by AJ Ryan
On Tuesday, October 11th, I went to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Accessibility Forum with Founder Mark Barlet and Senior Gaming AT Specialist Jessie Hall as AbleGamers’ 2016 Fellow to run an AbleGamers booth and give a presentation on the real reason why game accessibility matters and gamification. It was a beautiful fall day in Bethesda, Maryland, and the colors of the leaves reflected the diversity of industry representatives working together towards accessibility.
When we arrived to set up our booth, I was impressed with how many different industries were represented including multiple branches of the government along with accessibility software developers. At the AbleGamers booth, we were demoing Pillo, a new kind of game controller that’s an actual pillow you move and hug to play games. Seeing the other vendors and attendees reactions to the controller, their enthusiasm once we explained the benefits of the technology was great to see. We also had a few more controllers at our booth like the Adroit and the Nod ring controller. Seeing all the types of switches plugged into the Adroit, the guests who stopped by immediately saw the benefit of the Xbox 360 controller in-a-box. “You can totally play Sonic with these!” I shouted when I drew their attention to a double left-right switch and a big push switch plugged into the Adroit. My favorite part about running the booth was telling everyone how cool controllers like the Pillo and Adroit and seeing the other attendee’s reaction to the AbleGamers’ mission.
Then in the afternoon, Ablegamers lead a presentation on Gamification and Game Accessibility. My main role in the presentation was to explain the benefits of Gamification and how it could be used in training and simulation technology for better accessibility and engagement. I love finding ways for gaming to benefit other industries because I’ve always felt like video games could be used effectively outside of the game industry. Reception to our presentation was positive with everyone in the room brainstorming ways gamification could be used in their industries. After our presentation, NIH was over and I must say, I loved seeing such a large passion for accessibility across industries!