Illnesses and disabilities in video games

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Re: Illnesses and disabilities in video games

Post by Mootown » Mon Nov 12, 2012 8:21 pm

How on earth would you remap the Halo controls to allow a one handed person to be able to move, look, fire and jump all at the same time? Games designed around certain control methods are still going to not work right regardless of remapping buttons.

Arguably, games which use just 1 wii remote for controls are amongst the easiest to use - ie point and click games.

The fact is, games are made to be controlled a certain way - changing the controls won't re-design the gameplay.
If I broke my arm, I'd play games that work already with one arm anyway rather than trying to learn some convoluted control method to try and get through Halo. I'd be on virtua cop or an ipad game....

I agree games should have subtitles etc but this controls debate is getting ridiculous - is Guitar Hero discriminating because its using a guitar shaped controller? How about DJ Hero? Take away that control method and its a shell of a game.

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Re: Illnesses and disabilities in video games

Post by KM* » Tue Nov 13, 2012 12:11 am

OCD: Basically causes me to repeat certain functions in a game repeatedly until I get it 'right'. Like having to go around a set of trees only on their right side and things like that. Can make games a lot longer than they should be and quite a bit less enjoyable. But it has honed my skills over time. :/

I also get sick over old FPSes like Half-Life, Hexan, even up to HL2, but that's just how they programmed them (HL2 has a fix for it by changing the FoV every load.)

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Re: Illnesses and disabilities in video games

Post by DreamcastRIP » Tue Nov 13, 2012 12:39 am

Black Ridge wrote:There are very few games that offer alternative controls for the Wii.
Really? I just had a quick look on the back of the boxes of the ten Wii games nearest to me on my games shelf and nine of them have the option to be played using the Wii and/or GameCube gamepad controller.
Most games on the console are trying to create an experience WITH motion control.
Obviously. Your point is?
What you also have to remember is that games developers are trying to make money and appeal to the masses as opposed to a select few with disabilities.
Indeed. By making games accessible to the widest possible number of gamers they'd be able to make even more money. It makes business sense to make games more inclusive.
I'm sure that the majority of those unable to use a Wiimote would also have difficulty using a modern day pad with the number of buttons on controllers.
How can you be so sure? Sounds like you're making an assumption to me.
I think to call it discrimination is ridiculous and to single out one game is hardly fair.
Fair enough if that's your opinion. It doesn't make it so though.
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Re: Illnesses and disabilities in video games

Post by DreamcastRIP » Tue Nov 13, 2012 12:49 am

Mootown wrote:... is Guitar Hero discriminating because its using a guitar shaped controller? How about DJ Hero? Take away that control method and its a shell of a game.
A "shell of a game" to you, perhaps, but not to everyone else. I'd imagine some of those who are physically unable to use said guitar and turntable controllers would rather have the opportunity to play those sort of games using a joypad than not being able to play the games at all.

At least Guitar Hero and DJ Hero actually feature the option to be played using a gamepad, to the best of my knowledge.

See Misery's earlier explanation of how he's managed to find a workaround so as to enjoy playing TLoZ: Skyward Sword via a Wii emulator on his PC using a PS3 gamepad. You may consider what he's doing to ressemble a "shell of a game" but he evidently does not. Does that somehow make him 'wrong' by your way of thinking? Do you think he should not be playing the game the way he is because it doesn't conform to what you think regarding how the game should be played?
Roo wrote:Games should be as socially inclusive as possible. That's that, as far as I'm concerned.
Hear, hear. :D

If I were to perhaps change one small, but critical thing, to your statement to more accurately reflect my opinion it would be to reword it to say, "Games should be as socially inclusive as is reasonably possible.".
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Re: Illnesses and disabilities in video games

Post by Mootown » Tue Nov 13, 2012 2:25 am

Misery never said he actually played Skyward Sword, he said 'something like it'. I'm still interested to know if that is possible to do especially as it's a Wii remote plus game as well. Can anyone provide details of how Skyward Sword is remapped to a controller?

And I don't think DJ Hero is playable without the DJ Deck. And yes, that particular game would be rubbish without the controller. It was made to be played like that. It's the entire point of the game. I'm not being harsh but seriously. Some games are meant to be played in a certain way and take that away part of the game is lost.

I never said it was 'wrong' - don't put words into my own mouth. My opinion stands - some games are supposed to be played with certain controllers. Note I said 'some'.

