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May 16, 2007



"How Design Within Stringent Limitations Yields Marketable and Profitable Innovation"


It's a difficult topic, for all the reasons you've experienced... my sense is, tho, that developers of all kinds have huge pressure on them to perform, to make successful games. So their attention is rather focused, I think. However, cite some of the info in your last paragraph above, and spin it (yes, that word) as a chance to uncover a huge new passionate market segment... and I'd guess you'll find a lot more interest.


That's what it comes down to, though: Although designing inside of the limitations of the disabled might be a challenge, it's not "interesting", nor is there any real sign it will be profitable. And it immediately conjures images from that Sci-Fi story (I foget the name or the author) where everyone has to be average, so people who are strong are forced to wear weights, people who are pretty have to wear masks, and people who are smart have ear-shattering noises or electric shocks inflicted on them so they can't carry a thought. The implication is that if we restrict a game such that it is playable by the disabled, nobody else will want any part of it.

The fan-mail I remember best from DAoC was from a person with a disease that affected her cartilage. The tag line that stuck out was "Playing Camelot causes minimal joint pain and swelling." Okay.... Not the most inspiring endorsement to put in your advertising campaign or business plan.

When game designers talk about "accessibility", it's in terms of the technological target: "How new a machine is going to be required to play this game?" What infirmities will be compatible with gameplay? Not even on our radar (although I did have a long argument with others in the development of Camelot over red-green color confusion, and how common it is).

If you want to see games with the kind of accessibility you're talking about, they'll have to be designed by people with the conditions in question. It's easier for me to figure out what might be "fun" for a teenaged girl, than for a blind person.

That being said, the "Top Ten" list you link strikes me as just good game design principles in general, although in some cases absolute adherence might be prohibitively expensive.



Ah the "proof" :) Well, perhaps I'll talk sooner than later about the blind community that has just gone out and created their own games figuring that the mainstream may never figure out how to design for them as an audience. Tomorrow I'll talk about game controllers that are essentially DIY hacks but also essentially great.

Sci Fi isn't that far away...we already have biofeedback controllers that some disabled gamers are using (think: "Jedi Mind Trick"). Then...what if someone developed an audio game using the wii and their motion sensor controllers and had to hit things using "the force" because there were no visuals? Then...what if a gang of angry parents sued that company because of all the damage done to the living room...



Another thing to think about is why do we (all of us) initially interpret "accessible" as "limited?" Is it less creative to create a game based on a seemingly narrow premise? Is it more creative to create a game assuming that everyone is just like you? You never know...stick in a not everyday design constraint and you might reveal a new way of gaming that might make things worth the gamble. The Wii is a great example of of a gamble that and for some gamers with mobility limitations -- those who are paraplegic versus quadriplegic -- the Wii has been absolutely amazing. And on the topic of "accidental" accessibility ideas...ThinkGeek had an April Fools Day joke for a Wii controller that resulted in a lot of inquiries about "yeah, but if you did this FOR REAL, I'd buy one" from disabled and non-disabled gamers alike.


"Another thing to think about is why do we (all of us) initially interpret "accessible" as "limited?"

From a product design perspective, the more percentiles I need to accommodate when designing a product, the more constrained I am by the need to meet the needs of each group. The design is thus "limited" to solutions that meet every target user's needs. That typically means the solution has to be more creative though, not less.

Same is true when I was on an aircraft design project, only instead of product design ergonomic percentiles we put all the aircraft's performance requirements into a kind of solution matrix. The more requirements, the more constrained we were in our potential solutions. Same difference.


Yeah, I can understand that -- "limited" is just one of those demons we deal with on a regular basis and, as you said, sometimes the solution has to be more creative, not less.

I'm reading an excellent book on digital disability right now that I'll post a short review of/insane ramblings from my brain about before my blog month is over. It has a lot to tell us about technology and disability that applies to gaming.


I have to think that $ is the root issue: folks don't see the cost-benefit analysis adding up for them and their bottom lines. I don't know if there's a way to show that it could (maybe there is).

