Tera Kirk's blog
By Tera Kirk on October 20, 2008 - 4:29pm.
On August 27, 2008, the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and Target announced a $6 mil settlement in a class-action lawsuit concerning the inaccessibility of the Target.com website to blind users.
A major bone of contention in the suit, filed by the NFB in February 2006, was whether the Americans with Disabilities Act applies only to physical spaces, or to virtual ones as well. Target argued:
"Target.com is not a place of public accommodation within the meaning of the ADA, and therefore plaintiffs cannot state a claim under the ADA. Specifically...the complaint is deficient because it does not allege that 'individuals with vision impairments are denied access to one of Target’s brick and mortar stores or the goods they contain.'” (PDF of the decision available at Disability Rights Advocates).
By Tera Kirk on October 8, 2008 - 8:45pm.
Life as a Disabled Gamer is a guest editorial at Game|Life by Andrew Monkelban, a gamer with cerebral palsy who plays one-handed. His piece covers a lot of important issues, but what most interested me was the kinds of games he likes and doesn't like to play, and why:
Up until recently, I've played predominately roleplaying games, with some focus on fighters. However, with the inclusion of online multi-player and other networking features in games and consoles, I've been able to try different titles and genres (i.e. Devil May Cry 4, Grand Theft Auto 4, and Mass Effect).
One example of a genre I can't play is shooters. Mass Effect is in this genre, and I had trouble playing it, due to the controls being too complicated for one-handed gaming. When you need to hold the controller a certain way, it causes problems when needing to reach some buttons.
Gamers are an incredibly diverse group of people, and I don't think most game developers or publishers (or indeed, most gamers, myself included) fully realize just how diverse we are. Can controllers with sensitive analog sticks and lots of little buttons be adapted for someone who needs a larger, simpler setup? Are there certain games and genres that gamers with certain impairments can't play because of the barriers involved? If so, are these barriers truly "just the way things are" or can we fix them? For instance, can we make audio cue-intensive survival horror games and first-person-shooters accessible to Deaf and hard of hearing gamers? (See the Doom 3 closed-captioning/transcription mod).
By blogging about gaming and disability, I hope to examine these and other questions. And, of course, alert readers to some really cool technology and people.
By Tera Kirk on March 11, 2008 - 5:42pm.
Because of a visual-spatial disability, I don't know how to get many places on my own; I wasn't able to get anywhere alone at all until I graduated from college. This kind of freedom is still new to me, and going anywhere without my mom or a friend makes me all giddy, like a 16-year-old with a driver's license.
By Tera Kirk on July 12, 2007 - 12:30am.
What Ubisoft did isn't particularly shocking. They made a mistake—one especially easy to make when you're a French publisher releasing a game to an English-speaking market—and they fixed it. But I'm amazed at how angry some gamers are about it.
By Tera Kirk on July 8, 2007 - 7:44pm.
Film critic Roger Ebert says that video games are not art. A movie, he says, involves "total authorial control": filmmakers tell their stories, and we in the audience follow their leads. But in a video game, the audience are the storytellers to a large extent. So how can there be a cohesive vision of anything?
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