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AbleGamers Reviews Games From a Disability Standpoint

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the gaming-for-all dept.

Games 125

eldavojohn writes "Early last month a visually impaired gamer sued Sony under the Americans with Disabilities Act (and if you think that people with disabilities don't play games, think again). The AbleGamers Foundation has decided to step forward and provide a rating system for games that blends together a number of factors to determine a score with regard to accessibility. Visual, hearing, motion, closed captioning, speed settings, difficulty settings and even colorblindness options are all taken into account when compiling these scores and reviewing these games."

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Not good enough (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30294982)

The rating should also take into account how many of the NPCs are black Jewish vegetarian lesbian quadriplegic single mothers.

Re:Not good enough (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30295208)

Oh fuck off, motherfucking piece of shit

Re:Not good enough (1)

doti (966971) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295334)

is a game with just one button good enough?

like this one [google.com] (sfcave in 3d. defaults to two-button mode, but the one-button mode works mostly the same)

also, this article [gamasutra.com]

Good news (4, Funny)

azior (1302509) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295028)

I know a game for people with a handicap: golfing

On a serious note: this is good news, gaming/entertainment could get really mature

Re:Good news (1)

Game Casa (1172305) | more than 4 years ago | (#30298440)

I know a game for people with a handicap: golfing

Need to mind the hazards though: sand-traps and cocktail waitresses with voicemail...

King Arthur--www.gamecasa.net

The equivalent... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30295054)

...of forcing Hollywood to make all movies accessible to the blind.

I feel sorry for those with disabilities, but be realistic. Game producers don't need the extra delays and budgetary nonsense programming in these concessions to the disabled would bring.

Re:The equivalent... (3, Insightful)

ynohoo (234463) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295380)

Sometimes it as as simple as subtle changes during the planning phase. As someone whose hands shake too much for FPS and RTS, I was happy enough with TBS and Adventure games. So I was happily playing Myst 4, only to discover the designers had decided that a couple of puzzles weren't hard enough (vibrating crystal puzzle & monkey puzzle), so they had stuck timers on them! Could you disable or adjust the timer? No, sorry shaky hand player, game over.

Re:The equivalent... (4, Insightful)

dintlu (1171159) | more than 4 years ago | (#30297068)

I think a part of the reason developers ignore the challenges disabled gamers face is because there are so many different types of disability, each of which raises very specific challenges that a non-disabled developer might not have the time or inclination to understand and work around.

When you add that to the normal considerations - storyline objectives, gameplay objectives, internal politics, budgetary concerns, etc., it's not surprising that the disabled are completely marginalized and occasionally screwed by silly decisions like the one you've described.

I think if the disabled want games to have a "mode" of gameplay specifically for them, they need to demonstrate that they are a viable market whose demands are easily met. The gaming review site is excellent - it raises awareness, but disabled gamers might be better off soliciting the ADA or some other organization to set up a system for determining a game's viability for different types of disabled gamers, ultimately placing a label on the packaging with this information.

Re:The gameplay (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | more than 4 years ago | (#30300340)

Gameplay is something we haven't figured out for non-handicapped players. My gf was complaining about a game, all movement is controlled by using the mouse. Move it forward to walk, move sideways to turn, restore to where it was to stop turning.

If you're disabled and would rather use keyboards, it's not an option in this game. If you're not disabled, it's still not an option.

Ensuring all controls are programmable would go a long way to helping everyone, not just the disabled (or just my gf, which would improve my standard of living).

Early in the process, someone decides the game should be controlled this way, and it affects a lot of other decisions. You can't make a WII game that suddenly requires a keyboard to solve a puzzle, or switch weapons fast enough to defeat a boss, so the gameplay sits on those decisions.

Is it possible to lock onto a target and walk around? Or do you omit locking and strafe instead, making the user strafe and rotate simultaneously to avoid being hit while remaining on target? Are the fire and strafe/lock buttons ones you can hold at the same time (preferably different hands) or do you have to hold both the triangle and x buttons while pushing L2? These things need to be abstracted away so anyone can play any game with any input device. A NES controller with USB hack on the end, or mind reading, or voice, or keyboard, or mouse plus anything else, should be equally possible. Not equally successful as I've pointed out, but possible.

If one particular board or puzzle requires certain faculties, that should be clearly labeled (parkinson's might cause problems playing because the aiming system sucks, blindness might leave out details because it's supposed to be a surprise reveal but we didn't include subtitles because no one's talking).

Re:The equivalent... (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#30296588)

uh, no. Left4dead2 has a caption option even.

Re:The equivalent... (1)

Hasney (980180) | more than 4 years ago | (#30297094)

uh, no. Left4dead2 has a caption option even.

And that doesn't need it more than "Noise of zombies being gunned down"

Re:The equivalent... (1)

pwfffff (1517213) | more than 4 years ago | (#30298112)

Actually, enabling it's practically cheating. When you're huddled in a corner with three shotguns and a chainsaw going off it's much easier to see *Tank roar* than it is to hear him growling in the distance.