But another tack would be the sort of social justice angle, I guess.

But y'all aren't dumb or inexperienced, so you have probably been over this ground already. (And you pointed in the direction of a legal approach, that ADA should extend (or be extended) into the virtual space.)


"so you have probably been over this ground already"

As has the Industrial Design community. About fifteen years ago there was a lot of buzz about "Universal" design. It produced a few hits (e.g. OXO), but for the most part everyone just went back to the same old thing: same target demographic, rehashing the same solutions using the same processes, and mostly ignoring the possibilities that come from reframing the problem.

It *is* a dollar issue. And a career issue, a risk issue, a mindset issue, a cultural issue...

The reason, in my opinion, that the Wii exists isn't because Nintendo wanted to pursue it, but because they were forced to pursue it. Nintendo's people aren't any smarter or more creative than those at Sony or MS. They were just desperate enough to leave their comfort zone.


Just saw this: http://www.we-make-money-not-art.com/archives/009534.php

Perfect example. The apparent goal was for the artist to control the viewer's perspective; something I'd venture a lot of gallery owners would want. Yet by controlling the viewer, they've also equalized accessibility.

Gallery owners probably wouldn't want something like this. It'd be expensive to install. It usurps individual control (and people with money to spend probably don't like to have control taken from them). And it requires additional effort/cost to maintain.

The question I'd ask is: have gallery owners investigated whether there is an untapped market? Perhaps the biggest market are those who are elderly and confined to wheel chairs.

I'd venture no one's even bothered to find out.

Beyond that, there are other advantages to the approach. If a gallery owner can ensure artists that they'll have greater control over the Experience, they might attract better artists (who sell more expensive work yet agree to higher commissions).

And what about... *insert scary music*... advertising? Imagine if a gallery teamed up with an art house theater? Maybe somewhere in the gallery is a small poster advertising a film (hopefully related to the gallery show). Everyone keeps talking about metrics this and metrics that, well here's a way to count the eyeballs and then maybe see how many of them ask for a discount coupon to the theater, etc etc etc.

Will I see something like this in a local gallery. Snowball's chance in hell.


"Microtargetting Your Core Customer Base: Why Bother?"

Building accessibility functionality into your game is essentially a microtargetting exercise. If you can answer this question, you can start bringing industry people around to why they would WANT to build these things into their games.

I've been through this on the commercial software side, it really comes down to a question of development dollars and ROI.


Hmm...well, just as things come down to $$$ when it comes to design of games, museum exhibits, etc...things come down to money on our part too. We are a group without funding (we're trying -- REALLY trying -- to get some sponsorship!) that could help us get our message out to an even wider audience and introduce game companies to things that they might already be doing that they could, with a tiny bit of effort, further exploit to make their game accessible to at least those with one disability (e.g., the hearing impaired).

The point about Nintendo being forced to make a gamble is very legit, IMHO -- they really did have to take a risk that could have easily killed them off...but they were at death's door already. I wonder if smaller studios might be willing to take the tax break (more on this in a separate post) to take a gamble on accessibility (there's a $10k tax break in it if you are in the US) if they find that they are sinking anyway? We have been working with a few smaller studios to let them know that there is some money in adding an accessibility feature into their games. The movement for accessibility right now is in the indie game dev community -- they are always the ones that are able to take the risks because they aren't supporting thousands (and more) employees that would be in serious trouble if things went wrong. And many indie devs also have other jobs. As do I and every person in my SIG. So we do meet eye to eye with a part of the gaming community, especially those behind the one-button game cell phone movement -- those are simply the same thing that some of us have been working on for years (again, another post -- I think I have about 20 in the queue now!).

Universal accessibility has been around for a long time, that's for sure. I've been working on accessibility in games for about 5 years but before that I was working on web and computer accessibility. The problem with web accessibility seems to have come from such stringent standards that were WAY beyond the independent web designer. I (maybe "We") don't want giant manuals of how to create accessible game designs -- we'd rather see solutions that are easily implemented by anyone. We're working on it but it would be nice to work on it with the support of the Microsofts, Nintendos, and Sonys (or even just ONE of them). So far...we are that snowball in hell.



