Game Accessibility at GDC 2024

There are a number of accessibility related sessions taking place over the course of GDC this year, both at the main conference itself and at the summits. Here’s a handy list! All times are in PST.

UX Summit
Monday March 18, 3:00pm – 3:30pm, Room 3016 West Hall

Sweta Mohapatra (UX Designer, Riot Games)

Many games have added accessibility features after launch, but what happens if you try to add a feature that directly impacts gameplay to a live service game? This talk covers the story of how devs on the Legends of Runeterra team explored what it would take to add keyboard mapping to the game. From scoping the work it would take, to evaluating the design and gameplay impact, to creating a proof of concept, attendees learn about how the team tackled this challenge and what we learned about retrofitting accessibility along the way.

Independent Games Summit
Monday March 18, 3:50pm – 4:20pm, Room 2005 West Hall

Matt MacLean (CEO / Designer, Generic Lake Monster)

Drawing from four years of success and setbacks making Quarterstaff, an accessibility-focused game, this talk is about using accessibility as a baseline of success and a core design constraint, as well as best practices for making sure usability is an ongoing component of development that makes your game stand out, and not a costly last-minute addition.

UX Summit
Monday March 18, 4:40pm – 5:10pm, Room 3016 West Hall

Jazmin Cano (Accessibility Product Manager, Owlchemy Labs)
Peter Galbraith (Senior Accessibility Engineer, Owlchemy Labs)

In this session, Owlchemy Labs’ Accessibility Product Manager Jazmin Cano and Senior Accessibility Engineer Peter Galbraith describe the approach they took adding blind and low vision accessibility to Owlchemy Labs’ most recently released game, Cosmonious High. They share what they learned throughout this process, from early research and development to the feedback received after release. Audience members gain an understanding of what is required to create helpful accessibility features for complex and immersive virtual environments.

Main conference
Wednesday March 20, 3:30pm – 4:30pm, Room 2014 West Hall

Steven Weitz (Director of Professional Development, The AbleGamers Charity)

Attendees will learn how the spectrum of capabilities of players with disabilities leads to a wide variety of needs that require individualized settings in gameplay challenge. With this knowledge, attendees will be able to draw upon existing gameplay elements to create more granular accessibility in their existing or future games.

Main conference
Wednesday March 20, 5:00pm – 6:00pm, Room 215 South Hall

Jay Justice (Consultant, Independent)
Morgan Baker (Game Accessibility Lead , Electronic Arts)
Tara Voelker (Senior Xbox Game Studios Accessibility Lead, Xbox)

Join a panel of experts to learn how to increase accessible gaming experiences for players with cognitive disabilities. This panel will explore best practices and the many benefits of building cognitive accessibility into your games.

Main conference
Thursday March 21, 11:30pm – 12:30pm, Room 211 South Hall

Thomas Westin (Senior Lecturer, Stockholm University and IGDA GA-SIG)

Accessibility continues to make important gains across the video games industry–from AAA studios to indie developers. Yet each step forward brings with it new opportunities for further accommodations that will enhance experiences, generate appeal, and include a larger number of gamers. Whether you and your company are making your first accessibility efforts for your current game, or augmenting and refining existing procedures, our discussion will focus on inclusive design processes and how that can be enabled at workplaces with tools, workflows, roles, and collaborations.

Main conference
Thursday March 21, 3:00pm – 3:30pm, Room 3002 West Hall

Brian Schmidt (Founder, GameSoundCon)

This talk discusses the current factors affecting hearing health for the game industry, and discuss some things we may be able to do as game developers to help make listening safer for the players who enjoy our games. Topics include the current work at the WHO, how sound can affect hearing, potentially mitigation strategies and how safe listening may be a ‘close cousin’ to features such as loudness standards, accessibility and listening environment.

Main conference
Friday March 22, 1:30pm – 2:30pm, Room 301 South Hall

Monica Fan, Adam Clewes-Boyne, Nathalie Mathe, Sara M.E. Ventura, Aquamarine Shutter, Brandii Hooker

Learn more about what it means to be a neurodivergent person with intersections; Discover the unique challenges and strengths of being intersectional neurodivergent across various disciplines within the game industry; Understanding why we should stop labeling everyone with a single identity and how we can improve the experience of intersectional neurodivergent game developers




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