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#a11yTO Gaming Conference

So I stumbled upon this conference happening in Toronto called #a11yTO. The main focus of #a11yTO is to bring awareness in the area of inclusivity and accessibility. As much as I wanted to attend all the days of the conference, I was really drawn to attend the one-day mini-conference for #a11yTO Gaming. The focus of this was to discuss how accessibility is addressed in the world of the console, mobile and tabletop gaming environments. Some of the speakers attending the conference are industry leaders who I became aware of on Twitter. As I try to learn more about Game UX design principles, I felt this was a great opportunity to learn more about the subject. Here are some notable speakers that I enjoyed listening to at #a11yTO Gaming. The whole day was hosted by my recent friend BLIND GAMER, Steve Saylor (a Kinda Funny Best Friend).

Ian Hamilton – Ian an accessibility specialist, helps game development studios avoid excluding gamers with disabilities. I have been following him online for a while as he points of the flaws of recent games. We have exchanged discussion on one of the biggest problems I have, which is subtitles in games. There doesn’t seem to be a standard style guide for video games, as it applies to under media such as film and television. We also talked about the difficulty level and absolute exclusion of gamers from “Soulsborne” titles (Dark Souls, Bloodborne, and recently Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice). I have been playing Sekiro recently, and I shared my experiences with the game. I may review my qualms with Sekiro in a separate post.

Cherry Thompson – I was excited to hear from Cherry as a proven game accessibility specialist. Two major PlayStation titles she worked on are Horizon Zero Dawn by Guerrilla Games, and Dreams by Media Molecule. I am currently in the Early Access trial for Dreams and I got to talk more with Cherry about how they mapped so many control schemes for various operations that Dreams covers. I hope to do a more extensive post on the UX design of Dreams because I find it an incredible accomplishment to map game development functions onto a Dualshock 4 controller.

Bryce Johnson – Bryce co-created the Microsoft Adaptive Controller for the Xbox gaming console. When I first saw the device, I thought of it as a large controller with an enormous D-Pad and two large buttons. It was after talking to Bryce and an actual demonstration of the device. It works as a hub for additional separate custom buttons. This opens up more inputs that accommodate particular control needs. While the buttons can range in various trigger forms, motion input, and sizing; there’s an additional cost to add these on.
-JD