(applause) – Good morning everybody As I’ve said I’m Bryce Johnson, and I am a designer on the Xbox design team, and I’m also design lead on the Gaming For Everyone team, which is a team that we have at Xbox devoted to diversity and inclusion I’ve spent the last few years devoted to intentionally including gamers with disabilities into the products that we make And today I’m gonna go over– I’m gonna fly over some principles of Microsoft inclusive design, and then I’m gonna dive into some specifics about how to make certain games better accessible But first I’m gonna start with a story, and I’m gonna have to read this one, it’s a little bit long Many of us are enamored with the ides of Todd Rose from his book The End of Average This is one of the stories from the book In the 1940s, the US Air Force had a major problem It’s pilots could not keep control of their planes At it’s worst point, 17 pilots crashed in a single day The military blamed the men citing pilot error as the most common reason in the crash reports which seemed reasonable since the planes themselves seldom malfunctioned The pilots didn’t understand it either though The only thing they knew for sure, it wasn’t their piloting skills that was the cause of the problem If it wasn’t a human or mechanical error, what was it? The first cockpit was designed by engineers, and they measured the physical dimensions of hundreds of male pilots And they used this data to standardize the dimension of the cockpit, the size and shape of the seat, the distance to the pedals and the stick, and the height of the windshield and even the shape of the flight helmets were all built to conform to the average dimensions of a pilot So the military hired a scientist to measure 4,000 pilots And he calculated the average physical dimensions believed to be the most relevant to design, including height, chest, sleeve length, and then these formed the dimension of the average pilot And then next that scientist compared all of the pilots to this average And the consensus among the Air Force researches was that most of these pilots would fall within this average range And they were stunned when they tabulated how many fit into this average range Zero No pilots fit within this average range There is no such thing as an average pilot If you’ve designed a cockpit for the average pilot, you’ve literally designed this to fit no one So we take a lot of inspiration from that story And across Microsoft we’re embracing inclusive design to fulfill our mission of empowering every person in every organization on the planet to achieve more And that’s a tall order, and we take it very seriously Every person, we take that extremely seriously So we approach inclusive design at Microsoft starting from these three principles Recognize exclusion Exclusion happens when we solve problems using our own biases As Microsoft designers, we seek out those exclusions and use them as opportunities to create new ideas and inclusive designs Learn from diversity Human beings are the real experts in adapting to diversity Inclusive design puts people at the start from the very beginning and those fresh diverse perspectives are the key to true insight Solve for one, extent to many Everyone has abilities and limits to those abilities Designing for people with permanent disabilities actually results in designs that will benefit people universally Constraints are a beautiful thing So all of these principles are in place to remind us of an old axiom, you are not the user But when I talk with other designers across Microsoft, it’s fairly tricky because I think a lot of us in this room are the user And I know all my coworkers, like we all work on the Xbox like all week long, and then we go home and we play it all night long So I can’t really go to my coworkers and tell them that you’re not the user My coworkers and my colleagues are our whales They are our customers But we need to recognize our own biases to understand that we’re not the only customer So one of the tools that we use in solve for one extend to many is the persona spectrum So I said before you know we intentionally design for someone with a permanent condition, like one arm, and then we see benefit with people who might have a temporary condition like an arm injury And then we think about situational benefits Like holding a baby Or if you’re Miyamoto, eating a hamburger So when we take this into account we see a lot more reach,

and this is why it’s important for us to solve for those permanent conditions Because it’s like a reverse funnel, right? It goes out So when we discuss making things accessible, a lot of the times you’ll hear us talk about like removing barriers And friction can be a barrier Friction slows things down and makes us work harder, and UI design friction is the opposite of effortless, it is the opposite of intuitive And when we work on the Xbox One OS we’re very focused on removing friction I have this little Minecraft guy here Think of him as a mime, he’s like in a glass box, for barrier. (laughs) But friction can also be good Here are some photos by Phil Toledano, and you may have come across these as I did, in Jane McGonigal’s TED Talk gaming can make a better world And as she says in her talk, if you’re not a gamer you might miss some of the nuance in these photos You probably see a sense of urgency, a little bit of fear, but intense concentration, and a deep deep focus on tackling a really difficult problem These are the faces of people who against