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Re: Illnesses and disabilities in video games

Post by ianhamilton_ » Tue Nov 13, 2012 2:30 am

Mootown wrote:How on earth would you remap the Halo controls to allow a one handed person to be able to move, look, fire and jump all at the same time? Games designed around certain control methods are still going to not work right regardless of remapping buttons.
Like this:

Image

He moves by moving the entire pad while wedged against his arm, looks with his thumb, and fires and jumps with his fingers. Do to that he must be able to move the essential controls to one side of the pad. (he had a stroke as a teenager and had absolutely no intention of giving up his favourite games)

Here's another example, he can actually move his arm so he uses the left stick with his elbow:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WYXyvrQNjPM

So you can see really clearly that he can use it just fine, so long as there aren't any essential controls on the left shoulder or on the digital pad. Or alternatively, so long as he can move the essential controls FROM the left shoulder or on the digital pad over to the right hand side.

Even if you didn't want to go the whole arm/leg route there are many games that only require a single stick, such as racing games, which are easily controllable using just one hand on its own, again so long as you can choose which stick it is and move the essential controls to that side of the pad.
Mootown wrote:Arguably, games which use just 1 wii remote for controls are amongst the easiest to use - ie point and click games.
Not really no, only for people who can manage extremely precise analogue movements. Pads and keys and mice are much more accessible for some people, and easy to map to alternative controllers too. A mouse can be mapped to eye gaze or head pointers, and keys/digital pads/buttons can be mapped to large buttons, sip-puff tubes, infra red blink detectors and so on. The developer does not have to care about all that hardware, so long as the right controls are there to start with.
Mootown wrote:The fact is, games are made to be controlled a certain way - changing the controls won't re-design the gameplay.
No, that's not a fact. Most console gamers contain many presets, and quite a few contain full remapping - Borderlands 2, Aliens:Colonial marines, Need for Speed: Most Wanted, Counterstrike: Global operations to name just a few recent examples. If games were made only be to controlled a certain way then that would not be the case. And noone wants the gameplay to be redesigned - just unblocked.

For motion controls, here's a perfect example of someone doing it right:

http://uk.gamespot.com/child-of-eden/re ... w-6318967/
Mootown wrote:If I broke my arm, I'd play games that work already with one arm anyway rather than trying to learn some convoluted control method to try and get through Halo. I'd be on virtua cop or an ipad game....
Well, no, you probably wouldn't.

again - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WYXyvrQNjPM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSdbcDI5tPs
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYrKdIukMOk

Also this, very much worth a read, especially the bit where she asks more developers to include remapping:

http://www.fragdolls.com/index.php/blog ... bled_gamer
Mootown wrote:I agree games should have subtitles etc but this controls debate is getting ridiculous
Why is it ridiculous? Considering how trivial a task it is to include it if thought about early enough, does including a remap option harm other gamers in some way?

Here's an example of how difficult it is:

Image
Mootown wrote:is Guitar Hero discriminating because its using a guitar shaped controller? How about DJ Hero? Take away that control method and its a shell of a game.
DreamcastRIP wrote: A "shell of a game" to you, perhaps, but not to everyone else. I'd imagine some of those who are physically unable to use said guitar and turntable controllers would rather have the opportunity to play those sort of games using a joypad than not being able to play the games at all.
Here's a story for you, from a profoundly disabled gamer:
Stephen Spohn of Ablegamers wrote:
I Would

Man, what a short statement. Sure, “I would” doesn't sound like very much on paper, but it was one of the most powerful things I've ever said in any meeting the AbleGamers Foundation has had in all the years I've been with the organization.

The very first time our crew went to Boston for the PennyArcade Expo, we took a rainy morning side trip to astudio that supported us from the very beginning. Harmonix, creators of Rock Band, Dance Central and the original Guitar Hero, invited us in to talk about what we had accomplished so far, what we were doing in Boston, and what we hoped would be the future of accessible gaming.

It was to be a relatively short conversation with Alex Rigopulos. He is a busy guy. After all, it's not easy creating games that go on to become pop-culture phenomena.

His handler led us to his office tucked back deep inside the labyrinth of offices plastered with random pictures of music icons, gaming legends and artwork from around the world.

The atmosphere in that place is simple, straightforward and creative; exactly as you might think a game studio based around music might be. Once the introductions and formalities were out of the way, our meeting started off rather smoothly. Mark, the president of the foundation, opened up the conversation by telling Alex about our PAX experience and Ben, vice-president, discussed our appreciation for the support we have received.

