Today (May 17th, 2018) is Global Accessibility Awareness Day. I thought it would be a great time to reflect on how far we’ve come as an industry and how far we still have to go.
When I started the Accessible Games blog back in 2010, my primary goal was to review board games and talk about their accessibility (or lack thereof). The idea was to spotlight those games which are easily adapted for people with disabilities (PWDs) and to mention which games should probably be avoided for people with certain disabilities.
As the years progressed, I started to grow frustrated with common accessibility issues. I gravitated more toward roleplaying games because they simply required less effort to adapt for my personal needs. They also offered me lots of hours of enjoyment without the need to adapt every new game that came my way. A few modifications to an RPG of choice was all I needed to get countless hours of gaming.
As I started designing my own RPGs, this website switched focus. I wasn’t reviewing board games much anymore, but I did continue to do reviews and developer spotlights for RPGs. I noticed there were a lot of inaccessible RPGs, particularly in regards to their PDFs, and I thought it was important to bring those concerns to the attention of the public as well.
I eventually decided to put my money where my mouth is (so to speak) and start providing some practical advice on how publishers can make their games more accessible. After all, it’s one thing to be a critic and another to be a teacher.
To date, my publisher advice articles on creating accessible PDFs and working with programs like Adobe InDesign have been some of the most-read and commented articles on this site. I’ve noticed a definite trend in small press publishers who are interested in making their games more accessible, and I’d like to think I had something to do with that.
For example, I interviewed Todd Crapper about his game High Plains Samurai when it was on Kickstarter. The first phase of that project has been released, and High Plains Samurai: Legends is one of the most accessible PDFs I’ve ever read. Todd has personally spoken with me to consult on the accessibility of his character sheet for ScreenPlay (the system on which HPS is based), and I was able to provide useful and candid feedback that helped him improve the product.\
It’s a good feeling knowing that I’ve had some impact on even a small segment of the community.
To that end, I have some plans to continue reaching out to developers to help educate them about game design. I’ve gained a lot of experience by publishing my own projects, and I intend to continue to pass on that experience to as many people who will listen. I don’t have anything to announce officially yet, but after I get some of my current loose ends wrapped up I’ll be able to focus more on my education and outreach goals.
I have been fortunate to see the industry grow a lot over the last few years, both in terms of accessibility and inclusivity. It makes me optimistic about where our hobby is heading.