all odds are on a verge of an epic win Challenge is why we play games Games are the combination of assonance and dissonance, conflict and resolution They are cycles of tension and release Great games don’t remove friction, they have the best possible friction in just the right places So I ask people to strive for challenge and inclusion I want barriers to be ergonomic I want them to adapt, and I’m asking for the friction that fits Here’s another sign we have on campus And this is sort of the last bit when we think about inclusive design, is that when we think about inclusive design at Microsoft, we’re not trying to design for all of us We aspire to design for each of us And that’s a subtle difference, but the difference is is that digital experiences don’t need to be fixed They don’t They can be fluid and they can be mold and bend and be custom fit to every user So I’m not suggesting that games need to be always universally accessible, except maybe Minecraft, I will totally suggest it to Minecraft that they need to be universally accessible I hope that we can create a variety of experiences that like suit a lot of people’s tastes and every ability So I probably told you just enough about Microsoft inclusive design that you may be intrigued, and possibly confused But if you want to find out more, I encourage you to check out the website or come talk to me, but now I’m gonna drill into some things that are specific People always ask me, “What should I do to make my game accessible?” And I give them the most cliched designer answer ever, “It depends.” So who in here by show of hands or whatever, who likes tangible guidance, anyone? Some people like tangible guidance, wow But not a lot of people like tangible guidance Who hates being told what to design, or how to design? Yeah, okay Did any of you like do both? Because that’s like my whole entire world, is like people want tangible guidance, but they hate me telling them what to do Which is fine, I get it, I totally understand that So this advice I’m going to give is my two cents, but I stand by it But I also encourage everybody to go look at Includification by Able Gamers and the Game Accessibility Guidelines These are great resources and they have a lot of information in there So we’re going to go through these five genres and look at some impactful ways to make them more accessible So gonna start off slow, gonna start off easy This what Toronto was like when I was a kid and I lived here We had fall, you guys don’t have fall anymore. (laughs) In more ways than ever, games and software are converging I mostly work on software Games inherit the expectations that people have of what an accessible software experience is as they get more like software And there are many best practices for software accessibility and it’s important to follow them Things like structured headings, landmarks, contrast ratios for text, well-formed lists, and proper grouping of elements You probably don’t need to reinvent the wheel here, but it doesn’t mean that you should sterilize your interfaces either I mean gamers with disabilities like personality too

So blind people use– Hi Steve. (laughs) Blind people use a technology called screen readers It’s an assistive technology, and it reads the screen So what I’m gonna show you here is a mock up of how Solitaire could be optimized for screen reader users Oops, gonna go back – [Screen Reader] Tableau column one, six of clubs One of one, right arrow Tableau column two, four of spades, one of two Right arrow Tableau column three, queen of spades, one of three – Notice how I’m using the keyboard and not the mouse? – [Screen Reader] Right arrow Tableau column four, seven of spades, one of four Right arrow, tableau column five, ace of spades, one of five Space, ace of spades selected Up arrow, empty, foundation two of four Left arrow, empty, foundation one of four Enter, ace of spaces, foundation one of four Left arrow, deck Space, four of diamonds in the waste pile Enter, jack of diamonds in the waste pile Right arrow, waste pile, jack of diamonds Space, jack of diamonds selected, down arrow, right arrow Tableau column three, queen of spades One of three, enter Tableau column three, jack of diamonds, one of four – So when you’re blind, you have to use landmarks and you have to– There’s no wayfinding, right? Like you have to basically tell people what the structure of things are so they can get a mental model of what the interface is And they use their memory a lot to basically remember where things are I think that this video is an okay start This is what I show the Solitaire team But there’s definitely a lot of opportunities to go above and beyond I think that if we use distinctive sound design that enhances the oral experience for everyone, we could really make some benefits here One of the things that I think about is that when a card flips over, could the sound denote how many cards are left in the pile to give you that sort of sonic affordance of what you have left in the pile because you can’t see it? So now I’m gonna show you another video, which was savagely-edit for time And this is me playing Solitaire using Windows Speech Recognition You shouldn’t assume that people who play card games are going to use either touch or a mouse In the previous video I used keyboard to play Solitaire So it’s important to not make that kind of assumption And even though I’m gonna use Windows Speech Recognition, I’ll be using my voice to basically simulate a pointer, but