Sueing? (4, Insightful)

tsa (15680) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295078)

Isn't sueing Sony because you can't play a game because you're visually impaired the same as, say, sueing Warner Brothers because you can't watch the Harry Potter movies? You can't expect people, and especially corporations, to cater to every type of handicap in a single product.

Re:Sueing? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30295134)

Stop being a retard

This is not the article you're looking for. (2, Insightful)

Psaakyrn (838406) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295142)

Offtopic. Your issue is relevant for that other topic about the sight-disabled suing Sony (which we already had a lengthy discussion about, and linked in the topic itself), but this is about giving ratings to games based on specific disabilities, which is a much better alternative.

Re:Sueing? (2, Informative)

agnosticnixie (1481609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295218)

You can make movies accessible to the blind actually. It's called descriptive audio.

Re:Sueing? (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295338)

You can make movies accessible to the blind actually. It's called descriptive audio.

Sounds to me about as fulfilling one of the South Park episodes where there's this like über-epic battle going on, except they don't actually show the battle, only the kids watching it and saying stuff "this is the best battle ever", "bigger than LotR" and "man, I wish I had a camera". Don't remember which episode that was, but "movies for the blind" can't be much better. Then I'd rather go with audio books, at least they're written with that in mind that people can't actually see the characters and have to imagine it.

Re:Sueing? (1)

agnosticnixie (1481609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295398)

That's because you're used to seeing - besides, considering movie theory is obsessed about music and ambiant sound and what not about which I don't really care (deafness), there's likely something more to a movie than to a book reading, no matter how well done.

Re:Sueing? (1)

asdf7890 (1518587) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295714)

Sounds to me about as fulfilling one of the South Park episodes where there's this like über-epic battle going on, except they don't actually show the battle, only the kids watching it and saying stuff "this is the best battle ever", "bigger than LotR" and "man, I wish I had a camera". Don't remember which episode that was, but "movies for the blind" can't be much better. Then I'd rather go with audio books, at least they're written with that in mind that people can't actually see the characters and have to imagine it.

I think that would be the fight between Timmy and Jimmy in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cripple_Fight [wikipedia.org] though my memory is hazy.

Re:Sueing? (2, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30296154)

It's been around a lot longer than Southpark. I remember back in the early '90s the BBC ran a small-scale trial where they encoded a descriptive audio track in the flyback period (replacing teletext, I think, but possibly in some of the unused parts) so that blind people could 'watch' TV shows. As I recall, they also suggested that it would be useful for people hiding behind the sofa while watching Doctor Who (which should give you some idea of how long ago it was).

Re:Sueing? (2, Interesting)

Your.Master (1088569) | more than 4 years ago | (#30299792)

Let me tell you, until you've watched the Imagination-land part 1 episode in descriptive video, you have NEVER truly seen South Park.

Sadly, parts 2 and 3 were done with a different voice actor who seems to be a moron whose writer wasn't paying attention. But the first one is fan-bloody-tastic.

Re:Sueing? (3, Informative)

dingen (958134) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295370)

That's why DVD's come with an extra audio track which contains "audio description". It's basically a voice telling you what is happening on the screen, making the movie accessible to both the blind and people who can't watch the screen for some other reason (walk to the kitchen, driving in a car, etc).

In the UK, it's very common to have this audio description track available on TV as well. The law mandates that at least 10% of all prime time television has audio description included, but in practice a lot more than 10% of the shows include this.

Some cinema's also offer audio description through an ear piece, which blind people can pick up at the ticket booth. That way the blind and non-blind can enjoy a movie together in the same theater.

Re:Sueing? (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295420)

Really? Cool, we don't have all that stuff here in NL.

Re:Sueing? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295720)

But you do have subtitles.

Re:Sueing? (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295942)

Yes, thank God and Allah for those. I love them because you can hear the actual voices of the actors instead of some voiceover who doesn't sync with the mouth movements.

Re:Sueing? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#30296220)

Or when it's an interview (or a commentary in a documentary) and they leave the original voice in but speak the translation over it so you can't hear either properly. French language channels seem particularly prone to that.

Re:Sueing? (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 4 years ago | (#30296576)

Better than the American channels who seem to put subtitles for people speaking English with an accent. People with accents aren't that hard to understand.

Re:Sueing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30296686)

How is that better? Sure, subtitles on accents might be insulting, but just because they aren't hard to understand for you, doesn't mean they aren't hard to understand. Most movie-goers are used to the california/mid-western accent and its tough when someone is constantly stressing the wrong syllables or using the wrong vowel sound. It's hardly racially motivated.

While having two sets of voices talking over eachother is downright irritating. There's a reason people tend to not talk at the same time, its that our ear's signal processing sucks when the sound is coming from the same area, such as the TV.

Your comment just screams 'knee-jerk response'.

Re:Sueing? (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 4 years ago | (#30298522)

Better than the American channels who seem to put subtitles for people speaking English with an accent. People with accents aren't that hard to understand.