But I was interested in the game. I'm a gamer at heart and when I go to these business meetings, I don't think of myself as the Editor-in-Chief of an international nonprofit. No, I'm a gamer and I'm representing other disabled gamers who can't be in those meetings. My priority was inquiring about adding accessibility options to the infamous titles.

The conversation was very lively with everyone talking back and forth in rapid succession. We talked about remap ability, alternative control schemes and colorblind options. Alex was excited. He really believes in accessibility and I truly believe he would make his games accessible to everyone if money and development allowed. Knowing this, I asked, “What about difficulty levels?” “Well, we made the game so that you could adapt the difficulty based on how good you are at using musical instruments,” answered Alex. “You can set Rock Band from maximum all the way down to three buttons.”

“Okay, but why did you stop at three?” I asked.

“Well, we pretty much thought no one would want to play Rock Band with only one button,” he responded off-thecuff.

“I would,” I said as matter of factly as humanly possible.

The room went silent. Alex looked at me with what I suspect is the same expression as someone who just saw a ghost tap-dancing on a grave. He was shocked at my answer, the honesty in the answer and at the same time caught up in the realization that someone actually might get fun out of simply pushing one button in rhythm with some music. The same joy someone gets out of pushing three buttons.

The conversation changed to how this might come to be. I’m still hopeful that one day we will see an AbleGamers mode that only requires one button. To this day that conversation is still talked about in our organization. We still refer to it on speaking occasions and the occasional interview. Mark and Alex still reference it from time to time, which means that it made a lasting impression on both of them. Such a small phrase had such a big impact. But the truth is it wasn't the words I said, how I said them or when I said them, it was the meaning behind the words that had such impact.

You see, we run up against questions like these now and again. Even during the editing process of the very white paper you are reading now the gaming editor asked, “well, how would you xxx?” And the answer is always a sort of complex simplicity.

Gamers with disabilities, such as myself, don't care about getting achievements, winning pro tournaments, being the best ever created or being an elitist. Well, okay, we do care about those things, but they are by far secondary to the main concern: Let Me Play.

We just want to be able to play the game at all. Right now, Rock Band stands as one of the games I would like to play the most out of any game created so far. It is also the one game I have never been able to and still can't play because of the limits built into the game.

When you are building your game, it's important that you realize disabled gamers have their own ways of playing and it often different than you intended. Assistive technology is great, but its limitation is that the more buttons you program, the more complicated they are to use. The FPS you built - I don't use strafe, don't walk backwards, don't use half of the extra buttons or features; I figure out exactly what's needed and use those. Which usually consists of walking forward with right-click, firing with the left and as few extra buttons as I can get away with. The MMO you built - I don’t use all the abilities on the hot bar, I use the ones that are the most important and easiest to reach. I still don't strafe nor walk backwards. And the list goes on.

If I could only impart one thing to you it is this: never say someone wouldn't want to play your game a certain way. If you think people can't play without moving in all directions or that someone wouldn't enjoy playing your game with only one button, chances are there are people who would enjoy your game just as much if you give them the chance to play their own way.
DreamcastRIP wrote:If I were to perhaps change one small, but critical thing, to your statement to more accurately reflect my opinion it would be to reword it to say, "Games should be as socially inclusive as is reasonably possible.".
yes
Last edited by ianhamilton_ on Tue Nov 13, 2012 3:07 am, edited 5 times in total.

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Re: Illnesses and disabilities in video games

Post by Mootown » Tue Nov 13, 2012 2:46 am

Mootown wrote:
The fact is, games are made to be controlled a certain way - changing the controls won't re-design the gameplay.

I stand by this comment. Although I wrote it wrongly - I meant changing the controller the game was designed to use, not remapping buttons. The DJ hero example (for example)

I'm not even being ignorant to the world and people with disabilities. (My best mates brother is handicapped for one) But at the risk of a spiralling conversation where accusations get thrown around, I bow out.

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Re: Illnesses and disabilities in video games

Post by ianhamilton_ » Tue Nov 13, 2012 3:00 am

Mootown wrote:Mootown wrote:
The fact is, games are made to be controlled a certain way - changing the controls won't re-design the gameplay.