Taking your airplane design analogy, what if you could place controls on each seat that allow each person to mold the chair down to the molecule level and provide the most perfect fit for them? That's what software has the potential to do and since videogames are software, there's no reason why we can't provide accessibility features for all people. If someone is deaf, they have the OPTION to turn on closed captioning. If they are mobility impaired, there should be OPTIONS to change controls, button mappings, input devices or even character actions, maybe jump can be made automatic when a player tries to move forward but an obstacle blocks their path.

So, when you say you would be limited by having to design the game with the lowest common denominator in mind, I don't agree. You can and should be able to put in all of your ideas, but have ways to allow players to customize how they interact with those designs.

We've never seen a game like that before, but that's the holy grail of game accessibility in my opinion. Customizing a game so completely that anyone can play it.


Setting aside for a moment the amount of money it would take to make game software that was completely adaptable, I think we need to refocus this conversation on the topic that TerraNova is centered around -- virtual worlds. We're not talking about single player games with hours of voice acting and simple control schemes. Virtual worlds, and in particular game-based virtual worlds, are a completely different animal. And there seems to be a widespread lack of understanding regarding the amount of interaction required to play a game-based virtual world/MMOG.

Let's take World of Warcraft for example. The product, as it's sold on store shelves, allows you to customize the interface to a huge extent. You can re-map every single key and mouse function. You can change the color, size, and placement of text chat. You can modify multiple sound options independent of each other. You can choose from literally thousands of UI add-ons made by other WoW players, or make your own. You can even modify WoW to run on your Wii, if you really wanted to (though I doubt you can get all the functionality of a keyboard and mouse into a Wiimote). WoW is widely heralded as the MMOG with the most customizable UI (and I'm certain that Blizzard spent a pretty penny to make it that way).

And yet for all that, it would be very difficult, maybe impossible, to modify WoW in such a way as to allow someone with a disability to compete at the same level as someone without a disability. (After all, we're talking massively multiplayer here, so how well you play compared to everyone else does make a difference.) As your character levels up, combat takes so much input from the mouse and keyboard that experienced gamers without disabilities have trouble finding a combination of keybindings that they can access quickly and easily. Sound is also highly important in combat, as it can make you aware of impending danger just off your screen -- though I suppose that someone could make a mod that showed those impending dangers visually instead of audibly.

But I don't see how WoW or any other MMOG could be modified to allow the blind to play. A non-game virtual world, maybe, but MMOGs simply have too much visual information that has to be processed by the user. At a certain point, it's like asking for a car for the blind.

Game accessibility is a topic that more developers should be aware of, but it's also important for the proponents of game accessibility to realize that when you're talking about MMOGs, you may well be asking for the impossible. As long as MMOGs center on combat in one form or another, translating the visual cues to audio cues is going to be nearly impossible.

One last important point: since WoW launched, Blizzard has several times taken ideas from the UI mod community and implemented them as options within the default version of WoW's UI. So if there isn't a mod out there that changes combat audio cues into visual cues, or a mod that allows the player to change display colors to account for color blindness, or whichever, perhaps the first step is for the Game Accessibility community to create that mod themselves?


So, when you say you would be limited by having to design the game with the lowest common denominator in mind, I don't agree. You can and should be able to put in all of your ideas, but have ways to allow players to customize how they interact with those designs.

I think you're taking my words out of context. I was answering a specific question:

why do we (all of us) initially interpret "accessible" as "limited?"

I believe there is a legitimate perception that having to accommodate a greater number of variations using the same constraints forces limits on the acceptable range of lowest common denominators.

Is this always true in practice.

No. And I didn't say it was.

A creative solution can and sometimes does come along which goes against the common wisdom. But not often enough, imo, to change the behavior pointed out in the question.