Depends. I'm neither visually nor hearing impaired, yet I have closed-captioning on all the time, and turn on subtitles on movies (and games). What I've found is sometimes the audio mixing can be so bad the voice gets drowned out by some noise or music. Or sometimes the accent is heavy enough that it's an English-like language, but hard to actually hear. The producers are probably being extra careful because not everyone will have the skills to actually break through an accent (think about all those complaints about Indian call center tech support).

Of course, the sin here is when the subtitling/closed captioning happens at the same time the in-movie subtitles are displayed. Then it becomes an unreadable mess.

Re:Sueing? (2, Informative)

dingen (958134) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295792)

Yes, really. In the Netherlands this is not a widely known technique, but it has been used on some films. DVD's which are available with audio description (as far as I know of) include Blind, Zwartboek, De Storm, Oorlogswinter and Bride Flight.

A few cinema's, including CineMec in Ede and City in Utrecht have shown these films with audio description available through an ear piece.

Re:Sueing? (1)

loonwings (1519397) | more than 4 years ago | (#30298392)

*cinemas

Re:Sueing? (1)

dingen (958134) | more than 4 years ago | (#30298840)

Thanks. I always appreciate people who value good spelling and point out flaws. It really helps. I wish I could edit my comment, but I'll remember this for future writing nonetheless.

Re:Sueing? (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295582)

I would have thought that blind folk would have the common sense to save money on special effects-laden Hollywood crap (which the Daily Star reading knuckle-draggers see as "high entertainment") and buy a decent audio book.

Still, with so little common sense in the general population anyway, I suppose you can't help some of it purveying minorities. They are human too, after all.

There is a lot of money involved (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295638)

and there were there are millions and millions to be made, common sense does not apply. Only convoluted readings of the law which end the desired result of the plaintiff.

In other words, games became an issue after all those stories in the news about how much money they made in X days of release. The ADA was practically crafted as a gift to lawyers, the handicap might have actually ranked second, no probably third after special interest groups (defined as people who take offense for others provided their is profit involved)

Re:Sueing? (1)

Eightbitgnosis (1571875) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295740)

What do you mean these bicycles aren't wheelchair accessible?!

Re:Sueing? (1)

dingen (958134) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295812)

Just get a model that is [westseattleblog.com] .

Re:Sueing? (2, Insightful)

deep2k (640705) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295778)

I'm colourblind (deuteranope) and I can't play Gears of War because I can't see the ammo on the ground. An in-game option would have ensured my purchase...

Re:Sueing? (2, Interesting)

yuna49 (905461) | more than 4 years ago | (#30296764)

I have a mild red/green color blindness and find some games with color codings difficult to navigate. I had an especially hard time distinguishing the green and yellow elements in Chrono Cross where color is a primary component of the game play.

Re:Sueing? (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295830)

Isn't sueing Sony because you can't play a game

Why are you dragging Sue's name through the mud?

Re:Sueing? (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295980)

Because I wasn't sure if it's 'sueing' or 'suing' or something else.

Re:Sueing? (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#30296148)

Well, would you like me to Google that for you [lmgtfy.com] ?

Just started to look at their site (5, Interesting)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295082)

I have just started to look at their site and the first thing that I notice as the page was loading was that the pictures that you click on near the top to go to choose the platform all have the same alt text of "xbox reviews". That will be confusing for someone using a screen reader.

I thought the whole layout seemed a bit complicated and confusing, with javascript menus and a very busy interface. Gray text on a gray background seems an odd choice for the color blind people out there.

Still, at least they are raising public awareness. Even if you don't think that game makers should HAVE to provide support for all disabilities, this kind of site fills in the role that most game reviewers would not consider.

Re:Just started to look at their site (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295328)

You're right. They aren't called 'AbleGamers' for nothing, I guess.

Re:Just started to look at their site (1)

Eraesr (1629799) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295410)

And the XBox image link ends up on a 404 page, which doesn't actually tell you that a 404 HTTP error has occurred, except for the "404" title of the page.
It's a very unfriendly site for people with disabilities, which strikes me as odd, given the intention of the site.

Re:Just started to look at their site (1)

jbezorg (1263978) | more than 4 years ago | (#30298424)

I just ran a quick section 508 compliance test on the AbleGamers Foundation site. Most of the links on the home page fall below minimal contrast level, CSS uses fixed font sizes ( px, em, pt, etc. ) rather than a relative percentage to allow visually impaired to change font size, etc.. If you're curious about web accessibility, the following resources are a good place to start.

jimthatcher.com [jimthatcher.com]
firefox.cita.uiuc.edu [uiuc.edu]

Re:Just started to look at their site (1)

Ablegamers (1535325) | more than 4 years ago | (#30300136)

We do have a screen reader version of the main site, it is not perfect but is a good try given the tools we are using. http://ablegamers.com/?template=beez [ablegamers.com] . Also, 508 has lots of parts, but for the web the main disability is the blind and deaf (for multimedia content). We have looked at our demographic and shockingly (no not really) the totally blind are not big consumers of Left 4 Dead 2. That said the other 90+ % of the disabled community are. That is why we do not even rate a game based on it's playability for the blind. So while we have a screen reader portion of most our site, and all of the content converted to MP3 for consumption via an iPod the totally blind person is not really a target, nor are they a target of the mainstream gaming market (why the lawsuit is not going to go anywhere). We are all for web accessibility, and we are doing out best with the tools we have made available.

