Just in case you’re not familiar, Global Game Jam is a game hack event, with teams around the world forming and building games to a specific theme over a single weekend. In addition to the main theme, each year there are a number of diversifiers, optional extra considerations for experienced developers to also take on over the weekend.
This year saw a meteroric rise in the number of games produced, in part due to the 2014 theme, which was about how different people experience things from different perspectives. This meant a large number of games produced that were designed for people with different impairments to play together – most commonly someone with no vision and someone with no hearing collaborating to make use of each other’s senses.
There were many other approaches taken too. Interestingly, the split was very different to last year, where the bulk of games were either blind-accessible audio games or one-button games. This year, again blind-accessible audio games were popular, but after that came colour-blind friendliness. This is a reflection of what has been going on in the wider industry, with huge uptake in mobile game development, and several very high profile and widely covered examples from AAA console games, such as Sim City, Borderlands 2, and Battlefield 4.
So of the 169 games produced under the accessibility diversifier, here are a few of my personal favourites:
Brow Brow Party Walrus Exciting
Melbourne, Australia (requires webcam)
Classic DDR-style game, but instead of dancing on a mat, your eyebrows do the dancing
Córdoba, Argentina (requires webcam)
Arkanoid & maze solving controlled by webcam head movement detection
Bristol, UK (requires XBox pad)
3D endless runner game about disability rather than for disabled gamers, starts off accessible through touch, visuals and sound, and deprives players of senses as the game progresses.
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Rotational match-3 game, matching 4 triggers multipliers that are played out under simulation of various types of colourblindness, with colours distinguished using the ColorADD color identification symbol set
Killer space rocks
Twin cities, USA (requires OUYA)
Two player co-op asteroids, similar mechanic to Mario Galaxy – second player is responsible for shooting and special abilities, with no possibility of dying due to incorrect movements, allowing two people of very different levels of motor ability to play effectively together
Blind-accessible endless runner, with timed audio cues for all obstacles