We could also try to persuade the Vegas strip-clubs : the girls should be trained for and available ( accessible ? ) to blinds . Well ofcourse no discrimination there , the non-disabled persons should have an equal access , but i can imagine the blind ones ....a massive participation if i may say so. And because it's about virtual worlds, i'm still waiting for the " tactile " interactive devices ; that would be a sort of : " Prok, actually gimme ur tits ".


csven: "The reason, in my opinion, that the Wii exists isn't because Nintendo wanted to pursue it, but because they were forced to pursue it. Nintendo's people aren't any smarter or more creative than those at Sony or MS. They were just desperate enough to leave their comfort zone."

I disagree. I once read an insightful article or comment somewhere pointing out that Nintendo's design culture has a very long tradition of introducing new input methods as a way of stimulating new gameplay styles. Long before the Wii, long before the DS, even before the Power Glove, there was Duck Hunt -- in 1984. Input device innovation is their comfort zone.

When I was a teenager, my dad taught that the "spirit" of an organization flows from two fonts: the nature of its founding and the character its leadership. (In other words, those two influences are the most likely explanation for an organization's behavior at any given point -- citations of circumstances always beg the question, "But why did they react that way?") I haven't done a rigorous study so I can't rule out selective perception; however, my own observations have only confirmed and refined his theory in my mind.


"I once read an insightful article or comment somewhere pointing out that Nintendo's design culture has a very long tradition of introducing new input methods as a way of stimulating new gameplay styles."

If I read it, I might form a different opinion. Any chance of a link?


To comment on Samantha's post -- yes, I realize that Terra Nova is focused on virtual worlds but I don't see why the involvement of console or non-MMOGs can't be brought up, as there are design thoughts that can be implemented by MMOG companies or mod designers for MMOGs. The programming solutions may not be the same but the issues and general design solutions either are or are very similar.

It's interesting that you bring up the game accessibility community creating a mod for themselves -- I'm going to bring in Reid Kimball's Doom3[cc] mod over the weekend and ask him to comment on exactly the amount of work it took and the issues he faced while making that mod. So our members ARE doing exactly that.

As an advocacy group (IGDA Game Accessibility), we are few (a loud few...but few). The issue of creating a mod for SL has come up but we need more people to join in. That's the main point of all of my posts -- the hope that more people become interested and join us. A game company has far more resources than we ever will. Essentially, we cannot do everything alone and saying that the solution lies only with us is akin to telling the blind that learning how to navigate in the actual world is solely their concern. So if we started building a mod for WoW or SL for whatever accessibility concerns, would people join in? And this is where Reid Kimball will have a lot to say, as he recruited from the gaming community to create his closed captioning mod for Doom 3. And this is something that Reid did on his own time outside of his regular full time job as a game designer.


Michelle Hinn said, yes, I realize that Terra Nova is focused on virtual worlds but I don't see why the involvement of console or non-MMOGs can't be brought up

People generally try to limit discussions here to topics pertaining to virtual worlds. From the "About TN" link at the top of the page:

[Terra Nova] is about an emerging social phenomenon called "virtual worlds" -- computer-generated, persistent, immersive, and representational social platforms... Posts at Terra Nova will offer news and opinions regarding the social, economic, legal, psychological, and political aspects of these worlds.

...there are design thoughts that can be implemented by MMOG companies or mod designers for MMOGs. The programming solutions may not be the same but the issues and general design solutions either are or are very similar.

I'm not sure how to put this delicately... No, they aren't. Designing a MMOG is hugely different from designing a single player (or even limitedly multiplayer) game. When you're talking about hundreds of thousands of players, or more, competing and cooperating in a persistent social environment, the issues you have to take into account while designing are a completely different set than what you have to deal with when designing a single-player game -- and designing a non-game virtual world bears nearly nothing in common with designing single-player games.