that’s how that kind of works Mouse grid Five Mark Five Six Click Mouse grid Five three mark Four two click It’s savagely edited because it takes so long for the card to go across the screen Mouse grid One click Mouse grid One six double click Mouse grid One click Mouse grid, one six double click So there’s a couple accelerators that I showed there The double click accelerator So I double click and basically puts the card in the right spot It’s really important to add those in You know I know that like this metaphor of dragging cards around is something that I think we all kind of enjoy and like, but it can sometimes be really overly taxing So I would encourage people to put in those like accelerators that give people a chance to like basically do the right thing more quickly So this is a mock up of Solitaire in the large print theme, but I’ve modified it in a sense And what I’ve done is I’ve taken a lot of inspiration from card decks for the elderly So the surface that the cards are on has been darkened from the norm so that the cards can pop out more And then the colors that are used for suit further distinguish the suit And you’ll often here guidance accessibility guidance to not use color as a differentiator, but the thing is is you shouldn’t use color as the only differentiator

You can use color. (laughs) Just make sure it’s not the only differentiator In this case it actually helps people And the highlight focus, is it still pulsing there? Is a little bit stronger than it is normally, so I would encourage people to think about things like movement as a way to increase the perceivability of a UI So card games Alex said the other night, card games are UI That’s totally true There are many best practices for software accessibility You should follow them Support screen readers, and the blind need to be able to play without a mouse on PC Make sure that you have shortcuts and accelerators for card movements Sometimes click and drag is not possible or is overly taxing And use multiple visual treatments, color, shape, weight, movement, clearly and distinctly to make your elements more perceivable So now we’re gonna move into fighting games This is my friend Sightless Combat And he is a pretty amazing Killer Instinct player He is also totally blind He can play because the sound designers of Killer Instinct wanted a clean mix where character had distinctive, unique sounds that convey giving, receiving and blocking damage There are also sounds in the game that are optional for the HUD elements, so that he understands the UI So he’s showing Melody here, he’s trying to teach Melody here how to hear the sounds I’ve known him for years, I still can’t hear the sounds I even know the sound designer, I don’t get it. (laughs) So he’s playing against someone in this video, he is totally blind Yeah, he’s amazing So Zach Quarles, he’s the sound designer for Killer Instinct goes into a huge amount of detail on the oral design of Killer Instinct, and you can find out more in this Gamasutra article that he recently published The one miss that Zach points out that’s for all the great sound design that’s in Killer Instinct, the game menus are not voiced out, and that is a huge barrier When Sightless plays Killer Instinct, he memorizes the menus Like he basically has someone sit there and tell him what the menus are and he memorizes them, and then he counts clicks So he knows the menus of Killer Instinct down to the very bottom, like just knows them off by heart So this is Wheels Wheels is a gamer with mobility disabilities who has qualified for two Killer Instinct World Cups He has a bright competitive fighting game career ahead of him And I asked him what features he wanted in Killer Instinct, and what he told me is that in-game controller remapping is good, but he wishes that he could treat the right stick as a dpad and then map buttons to it That’s really frickin’ cool Like what is button mashing when there’s no buttons? Like how do you thumb stick mash, you know? And it’s such a really interesting idea that I think goes beyond what he needs that could make this game so much different and better for everybody And this isn’t the first time I’ve heard this idea, but it’s really nice to have it reinforced by multiple people So for fighting games, I’m gonna ask you to follow Zach’s advice And consider narrating your menus We have published an API at Xbox about how you can use the speech synthesis API to voice out your menus of your game We still need to be better about the documentation of that, but we’re working on it And in your game, offer a plethora of controller remapping options You can’t offer too many. (laughs) Okay next up, shooters, Gears of War There is going to be blood. (laughs) (guns firing) (chainsaw revving) – [Woman] Yes, that was satisfying! So Sightless plays more than Killer Instinct He also played through the Gears of War 4 campaign, and he did this through co-op, and he found people to help him go through this campaign using Looking for Group Played through the whole campaign, and he needed someone to help him get through the parts that weren’t available to him And this is what he had to say about it “One advantage to co-op is the “simple sharing of the experience “When I beat the Gears 4 campaign, “the first thing that happened “was myself and my partner congratulated each other “and discussed the plot details that I could not pick up “due to the lack of explanation or “in-game feedback to indicate what was happening.”

