Yesterday we happened upon AbleGamers, a website devoted to assisting and building community among gamers with disabilities.
Among other services, AbleGamers provides reviews of games and peripherals with an eye toward how effectively they can be utilized by physically challenged gamers. The site was founded by Mark Barlet, who explained his motivation to writer Scott Thompson:
My dearest friend in the world and I use[d] to use games as a way to bridge the distance between us as we grew up and started our own families. The game of the day was Everquest, and the hunt was on Friday nights. Well, one day she and her hubby did not log on. I waited. After about 15 minutes, I gave her a call.
She was crying "Mark, I can’t feel my hand, it is not working" and she handed the phone to her husband. 4 months prior to that night, she was told she has Multiple Sclerosis… So I said to myself that there had to be a site about disabled people and gaming… there was none. So I started one. I am disabled myself, and while my disability does not really interfere with my gaming, I could relate.
Barlet points out that things like remappable key bindings, adjustable controller sensitivity and closed captioning for voiceovers can make an otherwise inaccessible game playable to disabled individuals. Why, he wonders, are such features not standard on games?
For a good example of what AbleGames is all about, check out the site’s coverage of Microsoft’s Project Natal and how it will impact disabled gamers.