I stand by this comment. Although I wrote it wrongly - I meant changing the controller the game was designed to use, not remapping buttons. The DJ hero example (for example)

I'm not even being ignorant to the world and people with disabilities. (My best mates brother is handicapped for one) But at the risk of a spiralling conversation where accusations get thrown around, I bow out.
Fair enough, although personally I'm throwing no accusations around and am just trying to educate people, I'm in no position to judge anyone, I work in accessible gaming now (aawreness raising and advising studios) but years ago I thought accessibility was a complete waste of time, I totally understand the misconceptions that people have.

If you're still reading I'd urge you think about this: if you had limited gaming options available to you and had the choice of playing DJ hero with buttons on a pad (or even a bespoke controller, like the big button next to this child's head http://ga.fdg2011.org/images/switch.png), or not play it at all.. which would you choose?
Last edited by ianhamilton_ on Tue Nov 13, 2012 3:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Illnesses and disabilities in video games

Post by nakamura » Tue Nov 13, 2012 3:02 am

Out of interest have you joined this forum simply to raise awareness of this issue?
http://judged-by-gabranth.blogspot.co.uk/
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Re: Illnesses and disabilities in video games

Post by ianhamilton_ » Tue Nov 13, 2012 3:04 am

nakamura wrote:Out of interest have you joined this forum simply to raise awareness of this issue?
Almost correct, yep came across the thread in a google search for recent discussion on game accessibility.

The awareness was actually raised by the original poster, so the reason I joined was to pass on some knowledge that might be useful, hopefully stuff that people will find interesting.

I have much more information that I could share off-board if anyone's interested - i_h@hotmail.com

Just so noone gets the wrong idea, I am in no way affiliated with the people I have been talking about, either the gamers in the videos, the gamers in the links, or the gamers in the quotes. I'm not part of any organisation either, just an individual. I gradually learned about game accessibility over years of working on games (including, eventually, lots of playtesting with disabled gamers) and now do what I can to pass that knowledge on to others.

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Re: Illnesses and disabilities in video games

Post by pratty » Tue Nov 13, 2012 3:45 am

ianhamilton_ wrote:Lots of interesting posts coming out now. I'll reiterate as there are quite a few similar things being said -
pratty wrote:In my view not all games need to be accessible to everyone.
Quite right, it is not possible for any one individual game to be accessible to absolutely everyone . This is because for a game to be called a game it must have some degree of challenge, and a challenge will also be a barrier to some people.

The key is -unnecessary- barriers. A great deal of barriers are left in games simply because developers don't yet know any better. The perfect way to remove unnecessary barriers is to allow choice. A little reinforcement in how information is conveyed, and a little flexibility in how people choose to play the game. Colour blind modes, subtitles/captions, remappable controls, field of view - all of those things come under those two basic principles.

pratty wrote:If we were to conclude that the developer is obligated to ensure that as many people as possible can play their game then developers would have a very tough task ahead to continue to create games of current complexity for all levels of physical ability.
Not really, games have had difficulty settings for almost as long as games have existed, and it's not very different to that. Bayonetta is a great example of a game that is just a fun for people with very little motor ability as hardened hardcore gamers, just through some simple options. The key thing that they realised is that their goal was to make something that was an enjoyable test of pushing your motor skills to the limit, and that pushing your motor skills to the limit means very different things to different people.
pratty wrote:Surely it's more sensible for the industry as a whole to accommodate gamers of different abilities through a range of different games and control methods, rather than each individual game..
Question for you then: if you were to badly break your arm and end up in plaster for 6 months, what would you rather play. Halo 4, or a game specifically developed by a small niche company specifically for one handed gamers? All it would haven taken would have been a simple remapping option and Halo 4 would have be playable by you with your single hand.. as Borderlands 2, Aliens CM, Need for Speed:MW and so on are.

(assuming you like Halo 4 is a bit of a reach obviously, if not substitute for non-remappable game of your choice)
pratty wrote:However it does seem that the industry does what it can where possible.
Sadly that's not the case at all, not by a very very long shot. Game developers often have either not realised that there's a problem, have realised and have had the odd thought about it, but either simply don't know where to start, or are paralysed by the common misconceptions about high cost, high complexity, tiny numbers of people who benefit, that they don't want to play games anyway, and that it dilutes the game for everyone else (none of these are remotely true by the way).

It's easy enough to compare with other industries to see where gaming is currently at. It's at a stage where general acceptance is starting to come about, but where the main thing needed is advocacy and awareness raising. Once the industry in general is aware of the problem and how easy some of the barriers are to avoid that's when you'll see proper best practice being adopted.
I'm a bit confused here, you agree with me that not all games need to be accessable to others. But take issue with me when I said the industry as a whole can cater to people of disabilities, rather than each individual game.

