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Accessibility highlights from Global Game Jam 2014

2014′s Global Game Jam event again saw the inclusion of an accessibility diversifier, resulting in a record breaking 169 games that took the needs of gamers with disabilities into account.

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)

Man wearing post-its on eyebrows and nose, playing Brow Brow Party Walrus Exciting
Classic DDR-style game, but instead of dancing on a mat, your eyebrows do the dancing
http://globalgamejam.org/2014/games/brow-brow-party-walrus-exciting-eyebrow-dancing-experience

Inextrickable

Córdoba, Argentina (requires webcam)

Man using a webcam to play the Pong stage of Inextrickable
Arkanoid & maze solving controlled by webcam head movement detection
http://globalgamejam.org/2014/games/inextrickable

Senseless Runner

Bristol, UK (requires XBox pad)

Dodging obstacles in Senseless Runner
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.
http://globalgamejam.org/2014/games/senseless-runner

Edelgase

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Colours backed up with symbols in Edelgase
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
http://globalgamejam.org/2014/games/edelgase

Killer space rocks

Twin cities, USA (requires OUYA)

Shooting asteroids in Killer Space Rocks
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
http://globalgamejam.org/2014/games/killer-space-rocks-co-op-multiplayer

Blind Bongo

Madrid, Spain


Monkey about to jump over an elephant in Blind Bongo
Blind-accessible endless runner, with timed audio cues for all obstacles
http://globalgamejam.org/2014/games/blind-bongo

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Comments 2

  1. Hi!!

    I’m one of the developers of Blind Bongo. I am very grateful that you’ve tried the game, and I’m glad you liked it. I’d like to say to you that we have published the game on Google Play Store. It would be an honor for us to have you as one of our player.

    Also, I’d like yo congratulate you on your blog. It’s very nice!!

    Bye!!

    Reply
    • @David Montesdeoca

      Great, it would be worth mentioning it on the audiogames forums and on the audyssey mailing list, you’ll reach lots of vision impaired gamers, and no doubt will get some useful feedback too.

      Reply

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