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Grant Hardy previews Inclusive Gaming

Two men, seated at a desk, look at a computer screen.

By Grant Hardy

It’s amazing to see how accessible technology has flourished throughout my lifetime. I love telling stories about useful apps and services and the people who benefit from them in all walks of life.

But sometimes it’s important to just have fun. And the gaming world has some catching up to do—both technology-wise and culturally—to be more accessible and inclusive. Luckily, there are some movers and shakers in the industry working to make a change.

Our latest feature on AMI This Week takes a look at all things inclusive gaming. We start by chatting with Lucas Gates from Neurovaliant, an organization aiming to remove the stigma about people who are neurodiverse participating in the gaming and Esports community. Whether it’s partnering with other gaming organizations to provide sensory kits for people on the Autism Spectrum, or trying to make gaming communities and social networks more inclusive and free of abusive and ableist language, the organization recognizes that gaming can be a great escape for all. But the anonymity of these platforms, making players less shy about directing abusive comments at others, means it’s necessary to work extra hard so players with all abilities feel welcome online.

We also looked at some of the latest research and innovation in accessible gaming. After an interaction with a user who said he couldn’t play a racing game due to his vision loss, Charles McGregor, developer of the HyperDot, worked to make his game more accessible. This included adding the ability to skip troublesome levels as well as features allowing players to use eye tracking, mice and keyboards, and a variety of accessible controllers to control the game. It also includes support for colour blind players, and Charles is working on making the game even more accessible.

And in the field of gaming for blind users, Brian Smith, a P.H.D. Candidate in Columbia Engineering, has written software called The RAD (Racing Auditory Display), that gives a blind user the full experience of playing car racing games. Even as a non-gamer, I’m intrigued about what uses this technology could be put to. I’m convinced it could be both fun and educational. Spacial learning is really important and something I lacked growing up. I think having a safe, gameplay-style way to start appreciating and thinking about the traffic patterns that both drivers and pedestrians must take into account could be very valuable.

For this and much more, check out our piece on accessible gaming. I’m thrilled so much is happening in this world to include marginalized communities and those with diverse abilities in all things gaming.

Learn more by tuning in to AMI This Week, Monday at 8 p.m. Eastern on AMI-tv. Want to read more from Grant? Search his name!