So co-op is this super powerful enabler And I think we’re just really starting to realize what we can do in co-op experiences to bring people into gaming that might not have thought gaming was for them We’re just kind of early in this Your game franchises exist and extend beyond the game Another thing that we found with Gears, another mistake that I guess we made, was that the website was inaccessible, and it’s a pretty big deal When you’re telling people to go to this website to collect loot and trade cards and do stuff like that, the community has little patience for your website being inaccessible, right? I mean web accessibility is a pretty mature field There’s lots of information on it, and when we unintentionally exclude people with disabilities from our website, it just leaves a sour taste in a lot of our mouths So cover based shooters I’m not gonna steal anyone’s thunder But the first thing that you should do if you’re making a cover based shooter is study the work that Alex Amelia and Josh did with Uncharted 4 It’s wonderful Next you should explore extending co-op options Coplay can enable people who might not be able to play your title on their own And then make sure your websites are accessible, period, but especially if they extend your game I love RTS games, but honestly I had a really hard time coming up with priorities for making them accessible So I asked some people in the community, and I got a pretty decent list A lot of good stuff in there I got advice about managing cognitive load, perceivability and readability of the HUD elements Play speed and skills levels, lots of good ideas So what I will say for real-time strategy is adjustable speeds is a huge deal You should absolutely do it in single player, and I think there’s a ton of opportunity for us to do it in multiplayer And I know that that would require some extra sort of special love when it comes to match making, but on the platform side at Xbox, this is what we intended things like clubs and Looking for Group to be about When we built those features, we wanted people to be able to like say, I’m looking for someone who can play like this And just like Sightless used LFG to like find people to play Gears with him, we’re hoping that people will do that more So use clear simple controls Imagine someone playing your RTS with just a mouse Include a wide range of difficulty modes And make those extend beyond what you think is reasonable I’m sure that you have a good idea of what easy normal hard is Go further Happy Forza 7 launch! All my examples are from Forza 6 (audience laughs) In this video I have a split view, and I’m showing two different types of weather, and I’m doing this to show you the readability of the text and how it can be tied to the environment that it’s in As this video progresses, I’m gonna start to stack vision limitations on top of it, and so you can see what happens So at first I’m gonna start with reduced contrast Probably might not have even noticed that All of us will lose the ability to perceive contrast as we get older It happens to everyone So you can kind of see how one side is a little bit easier to read that the other Just rain versus sun So now I’ve made it a little blurry, I’ve decreased the visual acuity, not by a lot I mean honestly if I was sitting up top and wasn’t wearing my glasses, this is what it would look like to me I’m not wearing my glasses now, but, if I wasn’t wearing my glasses So you can see that it’s really very difficult to read a lot of these elements on the screen now So now I’ve added some cataracts Cataracts is really interesting We all talk about how important it is to make our games accessible for people who are colorblind And it is, please do There are twice as many Americans that have cataracts as there are who are colorblind Cataracts is again, it’s part of getting old

And it happens So I would encourage you to think about how you can make your text elements of your UI more perceivable So yesterday Scott said that great graphics are the price of entry to triple A gaming So here’s an unaltered screenshot from Forza 6 I know it’s kind of unfair that I’m gonna use it still, but I am, so What I’ve done is I’ve taken this screenshot and I’ve made some adjustments based off the feedback of a Forza fan who has low vision Low vision for those who don’t know is a visual acuity worse than 20-80 that cannot be corrected by glasses There are more than six people– For every blind person in the world, there are six people who are low vision So my friend asked me to tone down the visual elements that could be distracting while keeping emphasis on the ones that he needs to play the game, things like the lines in the road and the guide and the other cars It’s not that he doesn’t want the other graphics, he just needs like a better proportion of what he can see and what he needs to play the game So I also thickened the type and all the HUDs, and I put extra flags behind them to give them more of a solid background The other aspect that my friend really wanted to be high contrast, and it might be a little hard to see here, but the little map here has been made very high contrast There is no transparency to it at all, it is opaque, and it is something that he can use to find out where the other cars are So ideally all of