There are interesting accessibility issues that are unique to MMOGs, and issues unique to non-game virtual worlds -- topics which fit within the mission statement of Terra Nova. If you want to get the attention, interest, and cooperation of MMOG developers, the first step is to show that you understand the design and technical limitations (to say nothing of the financial limitations!) that MMOG developers face. Declaring that MMOGs are highly similar to single-player games, and should include remappable controls, closed captioning for all dialogue, and a broad range of difficulty settings isn't likely to get you anything more than an eye roll from the majority of MMOG developers.

I'm going to bring in Reid Kimball's Doom3[cc] mod over the weekend and ask him to comment on exactly the amount of work it took and the issues he faced while making that mod. So our members ARE doing exactly that.

Glad to hear it. If you have any interest in MMOGs, I would strongly suggest that you look into the modding tools for WoW (good FAQ here). I haven't created any WoW mods myself (I've always been able to find the functionality I'm looking for in an existing mod), but my understanding is that WoW mods are created using a combination of Lua and XML. Given that, as well as Blizzard's support of the modding community and the size of the community itself, it may actually be quite easy to create the sort of mod you're interested in.

A game company has far more resources than we ever will.

Again, I think Game Accessibility as a group needs to understand the realities of professional game development -- and since we're discussing this on Terra Nova, the realities of professional MMOG and virtual world development. Commercial virtual worlds are created as a business, and as such, most companies will not throw resources at a problem without a clearly mapped out cost-benefit analysis. You aren't the first to rail against this reality, and you won't be the last. But the sooner you accept that game companies are not going to spend millions of dollars developing something unless they have specific numbers regarding how they will make that money back, the sooner you will be able to transition into a productive partnership with professional game developers.

It's unclear to me whether you have an interest in virtual worlds specifically, even as a subset of wider game accessibility, but if you do, and if you are willing to do the legwork required to get the attention of professional MMOG developers, here is what I would suggest: Get involved in the WoW modding community. Learn how to create add-ons for WoW, and see if there are others within the existing WoW mod community who would be interested in collaborating on a mod. Personally, I would start with a mod that translates sounds from combat to directional visual cues, as that is something that isn't already included in WoW and is, from what I know, one of the few barriers to the deaf playing WoW (since nearly all communication in WoW is text based already). Don't bill it as a "special interest mod". Mention the applicability to deaf players, but also point out that it would be useful to hearing players who don't have headphones or a sound card, or who have to turn off their sound due to roommates or children, or even just for that added edge in combat. Once you've created the mod, put it up for download at a place that will show the number of times it's been downloaded. Then come back here and tell us of your progress. You never know, Blizzard might be listening.


Ok...whoa. Let's back up a bit. My main interest in posting at TN was to let people know about the things we know about games in general and then see, from the readership, how or if they apply to MMOGs. You have me -- I don't fully understand MMOGs but I do have about 15 years of experience in electronic accessibility in the web industry AND the game industry. I *do* have an interest in MMOG accessibility but I don't play them and there's a reason why that is -- lack of accessibility for me. I'm here on TN for this month to try and tell the story of game accessibility and how there *might* be some similarities with other electronic media like MMOGs. I see many other lines of discussion that go beyond MMOGs here so I thought that sharing my ideas, introducing people to the group and, yes, being a bit provocative would be ok. I want to raise awareness and see if we can all put our heads together and think about accessibility within MMOGS and I do thank you for your ideas about a WoW mod, as I think that's a productive idea.

But why is there the assumption that I am only talking about SINGLE player games, for instance? And I only said that the accessibility problems with MMOGs can be similar, not that MMOGs and console games are the same. The blind don't play a lot of console games either. We deal with the issues of multiplayer environments every day and there are people working on accessible mods for MMOGs -- we're just not there yet.

It's interesting to me when the funding issues come up time after time -- ie, how many people are we talking about? Well, worldwide, twice the population of the United States. How many would be gamers? Perhaps it's the same as the percentage of the non-disabled community that are gamers (although I'm pretty sure no survey has separated that in their calculations). Perhaps it would be more, as electronic entertainment options are severely limited for many disabled populations.

