Blind Mario, Podcasts, and Wireless VR

Hello again. I know it’s been a while again, but things have been quite busy the past couple of months. During this year’s E3, I covered things a bit different than previous years. Rather than recording video summaries after each conference or event, I decided to do live Mixer streams for each major E3 2019 conference this year, and I think things went quite well. You can find all my E3 coverage on my YouTube channel under the E3 2019 playlist.

I have also branched out into regular podcasting. In addition to a few other guest appearances on Blind Bargains, and a new podcast by Brandon Cole, I was invited to be a co-host on the A4G Podcast starting in early June. Riley Rose Frazy and I are now hosting the Accessibility for Gamers (A4G Podcast), every Sunday. In each episode, we cover a different game topic or two, talk game accessibility, and what we’ve been playing. Riley has also featured a few guests on A4G from the game accessibility and development community.

Starting in May, I also started attending our city’s local IGDA game developers meeting. I’m not an official member yet, but have attended several meetings since may, including a smaller group meeting dedicated specifically to VR. These meetings are fun, interesting, and a great way to meet people. I’m also hoping to introduce more developers to game accessibility, and may even speak at a later meeting. Stay tuned.

Finally, I’ve also recently started another fun and interesting project. Mario Maker 2 recently came out on Switch, and there are a group of us who are trying to make levels that can be played by someone who is totally blind. I got inspiration from someone on Twitterr who posted a couple of level codes for such levels. I played them, and and started having ideas myself. We have been communicating now, and are trying to develop a consistent audio scheme, so a blind player can try any of our levels, and not have to keep learning new audio cues. We have also resurrected the #BlindMario hashttag on twitter, and encourage others to join us in using Mario Maker 2’s creation tools and sounds to create some truly unique and accessible levels.

I even reached out to Patrick Klepek, of Mario Maker 1 fame. He regularly does Mario Maker Mornings, and plays people’s levels. He was also part of the huge competition between himself and Dan Rykert from Giant Bomb, and those were some fun videos to watch. He may be interested in trying some of our #BlindMario levels on stream, which may get the accessible Mario Maker levels trend going.

If you want to try these levels for yourselves, the Course ID’s are below. Be sure to play them blindfolded. There are audio cues that indicate jumping straight up, jumping forward, running, sliding, pipes, and other gameplay, that we are working on solidifying. Enjoy.

My First #BlindMario level: KXK-6DG-DPG

And these 2 levels are what inspired me to creat my own levels. I started with his audio cues:

F2c-K63-L0H

M76-0H8-BLG

That’s it for now.

GAConf 2019

This past weekend was the third annual Game Accessibility Conference (GAConf as it’s more commonly called) in San Francisco. Since its first year, I loved the idea of this conference, and always thought about attending. This year though, I actually made the trip. Not only did I attend the conference, but I was also invited to be a presenter as part of a low vision panel.

The panel I participated in was called “Gamers First, Blind Second” and featured three low vision gamers, including myself. We talked about what we found helpful, frustrating, and everything in between, for low vision game accessibility. Each of us had at least tried VR as well, so we did talk some about virtual reality accessibility. The panel ended with a surprising but fun question, that may have paid off. We were asked, if there were any game developer in the audience you’d love to talk to, who would it be. My answer was id Software/Bethesda, as I love most of their games, and DOOM is probably my favorite game of all time.

The rest of the conference was also excellent. I’m glad we are past the stage where we need to define game accessibility, and why it’s important. Each session was able to go deeper into a specific aspect of game accessibility or recent product/game. The Forza and Adaptive Controller sessions were quite interesting, but my favorite surprise was the session on Collapsus, an upcoming indie game that will include over 40 accessibility features. His story behind the game and its growing level of accessibility was fascinating, and I can’t wait to play the game when it comes out later this year.

One of the best things about the day though had to be meeting so many awesome people. Both during the conference, and after it during the Microsoft reception, I met so many a great people, especially after our low vision panel. I was able to exchange business cards and have conversations with many game developers, students, and others in the games industry. Remember that last question of our session? Well, it turns out I did get to briefly speak with someone and exchange business cards with someone at id Software. There are just too many people to mention and thank here, because I know I’ll end up forgetting someone. It was a lot of fun though, and I look forward to working with everyone in the future.

