Providing Accessible Experiences for Serious Game Players

Providing Accessible Experiences for Serious Game Players

Jenn McNamara, Vice President Serious Games, Breakaway GamesGAMES / INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGN

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Disability advocacy and legislation have spawned inclusion efforts across digital media producing accommodation technology advancements. It is time for the serious games community to take accessibility seriously. For decades, learning and assessment games avoided accessibility challenges by providing alternate, non-game experiences to achieve equivalent content coverage. Today, serious games provide basic accommodations: to help the color-blind we use high discrimination colors and don’t convey information solely by color, for hearing difficulties we incorporate subtitles, for vision and cognitive needs we select appropriate font styles, colors, and sizes. But we still largely fail to consider gameplay from an accessible perspective.

Our community should afford accessible player experiences to as wide an audience as possible. While an agreeable goal, action remains difficult with little to no prescriptive design guidance. Our design principals draw from entertainment game, human-centered, and instructional design practices. Paradigms for inclusive design in these communities fall short of meeting the serious game community’s unique needs with guidelines too general to be actionable. In this session, we draw upon our experience creating accessible games to discuss how to talk about accessibility, assess needs and scope work, meet basic accessibility requirements, and move to including accessible play goals in game design.

Attendee Benefits

After participating in this session, attendees will:
- Understand a wide range of accessibility needs, accommodations, and their design implications
- Have considered guidelines and design patterns from entertainment, human-centered, and instructional design in light of applicability to games
- Understand unique challenges of providing accessibility accommodations in interactive serious games
- Have considered how to include accessibility as a component of game design
- Leave with lessons learned from our experience creating serious games that provide accommodations for accessibility

Tue 12:00 am - 12:00 am