Collage of 8 pictures with 9 gamers playing.

A more inclusive Xbox, thank you for the inspiration

It’s been a pretty great year. My family and I are fortunate, and professionally it has been one of the most rewarding times of my career. This year I designed how Microsoft assistive technologies would work on Xbox One. Being able to focus on how gaming can be more inclusive for people of all abilities has been a privilege. At Xbox we’re just getting started, our foundation is settling, and we have lots of opportunities to improve how people with disabilities play games.

I’ve always tried to promote accessibility in my work and I’ve had a few bright spots, like when Bill Gates was awarded the Louis Braille Gold Medal in recognition of Microsoft Canada’s contribution to developing the CNIB digital library system. I did the UI design for that site and it was an incredible experience.

Tim Berners-Lee said that universality is an essential aspect of the web; it was meant to be accessible from the beginning. Inclusivity in gaming is still a fairly new idea, although an idea which is long overdue. There are a number of organizations that endeavor to bring gaming to people with disabilities, organizations such as: AbleGamers, Special Effect and Warfighter Engaged. You can also dive into gaming accessibility through resources like the gaming accessibility guidelines, Includification.com, and videos like this one from PBS Game/Show.

Beyond Guidelines

There is much to be gleaned from guidelines but to get to deeper insights you must observe people, understand their motivations, and listen when they tell you how they feel. It is not always easy to have access to the people who can help. People posting videos about gaming is a phenomenon and gamers of all abilities are doing it. Watching videos has been wonderful. It has helped me immensely and I often re-watch many of them as they continue to inspire me. Thank you to everyone who has posted a video. Here are some of my favorites from my list:

VIDEO: Do you care about disabled gamers?

Latif (chickenMCB) is calling the industry out in this video. He’s right; we must do better.

VIDEO: Video Games by the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation

This is an older video from the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation but it goes into how gaming is socializing and everyone needs to belong.

VIDEO: Disabled gamers message to BioWare on Mass Effect 3

This is just one of Chuck’s (AskACapper) wonderful videos. Watching him play and hearing his insight has been very helpful.

VIDEO: WORLD FIRST Crota — Beaten by Cerebral Palsy Player — He uses his FEET to play

This is awesome. It’s just incredible. The reaction video is great to.

VIDEO: Burnout Paradise played with a quadstick (Tobias Kozlowski)

I was a backer of the Quadstick and after watching Tobias’s demonstration I wish I gave more. There is another great video by CraigWLawrie on twitch, he’s playing Torchlight 2.

VIDEO: How I play Xbox with my FEET! (ONLYUSEmeFEET)

Watch AJ (ONLYUSEmeFEET) dominate in a first person shooter (CoD BO) using a controller with his feet.

VIDEO: How blind people play video games. Episode 1: Mario Kart 64 (Licia Prehn)

This is one of Licia’s older videos, she is more famous for cooking and hockey, and what I appreciate most about it is how she opens up on what gaming has meant to her.

VIDEO: An Empirical Study of Issues and Barriers to Mainstream Video Game Accessibility (John Porter)

A great presentation. (I’d love to see it updated.) John (@the_3)has been a huge influence on how I approach gaming equity.

VIDEO: Video Games For The Blind! (The Blind Spot)

Realism doesn’t work well for people with Low vision. Sam also has a great interview with the Blind Gamer Chick.

VIDEO: AlterConf San Francisco 2015 — Disability in Games (Xandir O’Cando and Kevin Simpson)

A good presentation by Xandir O’Cando and Kevin Simpson that points out problematic or encouraging patterns, as well as ablist tropes in gaming. (BTW, Alterconf is amazing. I went to Portland. Look for one in your area.)

It maybe early to make a resolution but I’m excited to keep working on making gaming more inclusive. Thank you again to all these people for talking about gaming accessibility. If you want to talk about Xbox please reach out @BryceJ

A single golf clap? Or a long standing ovation?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.