Not sure why you use Halo as an example when I'm talking about Skyward Sword, it would be easy for the Halo devs to add a button config option to Halo, much more difficult for Nintendo to include standard controls for Skyward Sword, nevermind the option to map the controls to just one side of the controller.

To answer your question though if I could play Halo 4 with one hand I'd rather play that, but If I can't I'll play something else. If I break my arm then I accept that I'll likely have to make certain compromises in the games I'd be able to play, or at least how I'll be able to them.

I admit I overlooked control mapping options, so yes developers are not doing all they could reasonably do. I do think it's a reasonable expectation that most games could offer the option to re-jig the buttons. But in the case of Skyward Sword or a game like it I don't think it's reasonable to expect the developer to water down their vision of a motion controlled game in order to include 'standard' control options.

I hope I'm not sounding cold or uncaring to people of physical disabilities. I'm just saying a game like Skyward Sowrd, which is designed for people of a certain physical ability, shouldn't have to accomodate less able gamers.

I'm with you on unnecessary barriers. I would say a dev probably should have the right to make a game as they please, but if they leave out some thing as simple control re-mapping or subtitles then they are only needlessly limiting who might play their game. However the motion controls of SKyway Sword are a necessary barrier in my opinion. People might argue that playing a game that way isn't necessary, but where do we draw the line on what is? It isn't necessary that a FPS require dual sticks, they'd be a lot more accesible and easier to control if they were on rails for a start. But people want the freedom to explore so they're mostly not on rails, same with SKyward Sword, people want the experience of weidling a sword so the motion controls become 'necessary' to do that.
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Re: Illnesses and disabilities in video games

Post by DreamcastRIP » Tue Nov 13, 2012 4:09 am

Mootown wrote:Misery never said he actually played Skyward Sword, he said 'something like it'. I'm still interested to know if that is possible to do especially as it's a Wii remote plus game as well. Can anyone provide details of how Skyward Sword is remapped to a controller?
My error, he did indeed state that.
And I don't think DJ Hero is playable without the DJ Deck.
After having just looked into the matter, you're quite correct.
And yes, that particular game would be rubbish without the controller.
Again, in your opinion it would be. It doesn't make it so.
It was made to be played like that. It's the entire point of the game. I'm not being harsh but seriously. Some games are meant to be played in a certain way and take that away part of the game is lost.
I don't doubt that. But the point is that some gamers with physical disability may still derive pleasure from playing such games using a joypad with, perhaps, relatively simplified controls. Just because you think a game is best played a certain way then it doesn't mean those with physical disability must be excluded by not providing an alternative control scheme. Maybe playing DJ Hero without the turntable controller wouldn't be as much fun but, the point is, it could still be fun. Being able to play the game using a joypad with an adapted control scheme would, I'm guessing, be preferable to not being permitted to play the game at all.
I never said it was 'wrong' - don't put words into my own mouth. My opinion stands - some games are supposed to be played with certain controllers. Note I said 'some'.
"Supposed to be", yes. But, as seems quite clear from the experience recounted by ianhamilton_ of that guy talking with Alex Rigopulos, some such games can be (and have been) adapted for greater accessibility.
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Re: Illnesses and disabilities in video games

Post by Misery » Tue Nov 13, 2012 4:16 am

Mootown wrote:Misery never said he actually played Skyward Sword, he said 'something like it'. I'm still interested to know if that is possible to do especially as it's a Wii remote plus game as well. Can anyone provide details of how Skyward Sword is remapped to a controller?

And I don't think DJ Hero is playable without the DJ Deck. And yes, that particular game would be rubbish without the controller. It was made to be played like that. It's the entire point of the game. I'm not being harsh but seriously. Some games are meant to be played in a certain way and take that away part of the game is lost.

I never said it was 'wrong' - don't put words into my own mouth. My opinion stands - some games are supposed to be played with certain controllers. Note I said 'some'.

Yes, I can provide some explanation of how I can map that sort of control.

Though, keep in mind when reading it that it's *my* own created setup, and anything of that nature made by me is likely going to appear fairly screwy to anyone else. For example, when playing Minecraft or anything else that uses a first person view, I have BOTH analog sticks be mouse control; but one of them has a slower max speed than the other, to make precision aiming easier when necessary (well, easier to me anyway). Generally this is the left stick. I can, in fact, use the left stick and d-pad at the same time with the same hand, as I tend to be more coordinated than most.

