I subscribe to the IGDA's Game Accessibility Special Interest Group (SIG) mailing list, and found this e-mail from SIG chair (and one of Edge Magazine's 100 most influential women in the gaming industry) D. Michelle Hinn, who advocates for diversity in the gaming industry:
I am writing you today because one of the (if not the biggest) Game Developers Conferences is reducing diversity programming at an alarming level. So Diversity topics have REALLY been cheated out of GDC this year I feel. I got one tiny and VERY basic talk accepted but we nearly got knocked out completely — this after getting our best talk scores and feedback ever last year. I've heard similar stories from others in other area of game diversity programming.
I've decided that I'm "running" for a GDC ambassador award [Ed: the ambassador award is at the bottom of the page] because GDC is really squashing out most disability (and diversity programming in general — Chris Bateman, Noah Falstein, Ernest Adams and I have been frothing at the mouth about this…as I am sure you are as well!). For years I've been trying to get a "game accessibility" award in the Annual Game Developers Choice Awards…and we almost had it. Then things shifted with CMP (now ThinkServices, Jamil left CMP and went to EA, etc. And this year we only had one small proposal on the most basic accessibility information accepted, which I can already read the session feedback now…"Why don't you do the Accessibility Arcade or the more advanced/applied sessions anymore?" There is still need for the basics but if GDC wants to really present "the best of/state of the art" talks then some content control has to be given back to those of us who know what people are currently asking from us. But I digress…
This is definitely not an ego trip thing — I feel quite humble asking you for your support on this! Because this is not a Gamasutra Reader "voter" award and is instead chosen by an advisory board I am campaigning so every bit of support will help. I just am getting mad at how little attention (and it's dwindling) we (those of us in all areas of gaming diversity) get and I want accessibility to be recognized! And this is the only way I can think of to have an opportunity, if I happen to win, to say on record "next stop? Game accessibility award for GDC awards!" and give props to those who have always been supportive of the accessibility and diversity message.
I, along with members of the IGDA Game Accessibility SIG that I chair, give our blood sweat and tears to keep game accessibility (making sure games are playable by the disabled, the elderly, etc) in the minds of both academia and industry…and we don't get paid for it — we do it because we believe so strongly in the topic. I've been involved in it for nearly ten years now (before I help start the SIG 7 years ago I did my own independent work on the topic). I've given talks the past 5 GDCs, SXSW, Develop, Montreal, Games for Health and many more industry conferences. Now that I'm finished with my Chapter for Chris Bateman's book I can get back to the SIG book on game accessibility! 🙂
Michelle Hinn, Chair
Game Accessibility Special Interest Group
International Game Developers Association
Entertainment Consumers Association