Website (2, Insightful)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295118)

They don't seem to have a very accessible website. Quick glance of their code didn't show any css for the blind. And the big sliding image thing in the middle doesn't look very accessible either.

Re:Website (2, Insightful)

dingen (958134) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295394)

Blind people don't need special CSS. As long as a website's markup is proper, semantic, standard-compliant (X)HTML, the screen reader won't have any problems parsing it.

Re:Website (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30295800)

It's not that much of a problem with the screen reader parsing pages, the problem is more often that you can't navigate the pages without a mouse.

Re:Website (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30295744)

Yes, CSS or a similar technology SHOULD be applied to all interfaces - DVD menus, Games, on-line media. I saw this as a big issue when trying to navigate a music DVD I had - only to find the interface worse than a simple list of contents.

The fact is that technology should empower disabled people, allowing them to accomodate for their disability. Windows OS implements accessability options and so should gaming consoles.

Re:Website (2, Informative)

Ablegamers (1535325) | more than 4 years ago | (#30296742)

For the record, the site has a screenreader side. You can see the code for the screen read users at the top at the start of the body. http://ablegamers.com/?template=beez [ablegamers.com] it is not perfect but it is far better than the main site and we have loads of blind readers that say it is okay. We also have all the content converted into audio format for consumption on a iPod or other device. http://ablegamers.com/audio-ablegamers/AbleGamers-in-Your-Ear.html [ablegamers.com] We also understand that our target demographic is not the totally blind gamer...

How insensitive! (1)

billsayswow (1681722) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295186)

Reviewing games from a disability "stand"point? That offends me, as I am wheelchair bound. At least they didn't offend my blindness by using the phrase "from a disability point of view". But seriously, I think the website is a pretty neat idea as yes, many disabled people do game. And even if you aren't disabled, it makes for a helpful guide if you have to buy a gift for someone that is. I think the really nifty aspect is how they assess it for colour-blindness. One of my best friends is strongly red-green colour-blind, and is a gamer, and often does have a bit of trouble (Such as with RTSes and team colours or with FPSes and red team players at a distance.)

Re:How insensitive! (1)

billsayswow (1681722) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295214)

Though, I will add, the bit about the lawsuit is rather excessive. While, yes, I see why there are laws that govern things like handicap accessibility in buildings and jobs, but when you're playing what is, essentially, visual media... that's starting to stretch it. Thanks to nerve damage sustained from a Hot Wheel car when I was a kid, I am unable to diverge my eyes.... maybe I could sue the Magic Eye people.

Handy-capable People Don't Kill People (1)

grahamlord86 (1603545) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295418)

At least these Handy-capable folks won't need Jack Thomson to protect them from violent video games... The visually impaired might have trouble effectively wielding a knife while trying to kill a school bully in a GTA impersonation.

fps idea (1)

jlebrech (810586) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295484)

Reminds me of this idea for an FPS I had whereby you're a soldier that get blinded in battle and gets given new eyes but instead of standard vision it's distance-vision.

Projection and Denial (1)

simoncpu was here (1601629) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295520)

Instead of suing and getting angry at the world, this guy should just have the serenity to accept the things that he can't change and move on with his life. This is the way the world works, and we can't do anything about it...

Perhaps It's The Geek Who Is In Denial (3, Insightful)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295660)

Instead of suing and getting angry at the world, this guy should just have the serenity to accept the things that he can't change and move on with his life.

But there can be change - and the law and the lawsuit often makes it happen.

Closed captioning and subtitles have become so much a part of home video that their absence - in a Netflix stream, for example - comes as a surprise.

Re:Projection and Denial (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30295990)

You may not be able to change a disability, but a piece of code can be changed or have features added.

If there was something you enjoyed, but had a hard time doing, you're saying you would just give up on it?

Re:Projection and Denial (1)

agnosticnixie (1481609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30296100)

So you don't use glasses, computers or agriculture, right?

Re:Projection and Denial (1)

thesandtiger (819476) | more than 4 years ago | (#30297440)

You can't do anything about it because you're a sheep, and you're willing to accept whatever the world hands you as the way it is because you don't have the gumption to try and make things better. This guy does.

A reasonable person adapts themselves to the world; an unreasonable person adapts the world to themselves; all progress is made by unreasonable people.

Re:Projection and Denial (1)

simoncpu was here (1601629) | more than 4 years ago | (#30299138)

You can lie to yourself that you can adapt and have the "gumption to try and make things better", and attempt to make yourself feel superior by calling realistic people as sheep. Sometimes we just have to realize that physical limitations are real; don't force yourself into something that you're not. There are always alternative activities aside from computer games.

Good luck climbing Mt. Everest on a wheelchair!

Re:Projection and Denial (1)

thesandtiger (819476) | more than 4 years ago | (#30299708)

It's very sad that you're essentially handicapping yourself by being so meek and accepting.

