Accessibility and the games industry continues to be explored in many different ways - from small independent studios implementing a wide range of options through to AAA studios hiring internal team members who's sole focus is accessibility. We've made great strides in the past few years, but have further to go to continue to try to make games accessible to everyone - providing options and resources to let everyone play.
From Global Accessibility Awareness Day
, Accessibility Unlocked
runs a month long game jam called AccessJam
! Despite Accessibility Unlockeds efforts being focused on Australia & New Zealand, this jam is open to participants around the world.
This jam runs for a month - no crunch encouraged here! - for you to make a game, big or small, that explores accessibility in a way that suits you best. You can work as an individual or in a group - there are no rules for how this jam must be tackled, only things you are encouraged
to do. You can make a physical game, twine game, or even upload a recording of you telling your story. We encourage individuals to be as creative as you like and make this jam work for you.Individuals are encouraged to explore:
- Games about their experiences with disability - as broad or as abstract as they want or need it to be.
- A game that did not tell a story about disability, but where they implemented mechanics or options to make their game accessible to more players. It might be a simple Bitsy game about the outdoors where you ensure it's accessible to all players who are colourblind, through to implementing control remapping or tackling a feature you haven't tried before.
- Potential tools specifically for an accessibility feature - palette generators, subtitle creators, options managers for Unity - the list goes on!
The 2022 theme for AccessJam is Home.
We know that tackling accessibility in games can be daunting - especially as an abled developer! AccessJam is a chance for developers to hone their skills, learn more about how to implement accessibility, hear stories from disabled developers and players, and ask questions in a space that's safe and wants to see you learn and succeed.
We hope you enjoy AccessJam 2022 - we can't wait to see what you create this year!You can see last years entries here.
When does AccessJam run?
AccessJam runs for a month from Global Accessibility Awareness Day - the 19th/20th of May each year, through to 20th of June.
Wait - what's a game jam?
A game jam is a preset period of time in which creators come together to rapidly prototype and execute on a game, whether physical, digital or otherwise - often surrounding a theme of some kind. Popular game jams, such as Global Game Jam, run for 48 hours, others for months or days.
What's accessibility mean?
Accessibility usually refers to the design of products, devices, services, or environments so as to be usable by people with disabilities. Our focus is on disability, however we recognise that this is a complex issue with many layers. Mental, emotional, physical, financial, or other needs can be part of the conversation surrounding accessibility, and many disabilities are intertwined with these spaces.
But wait! I don't know where to start!
That's not uncommon! We highly recommend you consider a few of the following links, either before you come up with your concept or after you've got some idea of what you'd like to make.
Do I need a team to be involved in AccessJam?
Not at all! We welcome participants whether individual or team.
I'm not a game developer. Can I still get involved?
Absolutely! We accept submissions of all kinds - even if you just want to write down how your experience with disability or understanding of it has affected you and upload a text file. As much as this is a 'game jam', the ultimate goal is to explore accessibility and it's affect on individuals. We do encourage you to try using a new tool though - Bitsy, Ren'py and Twine are three highly accessible game engines to experiment with.
I don't have a disability! Can I participate?
You don't have to have a disability to be involved with this jam, nor does your game necessarily need to be about accessibility. Many of us with disabilities live and breathe these experiences, so the more awareness you have of the challenges we encounter are valuable to making us feel supported and seen. If you are an abled developer, you may make any game of your choice, but for the purpose of this jam we would want you to attempt to add accessible features or options.
Does my game need to be finished to be submitted?
No - but we do ask you explain to what extent your game or materials are completed in the description of your game, so audiences know what to expect.
Where will my game be featured?
We may showcase individual games on our social media or in our mailing list to celebrate the great work you've done! All credit will be given to you and we will link to any social media profiles provided on your jam submission. If you do not wish for your game to be featured, please state so in your games description when uploading.
Are there any rules I need to consider when creating my materials for the jam?
Please ensure your content abides by our community guidelines, as below - otherwise your content will be removed from the jam.
We expect that all members that engage with our community will treat one another with respect, kindness, and understanding. We recognise that there are barriers to communication for many disabled individuals, but we are dedicated to providing a harassment-free experience for everyone regardless of gender, age, sexual orientation, physical appearance, body size, race, disability, neurotypicality, or religion. This applies to conduct within any online communities, as well as at any potential events.
Sexual language or imagery is not appropriate for this jam, and anyone who violates any of these aforementioned rules will be removed from the community and the individuals.
We ask that all submissions include a content warning for any potentially triggering content or gameplay.
I have a question that isn't listed here!
I'm press and we want to talk!
No problem - email firstname.lastname@example.org
or DM us on twitter @accessunlockanz
and we'll do our best to assist you.