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GDC16′s accessibility sessions

This year’s GDC Vault (video archive from the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco) is now up, meaning that recordings of several of the accessibility talks are now freely available online. Turnout was way up on previous years, averaging around 120 attendees per session, which is a significant increase in the number of developers interested in accessibility.

Overwatch – The Elusive Goal: Play by Sound

Scott Lawler & Tomas Neumann, Blizzard Entertainment

Early in production we were given a clear, but challenging goal by our game director, “Play by Sound”. Overwatch is a competitive Player vs Player shooter and split second reactions make the difference between life and death. Having 12 players in a match, all with unique weapons and abilities made this an extremely challenging bar to hit. To do so we relied on a number of systems that effected all aspects of the Music, SFX and Dialog in Overwatch.

Come see the Overwatch Sound Team discuss the choices made on an aesthetic and technical level to help achieve this goal and how we used Audio to help reinforce the game-design in Overwatch.


Beyond Ageism: Designing Meaningful Games for an Older Audience

Bob De Schutter, Miami University

Are you interested in developing games for a huge upcoming audience of retirees? This session discusses the findings from a decade of academic research on the topic and has some surprising findings. Most importantly, it concludes that older gamers are much less interested in game design that is focused on brain training and physical exercise than popular media would have you believe. It introduces a series of design guidelines that are derived from many interviews, surveys, gameplay experiments and design workshops with older adults.


Mobile Devices & Disabled Gamers

Ian Hamilton, IHDC

20% of gamers have some kind of disability, and many mobile gamers also encounter situational impairments, such as playing in direct sunlight, or holding onto a handrail on the underground. Small screens and touch interfaces bring some accessibility barriers and solutions that are specific to mobile devices.

This session will share insights on what accessibility and disability actually mean and why they are important. It will also share some easy mobile-specific considerations you can make in your own games, and the human and business impact that they can bring.


Includification: How to Make Your Game(s) More Inclusive to Millions

Mark Barlet, AbleGamers

Did you know that there are up to 1 billion people with disabilities worldwide? As the population of America ages, technology advances, and the entire world lives longer, more and more people with disabilities are going to be playing your games. Learn the top three challenges you can address today to make your game more inclusive, and available to a wider audience and market.

Mark Barlet, founder of the international charity for gamers with disabilities, AbleGamers, will walk you through the do’s and don’ts of designing games with inclusivity in mind. We’ll discuss easy ways you can improve your game after launch or early in the development cycle. Together, we can change the video game development world by including everyone. Listen to learn how to sell more games, but develop with accessibility because it’s the right thing to do.


Audio Driven Game Design

(Full video available with full vault subscription)

Per Anders Ostblad & Henrik Engstrom, University of Skovde

The vast majority of all digital games rely heavily on their graphics to convey information and bring enjoyment. For the visually impaired community there are very few games to play, and even fewer that sighted gamers also play. How can you create a mobile game that is equally enjoyable regardless of whether you look at the graphics or use audio only?

This talk will be about the benefits of audio-driven game design, tips on how you can include visually impaired players in your game and the importance of being able to share the gaming experience with others. We will share tips and tricks and discuss why bringing audio into the design process early can enrich the gaming experience without hindering the rest of the game development process.

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