Skyward Sword is actually fairly simple: it'd basically be a matter of using one of the analogs to mimic the various possible positions that the Wiimote can be in. For example, pushing the stick to the right mimics taking the Wiimote from a neutral position, and swinging it to the right (and holding it there if you hold the stick). The exact precision of this can be fiddled with via the emulator and the side programs that I use to control it. Generally, this is the right stick; I'd be using the left one for movement, probably (though I could also use the d-pad to control the basic analog if I wanted to, which I sometimes do, thus freeing up the left stick for other uses as well). The more common commands used in combat and such (like using items or whatever) would be mapped to the shoulder buttons. And then the face buttons and dpad could be whatever's left. There arent all that many buttons on the wiimote+nunchuck, so fitting everything onto one controller when working with the emulator is generally easier than setting up most PC titles for this sort of control.

This would be ANNOYING to set up, but it wouldnt actually take too long, as I've now done this sort of thing more times than I can count, and with games that have a MUCH more complicated control setup than Skyward has. 30 minutes at most, if that.

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Re: Illnesses and disabilities in video games

Post by Mootown » Tue Nov 13, 2012 4:25 am

Misery wrote:
Mootown wrote:Misery never said he actually played Skyward Sword, he said 'something like it'. I'm still interested to know if that is possible to do especially as it's a Wii remote plus game as well. Can anyone provide details of how Skyward Sword is remapped to a controller?

And I don't think DJ Hero is playable without the DJ Deck. And yes, that particular game would be rubbish without the controller. It was made to be played like that. It's the entire point of the game. I'm not being harsh but seriously. Some games are meant to be played in a certain way and take that away part of the game is lost.

I never said it was 'wrong' - don't put words into my own mouth. My opinion stands - some games are supposed to be played with certain controllers. Note I said 'some'.

Yes, I can provide some explanation of how I can map that sort of control.

Though, keep in mind when reading it that it's *my* own created setup, and anything of that nature made by me is likely going to appear fairly screwy to anyone else. For example, when playing Minecraft or anything else that uses a first person view, I have BOTH analog sticks be mouse control; but one of them has a slower max speed than the other, to make precision aiming easier when necessary (well, easier to me anyway). Generally this is the left stick. I can, in fact, use the left stick and d-pad at the same time with the same hand, as I tend to be more coordinated than most.

Skyward Sword is actually fairly simple: it'd basically be a matter of using one of the analogs to mimic the various possible positions that the Wiimote can be in. For example, pushing the stick to the right mimics taking the Wiimote from a neutral position, and swinging it to the right (and holding it there if you hold the stick). The exact precision of this can be fiddled with via the emulator and the side programs that I use to control it. Generally, this is the right stick; I'd be using the left one for movement, probably (though I could also use the d-pad to control the basic analog if I wanted to, which I sometimes do, thus freeing up the left stick for other uses as well). The more common commands used in combat and such (like using items or whatever) would be mapped to the shoulder buttons. And then the face buttons and dpad could be whatever's left. There arent all that many buttons on the wiimote+nunchuck, so fitting everything onto one controller when working with the emulator is generally easier than setting up most PC titles for this sort of control.

This would be ANNOYING to set up, but it wouldnt actually take too long, as I've now done this sort of thing more times than I can count, and with games that have a MUCH more complicated control setup than Skyward has. 30 minutes at most, if that.
Emulators are pretty clever if you have the time, thanks for that :)

ianhamilton_
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Location: London

Re: Illnesses and disabilities in video games

Post by ianhamilton_ » Tue Nov 13, 2012 11:28 am

pratty wrote:I'm a bit confused here, you agree with me that not all games need to be accessable to others. But take issue with me when I said the industry as a whole can cater to people of disabilities, rather than each individual game.
Ahh ok just to be 100% clear then, what I said was that any one game can't be accessible to everyone. That's different to saying that not all games need to be accessible to others.

Or put another way, lets say (using some completely made up figures) that most games in the industry are accessible to 70% of people.

You could keep that 70% as it is, and then make a few bespoke games for each separate 5% niche groups of people with specific impairments. They're then technically 'catered for', but are only only able to play those few bespoke games, most of gaming is blocked off to them, even though they may face only very simple barriers that a few easy tweaks would resolve. When the latest blockbuster comes out that all their friends are excited about playing together on.. tough luck, not allowed to join in.

