Towards Generalized Accessibility of Video Games for the Visually Impaired
Computer Science and Engineering
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Over the last three decades, video games have evolved from an obscure pastime to a force of change that is transforming the way people perceive, learn about, and interact with the world around them. Video games are not only a popular form of entertainment, but are increasingly being used for other purposes, such as education and health, as well. Despite this increased interest, a significant number of people encounter barriers when playing games, due to a disability.This dissertation, and our identification of a generalized game interaction model, helps provide an understanding of how video games can be designed and modified to improve their accessibility features. An estimated 11% of U.S. population are discovered to play video games with sub-optimal gaming experience because of a disability. A large number of existing, accessible games have been studied and analyzed to provide insights and understanding as to the importance of encouraging universal access in this field. Though our survey work covered several types of disabilities, the bulk of this dissertation focuses on improving accessibility for the visually impaired. Specific design strategies are illustrated and proven by the development and evaluation of actual blind-accessible games.Case studies are presented for each of the three games we developed during the research period. We developed the first mainstream game using haptic feedback. The first screen-reader-accessible virtual world interface is built to explore more strategies for developing blind-accessible games. A third game, developed for sighted users, demonstrates that data collected during gameplay can be used for other purposes including improving accessibility in another game (Second Life). Furthermore, user studies were conducted that focus on the enjoyment, educational, and social interaction aspects of these games while evaluating their ease of access.