered at the very edge of what we understand about inclusion in gaming.
Christopher Power is a Lecturer in Human Computer Interaction at the University of York and has been an accessibility researcher for over a decade. He brings a wealth of experience in course preparation and delivery, including continuing professional development courses on user experience and accessibility. Christopher has published extensively in accessibility with his publication record being available at: www.cs.york.ac.uk/~cpower/publications.html. Since January 2016 he has been the Vice President of the AbleGamers Foundation working to make games more inclusive for all players.
Mark Barlet is the Founder of the AbleGamers Foundation. When Mark discovered that one of his best friends could no longer play Everquest 2 due to accessibility problems, he started AbleGamers to be a driving force for change in the games industry. Through outreach with disabled communities, free consultancy with game companies, and grants to disabled gamers, AbleGamers now works with and advocates on behalf of gamers around the world to make sure there is a game for everyone. As part of the consultancy work of AbleGamers, Mark has written Includification: A Practical Guide to Game Accessibility (co-author Steve Spohn) to help make as many games as possible inclusive to the broadest group of people with disabilities.
Sample Course Material
This is the first running of this course, and as a result there are no materials yet available for preview.
The Basics of Includification sessions will be based on the our self-published guide Includification: A Practical Guide to Game Accessibility by Mark Barlet and Steve Spohn available for free from: www.includification.com/AbleGamers_Includification.pdf
The sessions on Pushing the Includification Envelope will be drawn from design practices used throughout the user experience industry, drawn from a variety of sources including the book About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design (Reimann, Cronin and Cooper).
All lecture and practical materials for the course will be made available online for participants to access after the course in order to complement the existing Includification resources online.
After the course, the AbleGamers team will prepare and publish a white paper on the solutions explored during the Pushing the Includificiation Envelope session, giving named credit to all individuals who participated and contributed during the course. This will be published through open access so that participants can reference it in their CVs.
This course will be free! Sponsorship of this course will be through the AbleGamers Foundation.