these things should be user preference, and it’s a way that you know, ’cause not everyone is gonna want every one of these things But again I think it’s really important to remember that it’s not that people with low vision don’t want beautiful graphics, they just need a little bit extra to make sure that they can see the game and perceive it in the way that they can play it So I found that people with mobility limitations really love driving games And this is me actually playing Forza 6 with my feet I’ve got a custom controller here That Rockband pedal is like accelerate, it’s just full on or off, it’s not analog at all, it’s just on or off, ’cause it’s a Rockband pedal And I’m steering with my knees There’s two buttons that I’m steering with my knees When we put together driving games, it’s really important that we kind of enable this kind of casual-ish play, right? There’s a lot of people that just want to play driving games and if we have to sort of complex controller dexterity gymnastics to progress in a game, we’re gonna be excluding a lot of people from playing this So, driving games People want awesome graphical fidelity with options for tuning perceivability, primarily the HUD, track and driving guides Allow for simple driving controls and controller remapping Don’t force someone to get good to progress or they’ll get gone Ideally offer a variety of driving assist and sensitivity options as well So I’m gonna wrap up here, and what I want to basically tell people is above all else it’s very important to include the community in your game design There’s a saying in the disability community that’s nothing about us without us, so I really urge you all to like go out, engage the community, and find out what they need from your game, and I promise you that it’ll make innovative games that work better for everybody And that’s it, that’s me, thanks (applause) All the resources are there You can find me on Twitter, on Xbox Live – Good morning – Hey! – [Man] Thank you very much, that was very interesting I’m Lucas, I work at Ubisoft Toronto I’m curious about how you show the different options and modes in the game, and if you have any philosophies or tips for how to present it not just to players, but also to designers and programmers Like do we talk about making a low vision mode, or do we talk about making a high contrast mode? Or do we talk about having a slider for like, increased clarity or something like that? – Yeah I mean that’s a really good question, and I mean sadly the answer is yes to all of it

You know a lot of engineers and designers don’t want to be told exactly what to do, so I put together these examples to give people ideas and sort of help them sort of understand where it is The one thing I want to say about simulations though, I want to be really clear about simulations, and it’s something that’s really important to us in our practice We have a bunch of vision simulation goggles, and we have like dexterity simulation devices, all kinds of equipment out there to simulate various impairment conditions We don’t roleplay disability That is awful We use simulators to give people ideas, we don’t use them to validate decisions So yeah I mean the stuff that I made, it’s really just hacked together in like Photoshop and stuff like that It’s really not a big deal But it does give people a sense of how people can experience their game But again it’s not substitute for actually going and talking to someone and having someone sit there and tell you what it is With simulators I often like, I often tell people, engineers that I work with, they tend to really be into this– I have to really drill hard on this notion of like that it’s not for validation, because they’re like oh if I put these goggles on and it works fine for me, I’m good to go And I’m like, no that’s not it at all And I try to tell them this story where like, where I say like I could put on one of those pregnancy simulators you know, and kind of like understand what it’s like sort of to have a big belly But that has nothing to do with being pregnant It’s such a small sort of slice of what the experience is And that’s the same thing with our simulators Does that answer your question? – [Lucas] Yeah, in part I guess I’m curious whether you’ve found that players for whom these features are designed and for whom they’re not designed respond better if in the UI for example it says low vision mode or if it says high contrast mode, or if it’s just a slider Or you know how you present it in such a way that it’s not necessarily, this is explicitly accessibility or– – Yeah, the community and we are kind of in this spot where we don’t necessarily know the right answer So I’ll ask the community all the time I think about accessibility settings as personalization settings I personally don’t think there’s any difference But the community likes to have– There are certain aspects of people in the community that like to have their own section They say, “I want an accessibility section, “and I want those things in there to be familiar to me.” Which is completely understandable Like high contrast mode is something that a lot of people with low vision are gonna understand intrinsically what that is So it’s a tough balance Again I mean I think we’re all still working through this, and it depends on who you talk to But we do kind of constantly kind of work on that balance – [Lucas] Thank you – [Man] Actually quite a few here Thanks for the talk I had a quick question about your recommendations for competitive online games Because some of the accessibility options that one could think of could also be seen as an advantage to those who may not have a disability or vision or hearing impairment or whatever How would you recommend dealing with that? – Yeah, it’s funny, I get this question a lot, and I have a terrible answer because I’m super biased I don’t care about cheating, you know? If you’re asking me personally, if I’m going to enable someone to play this game or enable a small group of people to cheat– So this is totally my personal answer, this is not an Xbox answer. (laughs) Because this is me fighting like this notion of– I mean I’m always going to want to include people, and I’ve personally found, and while I know that cheating is a big problem, it’s a hard problem to really quantify And I think we have a lot of cultural and sort of inbed ideas about what cheating is And those things are hard for us as an industry to get around Okay so not an answer that I think you wanted, but I do know that like when FIFA put out two button mode, the community basically everywhere decided, the US of Disabled Gamers were like, this is amazing And then like they couldn’t play online with two button mode And if you ever watch the YouTube videos of like really hardcore FIFA players playing in two button mode,

they hate it, it’s not an advantage to them (laughs) It’s a disadvantage Like they need that fidelity So yeah, I know that’s not a good answer, but it is sort of where I’m standing in this place of like I’m for inclusion. (laughs) – [Man] Right, thank you – [Woman] Good morning So my question is looking at gaming moving forward to different platforms like AR and VR, have you found that any of the tips that you’ve shared today carry over to those new platforms? And what does it look like to build processes and tools to design for inclusivity in these new gaming experiences? – Yeah I mean I purposefully left out AR VR stuff ’cause I knew there were other talks on it And it’s very tricky, obviously very new, we’re all learning a bunch of things I can tell you that there’s some named Brian Van Buren who he does a lot of great work on VR accessibility, he’s done a lot of really interesting stuff And it’s just stuff like you know when people expected you to be so tall to be go reach an item, and if you’re sitting in a wheelchair, you can’t reach that item like, you’re stuck, right? So again I think there are things that we’re learning Contrast is gonna be still important There are certain vision things We had a bunch of interns this summer They all had low vision, they were all young women, they were just basically their first year of university And they came and talked to us and they put on the VR goggles and it was amazing how they played together to kind of get around the limitations of VR What they did was one of them would wear the goggles, and then the others would like go to the monitor which was being displayed, and they’d put their face like right up against it And so like one of them would act as the navigator for the person wearing the goggles And so again that’s why I’m so into this idea of coplay as a way to like basically make these games better, because I see people like using these things all the time to get around it I mean things that we do in UI to make things accessible for people with like low vision, like zooming interfaces and high contrast? It’s very possible that doing those things in AR or VR could make people sick So you know it’s very tricky, we’re still learning – [Woman] Thank you – [Man] Hello So regarding first encounters of games, especially on first experiences, you haven’t yet gotten to the options where you can pick these accessibility options Now how would you approach that challenge? Because a lot of times a lot of the cool information, a lot of new information is presented there But if a lot of that is not available to players who can’t you know perceive it properly, or perceive it the way the designer intended, that’s a challenge I think you answered some of it earlier by saying sometimes it’s about putting the options in places that are familiar to people, but I wonder how you deal with that? – So are you talking about the beginning of a game? – [Man] Yeah first encounters, specifically on very first experiences, before you even get to the options where you can make these accessibility choices – I mean I have to tell you like on the OS, we put those options at the very first place we can And I mean if you talk with the deaf community, they want closed captions turned on in cutscenes by default Like all these assistive technologies aren’t necessarily going to harm the experience for other people, so turning some of them on like by default is not a horrible idea But again I think like that’s up to everyone in how to work out what their intention is with the game and what they’re trying to convey But I mean I personally, I think you should put the options up front – [Man] Thank you Thanks, I think that’s everybody Thank you (applause)

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