And a one-legged man has in fact, climbed Mount Everest.

http://www.distant.ca/UselessFacts/fact.asp?ID=129 [distant.ca]

Here's a double-amputee who did it:

http://www.brighthub.com/education/special/reviews/38900.aspx [brighthub.com]

Even when we try and fail, we at least tried. You don't even care to do that. I feel nothing but pity for you.

Re:Projection and Denial (1)

simoncpu was here (1601629) | more than 4 years ago | (#30300124)

It is very sad that you're essentially handicapping yourself by having the need to prove something. You feel offended by people that believe that it's more worthwhile and satisfying to accept yourself as you are, instead of pretending that your limitations would magically disappear by performing seemingly impossible feats. To be at peace with one's self is a far more effective way of coping for one's disabilities instead of overcompensating.

Sure, go ahead and climb Mt. Everest on a wheelchair! The fact is still there that you're an amputee. Don't sue people for making mountain climbing so difficult!

Re:Projection and Denial (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30299952)

You know what's entirely unlike climbing Mt. Everest on a wheelchair?

Playing a video game in a wheelchair!

The lawsuit wasn't about making a drawing game accessible to the blind, or a singing game accessible to the mute. It was about taking reasonable steps to make a product usable to a broader market segment. It's more on the level of providing wheelchair ramps than wheelchair mountaineering equipment. You can, in fact, travel uphill in a wheelchair. Claiming that you can't and should just accept the fact is not being realistic, it's being an asshole.

I don't necessarily agree with the lawsuit, and frankly I can't be bothered to look up the whole case. But I definitely don't agree with your argument, which seems to essentially be that trying to do something hard is a sign of poor moral character.

This is the way the world works, and we can do something about it.

Re:Projection and Denial (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30300402)

The thing about the Americans w/Disabilities Act is that there is no formal enforcement agency, so the only way to get the law to work for you is to sue. So if a person wants to go into a store, but doesn't have access, you call a lawyer or you just suck it up. Civil rights anyone? Correct me if I'm wrong on this.

alex

me good idea have!!1! (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295536)

me play modern marfare 2 not so good because me have thinky trouble. me lawyer friend make activision give me special button i press make me win easy. now me win every time make me happy. everyone should have lawyer friend make everyone give you what you want then everyone be happy like me.

I'm starting up a new website too! (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295622)

It's to rate websites which review content for disabled people on criteria relating to how easily accessible their website is to the disabled. I apply the details and recommendations supplied by W3's Web Accessibility Initiative Evaluation Overview [w3.org]

So far, the games they review score significantly higher than the AbleGamers website.

Re:I'm starting up a new website too! (1)

Ablegamers (1535325) | more than 4 years ago | (#30299998)

For the record, the site has a screenreader side. You can see the code for the screen read users at the top at the start of the body. http://ablegamers.com/?template=beez [ablegamers.com] [ablegamers.com] it is not perfect but it is far better than the main site and we have loads of blind readers that say it is okay. We also have all the content converted into audio format for consumption on a iPod or other device. http://ablegamers.com/audio-ablegamers/AbleGamers-in-Your-Ear.html [ablegamers.com] [ablegamers.com] We also understand that our target demographic is not the totally blind gamer... You may not know this, but there are a lot of other disabilities other than blindness... and that is the main one that W3 looks at. As I said, the totally blind is not a large demographic for the video game market Oh, and BTW, your link does not work

Accessibility Ratings? Good. Lawsuit? No. (3, Insightful)

KermodeBear (738243) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295732)

I suffer from very strong red/green color blindness, which can be very problematic for me in some games. I was happy to see that L4D, and L4D2 include a 'color blindness' option that change some of the colors in the game so that they are easier for me to see.

Having a ratings system, even if it isn't an official one, is a nice idea.

The lawsuit though... Not so much. I don't see any legal basis for it. Someone with no legs shouldn't sue Ford because it is hard to drive.

Re:Accessibility Ratings? Good. Lawsuit? No. (3, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30296204)

That really surprises me. Testing for red-green colour blindness issues is one of the standard things that you do when designing a graphical user interface. It's easy; on most platforms you can map the red and green channels together so you get a rough idea of how our UI will look to colour blind people before you even send it off for testing (and there are a number of automated tests you can run for other common forms of colour perception problems). These affect so many people that if you sell more than ten copies of your program you're likely to have at least one user who will complain if you don't. I'm astonished that it isn't a part of the testing process for games.

Re:Accessibility Ratings? Good. Lawsuit? No. (1)

yuna49 (905461) | more than 4 years ago | (#30296816)

Trust me, it doesn't seem like a common practice in website design either. I don't think many web designers consider color-blindness at all.

Not to sound sexist, but I wonder if this has something to do with the higher proportion of women engaged in graphic design. Color-blindness is so rare in their gender that most women I know never think about it as a potential problem.

Re:Accessibility Ratings? Good. Lawsuit? No. (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 4 years ago | (#30296926)

That really surprises me. Testing for red-green colour blindness issues is one of the standard things that you do when designing a graphical user interface.

Is testing for red-green color blindness even a standard procedure done for children?

