Making Video Games Accessible to All: Part Three – Charities and Resources

Updated: Feb 2



Hello again, everyone. In the first article of this miniseries, we investigated some of the hardware available to differently-abled gamers to make video games accessible. We also looked at the game-agnostic controller emulation software which allows players to use alternative control setups and non-natively supported controllers.

In the second article, I shared some of my family and I’s personal experiences regarding accessibility issues in gaming, in case these issues are not covered elsewhere.

In this, the third and final part of the miniseries we investigate the resources available to game developers to help them make their games accessible, and the organisations that help differently-abled gamers to keep on gaming. Let's dive in.

Game-Level Adaptations

Game level adaptations are adaptations which can be made on a game-by-game basis, and are generally made by the following groups;

1) The game’s developers who may cater for such alterations during development or post-launch via patches and updates.

2) The modding community who may create accessibility mods after the game has been released if the developer fails to do so, or if the modders feel they can do better.

3) The player’s themselves once they own the game.

The range and number of adaptations that could and should be made are staggering. I had already created what I thought was a fairly comprehensive list of suggestions ‘off the top of my head’ before researching this article. However, I thought wrong, and the suggestions I had considered barely scratch the surface. How do I know this?

Because when researching this I was pleasantly surprised to learn that several organisations around the world have been working to promote and support accessibility in gaming for some time. They have already created far more comprehensive advice and guidance materials than I could. What’s more, many are involved in one-to-one work with individuals and consultancy work with game developers, health care providers and the like. So, instead of writing out a long list of ideas here, I’ll leave it to the experts – links and details below.

Game Maker's Toolkit YouTube Channel

Mark Brown’s Game Maker’s Toolkit YouTube channel has a superb series titled ‘Designing for Disability’. In this, Brown explains video game accessibility features whilst showing examples of games that get it right, and the games that get it wrong - the latter serving as examples of what not to do. The description text of these videos contains links to other valuable resources - many of which are listed below.



Designing for Disability Part one


NB - the rest of the series can be seen by following this link:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLc38fcMFcV_vvWOhMDriBlVocTZ8mKQzR

Special Effect


SpecialEffect are a UK-based charity that puts fun and inclusion back into the lives of people with physical disabilities by helping them to play video games. We use technology that ranges from modified games controllers to eye-control, and we’re finding ways for people of all ages to play to the very best of their abilities.


There's no one-size-fits-all way of doing this, so normally (i.e. pre-lockdown) our occupational therapists will meet people face-to-face - either by visiting them or welcoming them to our Games Room in Oxfordshire. Our team will have talked to the person before the visit to build up a picture of their abilities and what they want to play, and during the visit they’ll work with the person to create a personalised gaming control setup using carefully-selected technology from the huge selection in our loan library. The loan is then backed up with lifelong follow-up support as the person’s needs and abilities change, and as potentially suitable new technology evolves.


Although these face-to-face visits aren’t possible at the moment, our virtual doors are still open to those who need us. Our team is carrying on its life-transforming work through online assessments, remote support and equipment provision. We’re continuing to welcome new referrals as well as supporting people we’ve previously helped, so please do get in touch via email or through our website if you think we can help. We don’t charge for any of our services. (Quote kindly provided by SpecialEffect)



Special Effect Website:

https://www.specialeffect.org.uk/

Game Access Website:

https://gameaccess.info/

SpecialEffects YouTube Channel:

https://www.youtube.com/user/GameOnForEVERYONE

Gamers Outreach


"Gamers Outreach is a 501(c)(3) charity organization that provides equipment, technology, and software to help kids cope with treatment inside hospitals. In short, we aim to provide video games to hospitalized children across the US. We do this by donating Gamers Outreach karts (GO Karts) to hospitals. Our GO karts can be easily disinfected and wheeled around everywhere from playrooms to individual hospital rooms and are equipped with a monitor, a gaming console such as an XBOX or PS4 pre-loaded with games, and adaptive and regular controllers.

We estimate that one kart can provide gaming to more than 2,000 hospitalized children a year, and are currently supporting an estimated 1.5 million children a year overall. Now more than ever, we're getting more GO Kart requests from hospitals due to increased isolation. Our goal is to continue to brighten a child's day by offering them the ability to build a mansion in Minecraft, race a parent or sibling in Forza, or even build and score goals in Rocket League." (Quote kindly provided by Gamers Outreach)



Gamers Outreach Website:

https://gamersoutreach.org/

AbleGamers


The AbleGamers Foundation, also known as AbleGamers Charity, is a 501(C)(3) nonprofit public charity that aims to improve the overall quality of life for those with disabilities through the power of video games.


Video games allow individuals with disabilities to experience situations that may be difficult or limited in the real world, provide social networking opportunities to maintain mental and emotional health, and participate in one of the world’s largest pastimes. (Text as per the AbleGamers website 'Our Services' page.)


AbleGamers Website:

https://ablegamers.org/

Accessible Games Website (Powered by AbleGamers):

https://accessible.games/

Accessible Player Experiences (APX)

https://accessible.games/accessible-player-experiences/

Accessibility Guidelines



An excellent online resource aimed at video game developers to assist them to make their games accessible.



Accessibility Guidelines Website: