Accessible Gaming Tools

Principal Investigator: 
Maribeth Gandy Coleman, Ph.D.
Team: 
Rob Solomon, M.S.; Laura Levy, M.S.
Partners: 
Gains Through Gaming Lab, North Carolina State University

In this project we set out to understand how games can be used to help people with long-term disabilities as they age. These games could provide useful training or rehabilitation opportunities that are also fun and social.  Games can provide valuable training, but can also be very difficult for older adults and people with disabilities to play due to sensory and mobility limitations. 

As a starting point, we focused on a cognitive training game for older adults that we developed in prior research, known as Food For Thought. We sought to make this cognitive traning game accessible for people with sensory limitations. Throughout our research, we found that many current training games, including Food For Thought, are often inaccessible to people with disabilities because the game designers do not have any training or tools that could help them make the games usable and fun for a wider audience. Moreover, it has became increasingly challenging to prove effectiveness of cogntitive training games in the research community. To this end, we decided to shift focus to an area we can have the most impact on people aging with disabilities by developing tools to support accessible gaming.

We created open source software that lets game developers experience what a game will look like to a person with vision impairment, how it feels to try to use a game controller with a tremor, and how hard a game may be for someone who has age-related cognitive decline. We also have trained hundreds of students who are future game designers and user experience experts to learn how to recognize the flaws in their game interfaces and how to use different visual designs and sounds to make their games playable by a larger population of people. 

Select Publications: 

Levy, L. M., & Gandy, M. (2019). Teaching video game design accessibility: toward effective pedagogic interventions in accessible design. Paper to be presented at the 21st International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, Orlando, Florida.

Levy, L. M., Lambeth, A., Solomon, R., Gandy, M. (2018). Method in the Madness: The design of games as valid and reliable scientific tools. Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games, Article 9. 10.1145/3235765.3235793

Levy, L., Solomon, R., Johnson, J., Wilson, J., Lambeth, A., Gandy, M., Moore, J., Way, J., & Liu, R. (2016). Grouches, extraverts, and jellyfish: Assessment validity and game mechanics in a gamified assessment. Proceedings of the 1st international joint conference of the Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA) and the Foundations of Digital Games (FDG) conference. Available online from: Research Gate

Gomez-Gurley, K., McLaughlin, A. C., Gandy Coleman, M., & Allaire, J. C. (2015). Accessibility in serious games for adults aging with disability. In J, Zhou & G, Salvendy (Eds.), Human Aspects of IT for the Aged Population. Design for Aging (pp. 61-71). Springer International Publishing. 10.1007/978-3-319-20913-5_6

Levy, L., Solomon, R., Moore, J., Way, J., Liu, R., & Gandy, M. (2015). Actions speak louder than words: An exploration of game play behavior and results from traditional assessments of individual differences. In 2015 Proceedings of Foundations of Digital Games. Available on Semantic Scholar