I remember one of my classmates discovered he was red-green color blind during 5th grade art class because the instructor had us pass around a book that included the color blindness tests. The teacher honestly thought he was joking when he said he couldn't see any numbers.

Re:Accessibility Ratings? Good. Lawsuit? No. (2, Interesting)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 4 years ago | (#30297574)

That's how I found out. People thought I was kidding when I said I couldn't read the ishihara tests.

It's a bitch of a disability too, I've had many job opportunities pulled from me because of it, and the misunderstanding of what color blindness actually is.

Why is that a problem? Because the government doesn't consider color blindness a real disability. Increasing numbers of jobs tack on 'normal color vision' into their job descriptions because some person up the chain thought it would be a good thing to toss in.

I once had to fight for my job as a test engineer because I worked with aircraft. Naturally the government decided that since it dealt with aircraft, you had to have normal color vision. Because you know how important color vision is when testing god damned communication links.

I had to go to vision specialists to 'prove' that I could do my job. It took 2 months to get everything sorted out.

Too many people don't understand what this disability is, and think it is ok to just slap the 'normal color vision' requirement into a job without actually considering what that means.

Re:Accessibility Ratings? Good. Lawsuit? No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30300140)

Out of curiosity, what are some of those other jobs that require normal colour vision (but don't actually require it for any reason), besides the aircraft tech job?

The only things that come to mind offhand as legitimate reasons are high-speed vehicle use and various visual designers, and actually the world could use more colourblind visual designers, but they'd really have to work with a colour-sighted person. Maybe somebody who monitors some piece of hardware or software that is itself inaccessible but has no easy replacement.

Re:Accessibility Ratings? Good. Lawsuit? No. (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30297508)

It's not really that simple. I have a major red green problem, but I can see raw red (#ff0000) and green (#00ff00) just fine when set that way by a computer. I can see the red Christmas ball on the green tree as red and green. It's when the red and green begin to approach each other on the way to yellow (#ffff00) where problems arise. For example, I have a hellish time with green and red LEDs from a distance. Color me happy when blue LEDs showed up. ;-)

I think it's a resolution problem, because if I get my eye right up to the LEDs I'm all, oh, that one is red and that one is green, but from across the room they both look about #a0a000

I actually do GUI work. I add a little blue to the green (#00ff40) and that helps. I think that's roughly what they do with traffic lights.

I *have* seen recognition of it in some games. For example, I played an RPG recently (Star Ocean, I think?) that, when you compared two pieces of equipment, worse stats were red and better stats were blue, not green.

Re:Accessibility Ratings? Good. Lawsuit? No. (1)

mattbee (17533) | more than 4 years ago | (#30297388)

Yes, any game where the ability to tell red from green is crucial has always landed it in the bin for me. The worst example was the 11th Hour, where the very first puzzle involved sorting red and green books on a shelf. I spent about 45 minutes with the bloody things dancing in front of me, thinking I'd succeeded when if I looked away, and back again, the colours swapped back. A total failure, though maybe I saved myself from a bad game anyway. I think Popcap were the first I remember adding a "colourblind mode" where they change the *shapes* of objects that you need to tell apart, as well as moving away from the hazy red/green/yellow distinction.

Never had a problem with L4D though - if it shambles, shoot it :)

Re: and if you think that people with disabilit... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30295848)

From TFA:

and if you think that people with disabilities don't play games...

...you're a dick. I'm not sure what you are if you think people think that.

This is absolute nonesense (2, Interesting)

executivechaos (1576131) | more than 4 years ago | (#30295956)

If you're blind...guess what? You're never doing to drive a car. End of story.

If you have no legs or can't walk, you're never going to learn karate and becoming a kickboxing champion. End of story
There are certain things, of course yes we can make more accessible to the disabled, but I'm sorry, gaming is NOT one of them. A recreation that refines split second reflex and hand eye coordination SHOULD NOT BE MUCKED UP so someone with fucking parkinsons can play it 'easier'.
If you have Parkinson? Sorry you simply can play games that require a steady refined hand. END OF STORY.
I know im going to get modded as troll / flamebait but i am SICK TO DEATH of people who are PHYSICALLY LIMITED EXPECTING TO BE ABLE TO DO THINGS AS IF THEY ARE NOT: REALITY CHECK, YOU CAN'T AND YOU NEVER WILL, DEAL WITH IT

Re:This is absolute nonesense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30296068)

Reality check yourself, buddy: not all games are graphical and based on reflexes. Blind people can play MUDs and text adventure games, and people who have trouble using a mouse should have no problem playing turn-based games, e.g. Fallout. In fact, I have no disabilities and prefer games that don't rely on hand-eye coordination, but obviously YMMV.
As for colourblind people, adding a "colourblind" mode can be done in any game, and I see it as an option more and more often, thanks to awareness campaignes such as this one.

Re:This is absolute nonesense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30296102)

educate yourself before you post. blind people can drive. look up bi-optic driving program. gaming can be done by people with disabilities, all they need is their breath or one finger.

Re:This is absolute nonesense (1)

agnosticnixie (1481609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30296118)

Adding features and options doesn't take off your enjoyment, you just keep them off that's all, and you can go back to gazing your navel all you want.

