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Academia and industry combine forces to push forward gaming accessibility

Research into how video games can be made more accessible is being led by a computer science team from a UK university, who will work with game developers and partners including the BBC.

Dr Michael Heron and Dr Michael Crabb from the School of Computing Science and Digital Media at Robert Gordon University, Scotland, will also explore how academic institutions can help identify problems faced by gamers with disabilities.

A grant of £3,800 has been awarded to the project by the Scottish Informatics and Computer Science Alliance (SICSA), which will be used to run a series of workshops that bring together game developers and academics.

Dr Heron told e-Access Bulletin that: “The key thing is getting people in a room and talking about how we can improve the general state of accessibility in recreational entertainment. Accessibility support can be very contextual, especially when someone may have a blend of requirements – what works for one person will not necessarily work for another. These are the kinds of issues we believe academia is well-placed to help with.”

The BBC’s R&D (Research and Development) department will help facilitate two initial workshops. The first will focus on identifying what the gaming industry needs from academia to tackle accessibility issues, while the second will deeper explore these findings.

The project is the first stage in a larger programme of research on what can be done to help the industry develop inclusive products, said Heron. Both he and Dr Crabb are keen gamers, and have written extensively on accessible ICT and gaming.

Heron said: “Academia and the video games industry often don’t talk especially well to each other, and we’re hoping that we can begin the process of a more meaningful dialogue. We hope that this programme will be productive in sparking an ongoing conversation about how we can improve the inclusivity of this hugely important commodity of modern society.”


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