Over the weekend, AbleGamers, the nonprofit organization that focuses on creating opportunities that enable play, in order to combat social isolation, foster inclusive communities, and improve the quality of life for people with disabilities through the power of video games held the first annual Video Game Accessibility Awards. The VGAAwards was created to help celebrate games that are going above and beyond to provide a variety of options to make playing more accessible for everyone. In a unique twist, every award and category is about different aspects of accessibility in video games. Categories included Second Channel, Improved Precision, Clear Text, Do More With Less, Play Alongside, Bypass, Training Ground, House Rules, and Helping Hand.
Talking about the creation of the Video Game Accessibility Awards, AbleGamers’ Steve Spohn said: “So for the first of our lives, we’re living in an era where accessibility is finally being celebrated. You can see it throughout the game industry. You can feel it in social media spheres and you feel in the industry, things are changing; things are getting more accessible and we wanted to come together for first of its kind way of celebrating that.”
Co-Creator and Co-Host Alanah Pearce said: “We basically wanted to come together and celebrate games that are doing accessibility right or rather are making strides are taking steps forward to making things more accessible.”
Another thing that makes the Video Game Accessibility Awards unique is the fact that it provided information about the various categories, raising awareness for those who may not be aware of some of the issues that gamers with disabilities face.
Same Controls But Different essentially refers to the ability to remap the controls of a game. Second Channel refers to the additional channels of information via different modalities that players can select so they reliably take information from the game or its interfaces. These are helpful for players who struggle to take in information from the game and/or its interfaces via a particular modality, and cannot rely solely on it for information.
Improved Precision is about players who cannot be precise in their actions in the game or its interfaces. Options allow players to adjust the precision of actions so that they can successfully target, move, or navigate in the game or its interfaces. The Clear Text issue is about as straightforward as you can get. Players have a hard time reading the text in the game whether it be too small or something else. The solution to this is that players can change the way the text is presented to them.
Do More With Less is talking about issues some players have when they cannot successfully undertake a sequence of actions required by the game. A solution could be to reduce the number of actions in the sequence so they can continue playing the game. The Play Alongside category looks at the games that allow for other players to help those who cannot progress through the challenges presented by the game.
Bypass is similar to Do More With Less. The difference is that instead of reducing the number of actions, an option could be applied to move past whatever obstacle one might face so that they can continue playing the game. Training Ground refers to the variety of ways that players can practice in their own time so they can make any adjustments and gain the skills needed to succeed.
House Rules is about players who are unable to choose opponents or teammates to play with who have similar skills or preferences to themselves. The solution to this problem is providing options for matching skills or preferences with other players so there is more of a level playing field. Helping Hand is about players who can’t progress through a game without help from the game itself. Players can choose to have the game help them.