Transcript: What makes an accessible game?

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12 February 2012

Roberta:  The AbleGamers Foundation has named the most accessible mainstream game for 2011, so the game most useable for people with a disability. Clarizza Fernandez from the Digital Media and Technology team at Media Access Australia is here to fill us in on the details. Welcome Clarizza.

Clarizza:  Thanks.

Roberta:  So which game has won Most Accessible Award?

Clarizza:  The game that won The Most Accessible Mainstream Game Award was the Star Wars The Old Republic game. It’s a PC game based on Star Wars, the famous movies, it’s been named by the AbleGamers Foundation which is a non-profit charity based in the US and runs a website called AbleGamers which is a community based website that provides information and accessibility reviews to people with a disability who like to play computer games.

Roberta:  So what exactly is an accessible game Clarizza?

Clarizza:  An Accessible Game is when a game has certain functions and features that help people with different disabilities better interact with it. Sometimes there are barriers in mainstream games that make them difficult, if not impossible for people with a disability to play. For example, if there’s no captions or the colour contrast and quick response times make things hard for people to play the game as you normally would, so there just some of the few barriers encountered.

So if the game for example relies on colour contrast to distinguish how, or to distinguish between different players, it makes it hard for somebody who has colour blindness to play the game.

Roberta:  Hmm. Can you tell us a bit about the game and how it’s been made accessible?

Clarizza:  Well the game was developed by a company called BioWare and as I mentioned it’s based on the Star Wars films. Basically you play a character from the Star Wars movies and there are a number of questions that you answer as you progress in the game. The questions and answers also drive the plot of the game. It’s actually a, what you call a massively multiplayer, online role-playing game, which means you can play with and against many people online and the world created in the game continues to evolve even when you’re not playing.

So the game was awarded Accessible Mainstream Game 2011 based on accessible merits such as full subtitles, multiple action bars, area looting, auto looting and built-in mouse sensitivity. Other accessible merits include the ability to adjust colours for colour and options to use either onscreen keyboard or a mouse instead of using the usual controller. And it’s also interesting that the creators of the game repurposed common keyboard shortcuts that you use in assistive technology for the keyboard navigation option.

However, one thing that AbleGame has highlighted is the inclusion of the companion in the game, so the companions are non-player computer characters that accompany the player throughout the game and provide support to players who need it, so they don’t have to request the help from other people.

Roberta:  That was going to be my next question, isn’t that interesting, this Star Wars game based on the Star Wars has been named The Most Accessible Mainstream Game. Are there any others that you can tell us that people could play?

Clarizza:  Yep, if you go the AbleGamers website, there’ll be links to other games, but for example a game called The Dragon Age Origins was named the 2009 Mainstream Game of the Year and that one scored a 9.8 rating out of 10 for accessibility.

Another one called The Rock Band which is accessible to blind people, and if you want more information about more accessible games you can always check the Media Access website and look under the Accessible Gaming section of our website to links to other websites.

Roberta:  Hmm hmm, oh that sounds really good. So can you just give our listeners your website?

Clarizza:  Yes it’s

Roberta:  And of course if you need any more information about these sorts of things you can call Media Access Australia on 02 9212 6242. Well that certainly is exciting news Clarizza and thank you for joining us to tell us about it.

Clarizza:  Thank you.

Roberta:  I’ve been speaking with Clarizza Fernandez from Digital Media and Technology Team at Media Access Australia and Media Access Australia are supporters of this program.                          


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