But one thing I never hear is "Ok, what if we took just one accessibility feature and ran with it? How much WOULD it cost?" Every company has different values that translate into how much they are willing to put behind ANY feature in a game. So how much would it cost to think early on about including something that just one user group would require (not knowing that it *might* also be something useful for other gamers)?

I know...no one is going to run those numbers and it's not something that is going to be the same price at each and every company. My main point with this posting was that we don't get people in the door at all and when we contact companies, we don't get a response. It's sad to say but even if it's to rally against the practicalities of game accessibility, I've already reached more people than those who show up for our sessions at GDC, etc.

It's interesting (at least to me) to note the similarities between the resistance to adding accessibility features to MMOGs because of the expense to the fights that occurred when it became mandatory to provide curb cuts for those in wheel chairs, etc. It was seen as too expensive and non-aesthetically pleasing. But now those same curb cuts are used by bicyclists, parents with strollers, etc. Wheel chairs as a technology did not automatically improve things for those that need them -- the physical world around us had to change. A single mod might also not automatically improve things -- the virtual world around us may also need to change. If we build the technology that will allow blind gamers to gain at least some sort of access to Second Life, will Linden Labs accommodate changes within their own product that might need to happen to meet us part of the way? I don't know the answer to this. It's worth a try but it will take a while -- the unfortunately reality is that we (the game accessibility community) don't have the luxury in people power to make a mod for every style of game environment even if we have the numbers in interested players. So it comes down to funding for us too. That's the sad reality. One could make the case that if we can't provide enough people to make a mod or start the discussion about accessibility on every game forum (MMOG, FPS, Driving, Sex, etc) that there isn't enough interest in the community. But what percentage of ANY gamer knows how and does create a game mod? If a particular game can be modded and not too many people bother to learn the intricacies of that, does that mean that the game is automatically a bust? I don't know. So I'm here not to just inform people about the issues of game accessibility and the lack of interest that the issue receives but also in the hopes from learning from THIS community about how we can get gamers with disabilities into these game worlds because the social value of MMOGs *could* be much higher for the disabled community. And, perhaps, entice a reader or two to help us out.

So far, for many, MMOGs remain a brave new world. Literally.


Interestingly, my very first real, conversational encounter in Second Life was with a player who, in RL, was (by his own description), "extremely disabled;" unable to walk at all, partial upper-body paralysis and some pretty severe speech impediments all related to spine and nerve damage suffered after an accident of some sort.

After close to an hour of chat, he revealed to me that he loved SL because (and I'll paraphrase): "In here, not only can I walk again, but I can fly, and build houses and change how I look and help other people get better at those things, too."

And he was very, very helpful. He was an SL vet of more than a year, and I'd only been on once before, and had lots of questions. He gave me some great tips and some ideas of things to do.

I remember thinking that that was pretty cool. Here's a game/VW space where a disabled guy can do some cool stuff that gets him (in his own words) out of his body a bit. And through essentially mental effort on his part, he can totally excel.

Did his RL disabilities make him a better player in SL than he might have been otherwise? I have no idea. He needn't have told me about his real life at all... we were just in the middle of a longish chat and he brought it up.

I'm not sure what any of this means. Just bringing it up as illustrative of something I've found, having known a number of people with pretty severe disabilities, including my father-in-law. What I've observed is that the disabled often bring loads of creativity and industriousness to many projects when even a crack of accessibility is made available.


Thanks Andy,

Yes, it's very true that some groups of disabled gamers really find their gaming home in MMOGs. And luckily, due to the Computer platform (versus console) there are a LOT of accessible controllers that work with a whole load of software, not just gaming software. But, yes, it sometimes takes that little bit of awareness by companies to go a long, long way.

Accessibility is no easy topic, as "the disabled" includes a LOT of types, variations, and ranges. One thing the game accessibility group is very interested in are the "positives" as well as the barriers -- as often as we can, we point out what we know to be true that the game industry AS A WHOLE and specific companies on a particular title are doing that is, perhaps, "accidental accessibility" but accessibility nonetheless.

