I am attempting to start a new initiative within the new Game Design SIG and the Game Accessibility SIG. This initiative will focus on using game design to remove accessibility barriers for all types of players, no matter their age, experience or ability. Without accessibility barriers, players will have more fun, less frustration and more games completed because they didn’t get permanently stuck.
The proposal for the initiative is currently titled “Accessible Game Design”, however I am looking for a new name because people may confuse this with focusing on players with disabilities, which is not the case. It’s to help anyone who may be stuck in a game as you will see when you read the proposal. Here are some other names under consideration. Please read the proposal and offer other names you have.
- Inclusive Game Design
- Assistive Game Design
- Barrier-Free Game Design
Barrier-Free Game Design Initiative
- Barrier-Free Game Design – a game design philosophy, which removes barriers that may frustrate players and prevent them from progressing through the game.
- Barrier-Free – free from obstacles that prevent access.
- Accessible – easy to approach, reach, enter, speak with, use, obtain or achieve.
Game designers who want to make their games as accessible as possible to reduce frustration in players and potentially increase sales because more people can play.
The true beneficiaries of this initiative will be players that have difficulty with anything that stems from game design because they are stuck due to an inability to approach, reach, enter, speak with, use, obtain or achieve within a game.
Research past, present and future implementations of the following:
- Players modify game variables to tweak the difficulty, essentially, becoming the game designer. Also includes customizable controls.
Contextual Gameplay Assistance
- Players have access to gameplay mechanics that aid them in overcoming obstacles that they can’t overcome otherwise. Examples are using a magic power on a puzzle to solve it automatically. Or the Auto Hack Tool from BioShock to automatically solve hacking safe deposit boxes. These are in game, contextual gameplay mechanics that assist the player in progressing forward when stuck.
- The game uses player statistics to modify game variables that make sure difficulty of the game is never too easy or too hard for the player. Ideally, in perfect balance, even as player become more skilled at playing the game.
Subliminal Hint System
- The game uses player statistics to determine when players are stuck on puzzles and offer what are called “subliminal hints” in an effort to help players create intuitive leaps of logic (logical insights) and solve the puzzle on their own.
Content Navigation System
- Players use a VCR or Chapter based system that allows them to navigate through the entire game non-linearly, skipping to the very end if they desire or rewinding to 5 minutes previous.
- Which types of players will use the proposed features?
- How do you minimize option overload?
- Do not implement in-game costs, punishing players for using the system.
- Less rewards for lower difficulty.
- If players set the difficulty extremely low just to get past a boss fight, clearly they are extremely frustrated and essentially saying, “fuck this!”
- Allow teaks in the middle of game sessions via the in-game menu.
- How do you prevent players from “gaming” the dynamic difficulty system?
- Make Dynamic Difficulty an option. Provide it along with typical difficulty settings.
- Michael Lubker
- Reid Kimball
© 2009, Reid Bryant Kimball. All rights reserved.