The AbleGamers logo (a joystick with two buttons) on a backdrop of the sea
Accessibility Spotlight

Accessibility Spotlight: AbleGamers

Arman Nobari
Arman Nobari

Welcome back to Good Trouble’s Accessibility Spotlight series, where we take a look at the passionate efforts of development studios to make gaming more viable for the millions of players with disabilities across the globe. Each article will focus on a different piece of hardware, software, or design-discipline that has made an impact in accessible game development.

Readers may recall that our PAX Wrap-Up Blog featured a mention of the AbleGamers x Voodoo Ranger patio. A quiet, breezy oasis away from the dense chaos of the convention show floor, this space combined Good Trouble’s two favorite things: accessible gaming… and beer. We haven’t found a way to justify writing a blog post about beer quite yet so this week we thought we’d spend a little more time giving a proper shoutout to all the good that AbleGamers does for the gaming medium.

A photo of a child in a power-chair reacting positively to a video game being played by a man using an assistive controller. Image via AbleGamer's official site.

Founded in 2004, AbleGamers is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving accessibility in the gaming space. Through their research, development, and standardization of industry language and techniques, AbleGamers has become the top authoritative voice in helping people with disabilities play their favorite video games. Through one-on-one player interface and industry-leading developer consultancy courses, AbleGamers tackles the gargantuan task of making gaming more accessible from both the creator and customer end of the game development timeline.

Fueled by grants, fundraising and sponsorships, AbleGamers’ works with individual players with limited ability to construct one-of-a-kind controllers and interfaces that help them better connect with the games they love. The AbleGamers Impact Page features dozens of stories where the organization was able to provide tailor-made hardware requested by their clients, providing handmade controllers that could be anything from a simple 3D-printed attachment for an existing PlayStation controller all the way up to a one-of-a-kind control-deck specially built for one player’s unique needs.

But as readers of the Good Trouble blog already know, thoughtful accessibility considerations are not dictated at the player-to-console relationship. It’s up to developers to create games with accessible game design in mind, ensuring that the best experience can be had by as many players as possible. AbleGamers has buckets and buckets of resources to help developers looking to expand their accessibility efforts. From free design patterns and research breakdowns to specialized courses and one-on-one consultancy, AbleGamers offers game devs terrific accessibility assistance every step of the way. And the impact of this assistance has been felt across the industry- AbleGamers has worked with hard hitters like Blizzard, PlayStation, and even provided a hand in the development of the revolutionary Xbox Adaptive Controller.

A photo of a young man in a power chair playing a racing game using an assistive controller. Image via AbleGamer's official site.

The AbleGamers organization, their efforts, and the lovely people that work tirelessly to make it all happen are a bright spot in the culture of video games. We here at Good Trouble are inspired by the achievements and impact of the organization and will continue to follow their teachings as we build our accessible RTS.

You can find out more about AbleGamers on their official website.