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Game accessibility news roundup: 3/10/09

Virtual Finance Teaches Real Financial Skills in Second Life. Nathalie Caron of Game Forward writes of a Credit Union Island in Second Life which is designed to help teenagers learn about "real life financial decisions" such as taking out a college loan. While the Virtual Finance tutorial set up by Ohio University is not meant for people with disabilities in particular, something similar could help those with certain kinds of disabilities practice financial skills.

Xerte is a free, open source toolkit for creating quizzes, presentations and other learning applications. It was developed by the University of Nottingham. While Xerte's primary purpose is to make educational media, it's capable of making games (e.g. using Flash) as well. Xerte has many features to make applications accessible to people with disabilities. There's a choice of color schemes that provide good contrast between text and background colors and have been tested against many types of color blindness. It's easy to make applications controllable with the keyboard rather than the mouse, as well as to enable text-to-speech output.

7128 Software announces their top picks of websites for gamers who are blind, sites for gamers with mobility impairments and sites for gamers who are Deaf. (GameCritics is #8 out of 10 on the last list; though it lists our attention to games' accessibility for Deaf and hard of hearing gamers as "recent," GC has been doing it for years).

David the Grammar Nerd, Volume 1

David the Grammar Nerd, Volume 1

With the recent rush of quality user reviews coming in, it's nice to see that there are a lot of people who know how to write and communicate effectively. Unfortunately, with many Internet scribes using "lol" as punctuation, it's time for the first (and hopefully final, but I doubt it) installment of David: The Grammar Nerd.

Quickie: Study examines benefites of DDR for people with disabilities

Dance Dance Revolution

West Virginia was the first school system in the United States to incorporate a video game (Konami's Dance Dance Revolution) into its physical education curriculum. Now, West Virginia University, ResCare Home Care and the Special Olympics are conducting a study to see if the series has benefits for people with disabilities. According to the very small blurb I was able to find, "Participants will play the game three days a week, for eight weeks. If it is successful, the Special Olympics may consider making 'DDR' a competitive event during its annual games."

Game accessibility news roundup: 2/10/09

Since this past weekend was my birthday (I got several games, including one I'm ashamed to have taken so long to get to), this week's post is another trilogy of disability-related gaming news.

A woman with long dark hair stands in front of a factory wearing a white, backless, sleeveless dress. She is facing right, looking off into the distance.

Heather Kuzmich, a finalist on cycle nine of America's Next Top Model who won nine CoverGirl of the Week awards and has a form of autism called Asperger Syndrome, is studying video game-art design at the Illinois Institute of Art. In an interview with founder of Voodoo PC Rahul Snood, she said:

To be honest, I always wanted to do something that included art and creating stuff with my hands. At first I wanted to get into costume design, but that soon changed to game design, especially since I frigging love games and love doing weird designs for characters.

Killzone 2 demo impressions

Killzone 2

I was going to write this week's blog entry about the general topic of "gameplay" and how it's defined (exciting, I know), but instead I've decided to shelve that idea in favor of something much more topical: namely, the new Killzone 2 demo, which I just had the unexpected pleasure of downloading and playing, thanks to some PSN trickery. Here are my initial thoughts.

Yes, the graphics are very good. In fact, these might be the best graphics I've seen in a game. (Before people start bringing up Crysis or whatever other graphics-heavy PC game they like to jerk off to, just bear in mind that I don't play PC games, so that's not what I'm talking about here.) The gritty atmosphere, the wind and dust, the explosions, the sunlight breaking through the hazy sky, all of it looks fantastic. The visuals aren't so much a giant leap above competitors like Gears of War 2 and Call of Duty 4 as they are a small step. But it's definitely a noticeable step.

NEC Foundation awards grant for therapeutic video games

The NEC Foundation of America has awarded a $32,000 grant to the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) "to support the dissemination and use of therapeutic video games to serve children with severe sensory and motor disabilities," according to NJIT's press release.

The website for NJIT's Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC) says that:

The video game platform contains games with programmable graphics objects. Each game piece behaves in a preprogrammed fashion, following specified rules. These rules may alter movement pattern, changing shape, color or size and even disappearing altogether. Each game piece is capable of assessing its environment and calculating its distance from the nearest object in a specified direction.

The Horror Geek Presents: Dante's Inferno Teaser Trailer

Awhile back I posted some stories about a Hollywood bidding war that broke out for the movie rights to an unannounced videogame from Electronic Arts based on Dante’s The Divine Comedy. Well, at the SpikeTV Videogame Awards show the other night, EA finally confirmed that the game is indeed coming (it’ll be titled Dante’s Inferno) and they unveiled a teaser promo for the game as well.

There’s not much gameplay on display in the trailer (or really any for that matter…) but it’s still nice to see the game officially confirmed. No release date has been set yet, but it appears that the game is tentatively scheduled for release in 2009.

On the Download: Bejewled Twist launch party

Tonight, the evening of October 27, gamers and journalists from across the country gathered at the Experience Music Project in the heart of Seattle to celebrate the release of PopCap Games' newest offering: Bejweled Twist.

On the Download: World of Goo tastes good

Despite my hesitation to comply with the $15 price point that's been occurring more frequently on the various download services, I've been hearing nothing but good about World of Goo via WiiWare and decided to take the plunge—thankfully, the word on the ‘net was correct.


The art style is great

On the Download: Is $15 too much for arcade downloads?

 

With the resounding success (on any platform) of the download model, publishers and developers are now starting to cash in as the price for electronic delivery creeps up.

Although $10 had been originally thought to be the sweet spot for consumers (I agree), more and more titles are now sporting a $15 price tag.

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