Instead, it would actually be pretty easy and cheap to improve most games from 70% to 90%. You could get it to 95% with a great deal more cost (often not worth cost/benefit), but not to 100%. So there'll still always be some people not catered for, therefore still a market for games designed for specific impairments. But the majority of games in the industry are now opened up to that extra 20%, meaning lots more sales for those big high profile games, and that 20% now able to enjoy just the same things as everyone else instead of being restricted to their own niche titles.

That's not to say that games designed for those niches are a bad thing. If designed well they can be just as enjoyable for all gamers, for example NightJar on the iphone, a sci fi survival horror game with no visuals. Picture walking around the ship in the first Alien movie, towards the end when everyone is dead and it's just you and the alien... but with the lights turned out. Pretty genius idea for a game, has received awards, BAFTA nominations, very popular with all games not just the blind gamers it was originally conceived for etc.
pratty wrote:I'm with you on unnecessary barriers. I would say a dev probably should have the right to make a game as they please, but if they leave out some thing as simple control re-mapping or subtitles then they are only needlessly limiting who might play their game.
Precisely :)
pratty wrote:However the motion controls of SKyway Sword are a necessary barrier in my opinion. People might argue that playing a game that way isn't necessary, but where do we draw the line on what is? It isn't necessary that a FPS require dual sticks, they'd be a lot more accesible and easier to control if they were on rails for a start. But people want the freedom to explore so they're mostly not on rails, same with SKyward Sword, people want the experience of weidling a sword so the motion controls become 'necessary' to do that.
If you're close to the game it's easy to think that what's important is the integrity of the vision, that everyone must experience the game in exactly the way the designer intended. The thing is though, that isn't actually possible, -everyone- has different abilities, perceptions, frames of reference etc, everyone experiences the game in a slightly different way, even if it is a completely linear game. No-one ever experiences it in exactly the way the designer intended (not even the designer, he/she is too busy picking holes in all the things that got left out during crunch :))

So the thing to do is just take a step back, abstract it out a little. Work out what it really is that's important about the game, the thing that drives people to actually go into the shops and hand over their hard earned cash in exchange for. Are they buying it because it's a kinect game? Are they buying it because of the story? The RPG aspects? And so on. Obviously different people buy for different reasons, so I'll give you a couple of examples.

(just displaying as a quote to separate it out a bit)
Bayonetta

You might think that it's about lightning reactions and complex combos. However the developers figured out that the core of the game was an enjoyably tough test of pushing your motor skills to the limit. They realised that people's motor skill limits are wildly different and didn't want to unnecessarily exculde people though the level of motor requirements being inappropriate for them, so introduced a very wide range of difficulties - from hardcore all the way down to pressing a single button.

LA Noire

You might think that it's about immersive cinematic experiences. However the developers figured out that the core of the game was testing people's visual and cognitive skills and didn't want to exclude people through not being able to succeed at the motor skill intensive driving sections. So if you fail a driving game three times in a row, it gives you the option to skip it and get back to the core mechanic.
So although those two examples aren't about motion control, I hope it gives you the general idea about abstraction, and also shows that it's just about giving people options, not about diluting the game for everyone else by forcing a different mechanic like on-rails (although having said that, an FPS with an on-rails option is a pretty interesting concept, it would be the equivalent of Dirt 3's option of automatic acceleration and braking).

I can't comment accurately on Skyward Sword as I haven't played it, but it may well be the case that it is at it's heart a pure motion game, with the ability to use a wii-mote being an absolutely necessary barrier, being the core of the fun, that would destroy the game if removed.

It may though be the case that it's just a fun addition that some people will greatly enjoy, but at the same time won't stop the game being enjoyable if some people who can't operate motion controls were permitted the option (and that's the key thing, option) to play with a pad instead - as with the Kinect/pad option on Child of Eden.

Again this might be total garbage as I haven't played the game so don't know to what extent the motion controls are the core of the game, but picture existing fanatic Zelda fans who have played every single game to death many times.

Now the new one comes out - it now has motion controls that prevent them from being able to play.

How would that make them feel? Like they should just shrug their shoulders and not care either way whether they can play the latest Zelda game after all? Would they have got any enjoyment from the game at all had there been an option for standard controls as well as motion?

Again hope somewhere amongst that is some good food for thought!

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