Re:This is absolute nonesense (1)

Shados (741919) | more than 4 years ago | (#30296274)

These features and options have to be implemented. In an industry that is already extremely cutthroat with tight schedules and a revenue model that normally involves taking a loss on 9 product in the hope that the 10 will be a multi billion dollar hit ready for chrismas, that means that every single feature that gets implemented that was not absolutely necessary, is one less bug fixed, one less normal stage added, one less part voice acted.

Re:This is absolute nonesense (1)

Ablegamers (1535325) | more than 4 years ago | (#30297486)

That said, most of the accessible features we are looking for are part of good design practices 101. For the most part we are not asking for special stuff, we want the game to have remappable keys, or played with a mouse, or remappable buttons on a controller. Not hard stuff. Also keep in mind that 17% of the population is disabled. A few accessible feature may just help you be that next blockbuster. As for the rest of your comments, those are all different departments, and I am sure that the voice actor is not being asked to fix bugs... it is kind of a strawman argument you are making.

Operating system deficiencies (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30298638)

we want the game to have remappable keys, or played with a mouse, or remappable buttons on a controller.

If your game is designed for multiple controllers plugged into a USB hub, and your players demand support for USB mice, you're going to have a hard time reading multiple mice through popular PC operating systems.

As for the rest of your comments, those are all different departments, and I am sure that the voice actor is not being asked to fix bugs

The money paid to a temp to work on a bug is money that isn't paid to a voice actor.

Re:This is absolute nonesense (1)

sorak (246725) | more than 4 years ago | (#30297814)

These features and options have to be implemented. In an industry that is already extremely cutthroat with tight schedules and a revenue model that normally involves taking a loss on 9 product in the hope that the 10 will be a multi billion dollar hit ready for chrismas, that means that every single feature that gets implemented that was not absolutely necessary, is one less bug fixed, one less normal stage added, one less part voice acted.

And this is why disabled gamers shouldn't have a website telling which games are best for them?

Re:This is absolute nonesense (2, Funny)

ph0rk (118461) | more than 4 years ago | (#30296484)

Don't ever tell me what I can't do!

Re:This is absolute nonesense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30297464)

Ignorant.

Re:This is absolute nonesense (1)

sorak (246725) | more than 4 years ago | (#30297698)

Can you name one single instance in which anything has been mucked up, to accommodate the handicapped? Sure, some people had to put wheelchair ramps on their businesses, and the best parking spaces are handicapped, but, really, has anything in your life ever been inconvenienced in the slightest way, for the sake of accommodation?

Re:This is absolute nonesense (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30298600)

If you have no legs or can't walk, you're never going to learn karate

I beg to differ: Mr. No Legs [youtube.com]

Sorry you simply can play games that require a steady refined hand.

The whining is about games that require steadiness for no necessary reason.

more difficult to produce a game? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30296420)

I think a rating system is an interesting proposal from those affected by disabilities...

but I'm curious how this will affect game developers.

I realize that the market for disabled gamers is certainly a very small percentage so what will be the incentive to spend the time and resources to add the extra features required to get a decent rating?

Further, will a poor rating deter non-disabled people from buying and supporting the game?

I don't see a rating system being of much use to anyone.

What might be more effective is encouraging the licensing bodies of the console manufacturers to include disability-compensating features in the feature list on the packaging somewhere like they do with the "2 player" "online play" etc.

Re:more difficult to produce a game? (1)

agentultra (1090039) | more than 4 years ago | (#30296452)

I think a rating system is an interesting proposal from those affected by disabilities...

but I'm curious how this will affect game developers.

I realize that the market for disabled gamers is certainly a very small percentage so what will be the incentive to spend the time and resources to add the extra features required to get a decent rating?

Further, will a poor rating deter non-disabled people from buying and supporting the game?

I don't see a rating system being of much use to anyone.

What might be more effective is encouraging the licensing bodies of the console manufacturers to include disability-compensating features in the feature list on the packaging somewhere like they do with the "2 player" "online play" etc.

bah, forgot to log in. haven't had my coffee yet.

but seriously, don't need another rating system.

also -- lawsuit? talk about frivolous. what next? suing the Louvre because you can't see the paintings?

Learn from the example of the UK (2, Informative)

Squiff (1658137) | more than 4 years ago | (#30296596)

In the UK we have the Disability Discrimination Act (‘DDA’) ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disability_Discrimination_Act_1995 [wikipedia.org] ) This requires that service providers do not provide a disabled person with a lesser degree of service than a person who is not disabled and that they make reasonable adjustments to facilitate this. Any public website based in the UK would be bound by this legislation. Cases are heard in a criminal court with a jury. Statute law does not define what constitutes a disability or a reasonable adjustment, the courts decide this on a case by case basis. A common prejudice is that people think of disabilities, first as someone in a wheelchair and maybe secondly of a blind person. A disability may in fact be mental, ‘invisible’ (e.g. epilepsy) or in fact any chronic condition that disables someone. The comment “Someone with no legs shouldn't sue Ford because it is hard to drive.” is not relevant because Ford do provide cars that may be driven by someone with no legs- certainly an automatic with hand controls is available in the UK. The linked article specifically mentions ‘World of Warcraft’ which for the terms of the DDA is a web-based business operating in the UK. There is a very clear precedent here with Odeon Cinemas (a UK chain) not providing a website that was accessible with alternative browsers: before http://networks.silicon.com/webwatch/0,39024667,39124215,00.htm [silicon.com] and after http://www.odeon.co.uk/fanatic/accessibility/ [odeon.co.uk] The alternative of course would be to not do business in the UK

