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Making games more accessible to people with disabilities is an idea that is gaining in popularity, both among gamers and developers. And much of the credit for that must go to the hard work of the folks at AbleGamers, which is a charity dedicated to ensuring that everyone can play. And to implement that change, AbleGamers takes responsibility for educating developers with your Accessible Player Experiences (APX) course.
I spoke with AbleGamers VP Chris Power and COO Steven Spohn about APX for our How Games Make Money podcast. The couple argue that developers are leaving billions of dollars in revenue on the table by excluding players with disabilities. And the idea is that by appealing to the wallets of publishers and developers while providing the knowledge necessary to overcome design hurdles, AbleGamers can create a more inclusive medium.
APX is a certification program that developers can use to learn best practices and common mistakes to avoid. This is something that AbleGamers put together with Power, who designed a class and flashcard deck to break down common accessibility issues into easy-to-understand scenarios. And this is something developers are more open to than ever.
“I think on the developer side we are seeing a lot of change in the last few years,” Power said. “If you had asked me this question five years ago, it would have been, ‘Yes, I have to go convince some people to do this.’ Now we are discovering that many developers know about accessibility and want to do it. But the question is: How do I do it? “
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Spohn from AbleGamers illustrated how often developers overlook accessibility options.
“A few years ago, we were on a panel that we had done, and there were some Blizzard developers talking to us,” Spohn said. “And I say, ‘Great, so one of the things that confuses me is why do you have the minimap where it’s only green and red? Why don’t you have options to make it different colors? And he stops and says, ‘Ha, you think I would have figured that out because I’m color blind and I can’t really see red.’ And my head fell on him. “
Spohn then explained to the developers that if a colorblind developer was overlooking the colorblind options, then just imagine who else is forgetting the game. And that exclusion is AbleGamers’ number one concern. The organization wants to draw attention to the dangers of social isolation, something that games, when accessible, are particularly wonderful to counter.
“And when you look at our data and when we talk to our players, it is not competition, it is not achievement, and it is not exploration that they are concerned about,” Power said. “It’s not all of these things that we talk about in gaming communities. It is the connection with the people. And 9 times out of 10, that’s what our players look for in games. “
And while that social connection is powerful in a connected multiplayer experience, Power and Spohn were clear that exchanging stories about single-player games is just as important.
That’s where AbleGamers hopes APX can ensure a brighter future for inclusion.
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