Reid Kimball just posted to me about an issue that faced Star Wars Galaxies when they changed controls and suddenly mobility impaired gamers could no longer play the game. I'm not able to find out what the final solution was, only that LucasArts was aware of it and working on a solution at the time, but there's a discussion thread about it on the Wired Forums. So there's one example of a company that had things right for that particular disabled community that headed backward with regard to accessibility by accident.


Designing for accessability is just good design. When designers really care about their audience they will find ways to accomodate the whole audience. When I started thinking about making the game available to everyone there were many adjustments that cost almost nothing when done early enough (supporting colorblind users with alternate display palettes, eliminating keyboard use for routine tasks, doing keybinding). And in nearly every instance making the game accessible made it better for all players.

Impose limits on yourself as a designer and you will get better designs. Simplify, refine, polish, and support the largest possible audience you can - that is the difference between 'classic' games and bin filler.


I guess I hit Post too quickly - I thought it would be worth mentioning what 'opened my eyes' - it was a point-by-point review score of Age of Empires (1997) by an accessability newsletter. I corresponded with the author (a paraplegic) and started to see my game in a new way.

Just looking at their scoring criteria got me thinking about a variety of different accessability challenges that the designer in me just had to take a shot at creative ways to fix.

There wasn't any additional budget - so I didn't get in everything I would have liked, but it was eye opening.

If only the choir is showing up - why not redirect your efforts to a widely distributed 'self test' made availble by the SIG and occasional public reviews of popular products. The reason for reviewing popular products is that publishers will start to take notice and see how their compating product measures up.


csven: "If I read it, I might form a different opinion. Any chance of a link?"

Fortunately, it popped right up at the top of my first search: Nintendo's Genre Innovation Strategy: Thoughts on the Revolution's new controller by Danc on Lost Garden. I'd forgotten how big it was! I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did.


Huh. I just read the second result of that search, Will the Nintendo Wii keep its lead? by Mark on Ethnography.com. The relevant quote (to our tangent about Nintendo's motivations) is, "I found a patent Nintendo filed in 1999 (#7,145,551) for a “Two-handed computer input device with orientation sensor”"


Hi Mark T. -- Actually the reviewing of popular mainstream games is exactly the direction we're moving toward because one thing we like to do is tell people what they are also doing right so they don't remove it without realizing that they are losing a base of consumers they didn't think about. But we also do, of course, point out whenever we can specific things that *could* be accessible but are not in any one game. We're making plans to launch a review portal -- there's already AbleGamers, which is dedicated to reviewing MMOGs for accessibility and they will be participating in this portal as well. I'm writing a post about them now, in fact! :) There are other disability review sites but I thought that this one was most "on topic" for TN. So reviews do exist -- we're just trying to centralize them via a portal so that it's easy to point people toward them and the resources that can help with the solutions to accessibility problems.


@Scientivore - thanks for the links. The first one is especially interesting.

In the end, however, I basically come to the same conclusion. That does not, however, mean I disagree with what that author is saying. I just think that it's possible - and likely - Nintendo took on more risk than is normal. Even for them.

There were a number of articles prior to the Revolution's release that gave me a sense of the situation at Nintendo which is influencing my opinion (some of which read like obituaries). Here's one on Ars Technica (Link - premium content, but enough there to understand my point). From that article snippet:

Shiota admitted that this was a risky decision. "Diverging from the road map takes a fair amount of courage," he said, "especially when we didn't have a clear image of what we were going to do with this hardware."

Comments like that are why I feel Nintendo strayed beyond even their comfort zone.


As for the patent you mention, that wasn't filed by Nintendo. It's a Microsoft patent and it wasn't even awarded until 2006.

I've not read it, but I believe the relevant patent may be this one - Link. This was submitted to the USPTO in March 2007, but it appears that Nintendo is referencing a 2005 Japanese patent of theirs.

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