Interview with Steve Spohn from the AbleGamers Foundation

Today we are featuring an interview with AbleGamers Editor-in-Chief, Steve Spohn.  The AbleGamers Accessibility Arcade is being showcased this weekend at the Chicago Abilities Expo.  You can read more about the event and AbleGamers here.

When was the AbleGamer Foundation established and why?

AbleGamers was founded in 2004 by Mark Barlet and Stephanie Walker.  Stephanie and Mark had been playing EverQuest 2 every Friday for a long time. One Friday her MS acted up to the point that she was unable to play.  Mark went to the Internet to find information on how to play games better with a disability and was unable to find any information.  In an attempt to make sure that doesn’t happen to anyone else, AbleGamers was born.

What are some ways that AbleGamers brings greater accessibility to the digital entertainment space?

AbleGamers advocates for the disabled gamer to videogame publishers and developers both on an individual and overall basis.  We provide information on how to best develop video games by rating videogames on a 1 to 10 scale in our review database.  We also do consultation with individual disabled gamers, show them what assistive technologies are available to them, and help them figure out which ones work best for the given situation.  Finally, we being what we call the Accessibility Arcade around the country the various expos and conventions to showcase the latest and greatest technology the assistive technology world has to offer.

What are some of the biggest accessibility challenges in the digital entertainment space?

Raising awareness is one of the hardest things to do.  Convincing developers that they need to add additional time to the development cycle in order to ensure that as many gamers with disabilities can play, with a wide range of disabilities, in each individual game.

What do you think are the most exciting new developments in gaming in terms of accessibility?

Things are constantly changing in the game universe, but we just did a story today about one technology that will help disabled gamers: “Have we found the Holy Grail of Accessibility?” and we have our own device called Adroit that can take up to 10 3.5 mm switches and allow them to be used as an Xbox controller. You can find more information about Adroit on our website.
Are there any games (or game companies) that really stand out in terms of accessibility?

Every year the AbleGamers foundation gives out the Accessible Game of the Year award.  So far we have given it to Warhammer Online, Forza 3, Star Wars the Old Republic, and Dragon Age Origins.


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