The non-profit AbleGamers Foundation will see the opening of its first permanent arcade for gamers with disabilities on October 10 in Washington D.C.
The Accessibility Arcade, as it’s being called, is a concept that has been previously tested temporarily, being traced back as at a conference in Boston four years ago. However, the new location at the Washington public library’s main Martin Luther King branch has plans to remain there permanently.
Venetia Demson, chief of the DC Public Library’s Adaptive Services Division, stated the following:
“We’re looking forward to welcoming new and experienced gamers with disabilities of all ages to the library for a unique experience. When properly used, video games can be an important learning tool for literacy, spatial reasoning and curriculum support as well as a wonderful social experience.”
The AbleGamers Foundation aims to make digital media and entertainment more accessible to disabled gamers in order to improve their lives.
Analysis: I share the sentiment stated by Mark Barlet, president of the AbleGamers Foundation, who said, “Game accessibility is not an idea, it’s a movement.” Really, I couldn’t agree more. Shortly after PAX Prime 2012, the Game Accessibility Guideline launched as a tool to demonstrate to developers how inexpensive incorporating the necessary options to accommodate to everyone could be, at least if they were planned to be incorporated from the start of development. The guideline even offers three tiers of accessibility—Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced—which honestly could improve games for everyone, not just those affected by disabilities.
If developers have the means and it suits the genre and gameplay offered by the game, there is no reason for them to not implement the necessary components. Additionally, the positive recognition of doing so would greatly benefit the developer moving forward.
Hopefully, this is only the start of the industry beginning to move in a direction where it’s more open to those who are disabled, and I wish the AbleGamers Foundation luck in their latest endeavor. May this be not the last we hear of the Accessibility Arcade, either. According to Mark Barlet, he’s been “dreaming about this day,” and this is definitely a monumental moment for the organization.