One of my goals for attending GAConf was to increase my visibility in the game accessibility field, and hopefully make some industry connections. I am very interested in doing technology and gaming accessibility consulting, testing, and beta testing. It would be even better if I could, even part time, turn this into a paid career.

This is just a brief overview of my day at GAConf. If you want to hear more, check out my video on GAConf 2019. And thanks to everyone who helped make this event possible. I had a blast, and look forward to see where game accessibility goes from here.

One Week and Counting

The Game Accessibility Conference (GAConf) is just over one week away. I’ll be heading out a week from tomorrow to present at this year’s GAConf as part of a panel on game accessibility for blind and low vision users. I’m really looking forward to the presentation, but I’m more excited about meeting everyone else at the conference. I’ll get to catch up with a few friends I’ve gotten to know over the past several years, and also meet some of them in person for the first time. I’m most excited though to network with developers. It will be great to get my name out there more, as an accessibility advocate. I’ll be happy to answer any questions developers have, and to connect and consult with them in the future. I’m really hoping to meet someone from Oculus, as I’d love to talk overall VR interface accessibility, especially for their upcoming stand-alone headsets.

There’s a great line-up of sessions this year, and I’m looking forward to seeing all of them live. The Microsoft reception Monday evening is where everyone will really get to socialize though. I even have 500 IllegallySighted business cards ready for the occasion. I’ll definitely be posting an update video on the event when I get back from GAConf, probably that Wednesday’s video. Who knows what other cool news I may be able to report. I don’t know if I’ll get any live video of the event, but I may try for a couple of short interviews, and maybe a hands-on look at the Microsoft Adaptive Controller.

Stay tuned. It’s going to be a fun few days. If only I were also attending CSUN and GDC too…

Better Late Than Never?

Yeah, I know it’s been a while since the first, and last update… At least I’m back before a whole year past.

It’s been a busy, but exciting year since starting the website though. The YouTube channel is still going strong, and that isn’t about to change. I’ve even been trying a few new types of videos. Last summer, I also started this game streaming thing, and now have a Mixer stream. This too has gone surprisingly well, and I like how Windows 10 makes it easy to start a stream without installing or buying extra software. I’ve also been having some really interesting conversations via Twitter and as a guest on several podcasts episodes. Check out the Projects page for more updated links and information on all that. And it looks like there will be even more podcast appearances to come.

I’m also really excited about an upcoming trip this March. I have been invited, and have accepted, to be a panel member at this year’s Game Accessibility Conference in San Francisco. I will be speaking in a session on video game and VR accessibility for low vision and blind users. I’ve wanted to attend GAConf since its first year, and I’m finally going to make it this year. I think presenting as part of this panel will be fun, but I’m also excited to make some connections with others in the game accessibility field, and game developers themselves. If I get really lucky, maybe I’ll find a contact at Oculus to start having a serious conversation about implementing VR accessibility to games, apps, and the Oculus experience overall.

There are lots of other things going on too, like beta testing apps and games, testing Windows and XBOX stuff as part of the Microsoft Low Vision group, and of course my day job.

That’s about it for this post, and I’ll try to update this section way more often in the future.

Hello World

Hello.  This is my first post to the IllegallySighted blog.  I am currently just experimenting with the creation tools Squarespace has to offer, including a blog section.  Their web creation interface is highly visual, and I'm not sure I'd want to try using it with a screen reader, but I think I'm starting to get the hang of how things work.  

In the future, I don't know how often I will update the blog, but there are times where I find myself wanting to write something rather than doing a video.  Keep checking back, and follow me on Twitter to keep up with any new posts.  

I'm still working on the overall site design, and things will probably stay pretty simple.  I basically took a fairly straight forward template and modified it like craxy, mainly switching things around to a dark theme.  I went with a kind of Steam gray background look, so hopefully everything will appear clearly.  

Anyway, welcome to another IllegallySighted experiment.  I had to get the domain while it was still available, and wanted to do something with it.  Enjoy.