Re:Learn from the example of the UK (1)

srussia (884021) | more than 4 years ago | (#30296832)

In the UK we have the Disability Discrimination Act (‘DDA’) ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disability_Discrimination_Act_1995 [wikipedia.org] ) This requires that service providers do not provide a disabled person with a lesser degree of service than a person who is not disabled and that they make reasonable adjustments to facilitate this.

Are laws that use the weasel word "reasonable" reasonable?

Re:Learn from the example of the UK (1)

RadioElectric (1060098) | more than 4 years ago | (#30297030)

Yeah, that's why judgements are made in court on a case-by-case basis.
or...
gb2wikipedia

Auunngghh Murph! (1)

mafian911 (1270834) | more than 4 years ago | (#30297502)

That would explain that easily-fraggable player I met last night in Halo. xX_Hellen_Killer_Xx just kept spinning around looking skyward while filling the mic channel with mad mumbling noises.

Seems like a market to me... (1)

gedrin (1423917) | more than 4 years ago | (#30298398)

1. Handicapped people, much like everyone else, want to play games and are willing to pay money to do so.
2. People who make games want to sell games.
3. Handicapped people, much like everyone else, are reluctant to throw away $60 on a game they may not be able to play.

Seems like someone should have the job of creating a set of developer tools along the lines of "Unreal Engine - Color Blind" or "DirectAccessibility". Games with such features could then bear an industry logo, white D-pad on blue field or some such, to signify a certain accessibility standard.
Some sort of accessability labeling is an idea worth thinking about anyway, and I'd honestly expect Nintendo, with their "all ages" marketing, to lead the way. Being able to purchase a game with reasonable confidence that you'll be able to play it would make purchasing decisions easier, and sell more games to people for whom that is a concern.
On a final note, as a guy who gets around on crutches, I think it's a pretty lame move to sue a consumer goods producer because they don't cater to your own special snowflake problems. For my self, if I don't think a store is easy to get around in and shop at, I go to a different store. Game makers are likely loosing sales to people with various problems because those people have the expectation that they won't have an enjoyable experience for their $60. For such a natural market for their product, it seems like an issue that could be overcome, but suing based on "how dare you not make the game good for me with my individual needs" doesn't strike me as a very adult way of working in the world.

Re:Seems like a market to me... (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#30298788)

The only problem is that these kind of developments take time. Time to code, time to test.

Now, in the time that it takes me to code and test for a handicapped persion, could I implement another feature that will make my game more popular to the general populace?

If 1 out of every 10 people are blind, and 1 out of every 10 blind people want to play video games, thats 1 person for every 100 they are catering too. Now, say 9 out of 10 people aren't blind, and 5 out of 10 those want to play your game - what is more beneficial, catering to 1 of 10 of 10 or catering to 5 of 10 of 10. You are exposing your developments to a wider crowd thus increasing your chances to make more sales.

Re:Seems like a market to me... (1)

gedrin (1423917) | more than 4 years ago | (#30300310)

Yes, that is the problem.
A small portion of society is handicapped in a way that creates a hurdle to playing games. Only so much money will be spent to cater to a small segment of the market.
This doesn't seem that remarkable to me. In fact, it seems rather apropriate. I'm not arguing that baseline toolkits for accessability features are a magic wand that will fix everyone's problems without cost. I'm simply saying that if DirectX had tools, or some enterprising colorblind (or whatever) programmer built them, that could be used to more easily implement the desired play modes, it would lower the cost threshold for producing those features. Additionally, accessibility labeling would increase the marketability of those features.

I in no way expect game makers to spend more money than they'll make to producing accessable games. I just think there's money out there for it and the people that include those features will capture a disproportionate amount of that market compared to those who don't.

I'm tone deaf (1)

JobyOne (1578377) | more than 4 years ago | (#30300350)

I myself am seriously incapable of distinguishing between tones.

When I was a kid playing Myst I had to talk my mom into doing the tone matching puzzle for me, because I absolutely could not do it.

Did I sue them? No. I accepted the fact that there are some things I'm just not wired for, and I sucked it up and moved on with my life.

I'm all in favor of making things accessible, but there's a big difference between a traffic light and a video game. One being designed with poor accessibility will limit a few peoples' choices of entertainment, one will kill people.

For the record I'm all in favor of a rating system for various disabilities, but I don't think it should be mandatory, and I do think it should be an independent organization. Let's not make more hoops for developers to jump through, seeing that the ESRB hoop is already small and on fire.

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