04 October 2022

RNIB and Abertay University hold event to reboot gaming to make it more accessible for those with sight loss

RNIB and Abertay University hold event to reboot gaming to make it more accessible for those with sight loss

The image shows two hands showing two game pads. One of the hands has painted nails.

RNIB and Abertay University hold event to reboot gaming to make it more accessible for those with sight loss

Sight loss charity Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and Abertay University in Dundee will host a pioneering Accessible Gaming Symposium next month.

The event, to be hosted at the University’s Bell Street campus and online on October 5-6, 2022, will bring together developers, academics and gamers with vision impairment to cover a wide range of topics around accessible gaming.

Some of the world’s leading studios have already signed up to attend to discuss inclusivity in gaming.

The event follows on from RNIB’s first ever report into accessible gaming which was published earlier this year.

The research found that around 70 percent of people with sight loss surveyed reported it as a barrier to playing games and used a range of coping strategies to enjoy their gaming hobby.

Alison Long, RNIB’s Director of Consumer and Business Services, said: “At RNIB we’ve been listening to the views of hundreds of people with sight loss, who currently game or say they would like to if more accessible options to play existed. The level of interest already expressed in our first Accessible Gaming symposium demonstrates there’s momentum for change and an appetite for accessible games which isn’t being met.

“Games like The Last of Us Part 1 are embedding extensive accessible features, but plenty of games are still falling short on providing options that would allow those with sight loss to play. By bringing key figures from the industry together, we hope to share a knowledge base that can drive forward better gaming for all.”

Abertay University’s School of Design and Informatics has been running games courses for more than 20 years.

It offers courses including Games Design and Production, Computer Arts and MProf in Games Development.

Its alumni have gone on to work on some of the world’s biggest games titles, with some even setting up their own indie games studios.

Dr Robin Sloan, Abertay University Senior Lecturer in the Division of Games and Arts says:

“We’re thrilled to be working with RNIB to host their first Accessible Gaming Symposium.

“As an international leader in research and innovation for the games sector, Abertay University is ideally placed to help push for progress in this important area with a view to expanding opportunities for gamers with sight loss.

“The symposium will allow us to look at how the wider industry can respond to accessibility needs and ensure there’re considered at the start of the production process.”

A wide range of topics will be covered during the two-day event, including the motivation and mandate to make gaming more accessible, technical challenges which developers face in designing games which are more accessible and identifying areas for further research.  

In recent years, RNIB has facilitated several VI Gaming groups which meet monthly to discuss games and share tips with other players.

Kellie Dingwall, from Edinburgh, who has a congenital eye condition called optic nerve hypoplasia, recently joined a VI gaming group and says it is a great opportunity to connect with others who share her love of gaming. She added: "I won't generally pre-order a new video game, even if it has been really hyped. I wait and do a bit of research to find out how playable it is likely to be.

"I’m registered blind but I can see a little bit. Before buying, I might watch a ’let’s play’ or walkthrough video to get a feel for a game. I’ll also speak to a friend who has a game I’m interested in and they’ll share their screen with me so that I can decide whether it is accessible for me. Informal help is useful, but I hope events like this start more conversations about making games truly accessible."

These gaming groups are made possible through RNIB’s Community Connections network, which is supported by players of the People’s Postcode Lottery.

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