This article by Cairns et al investigates the different values that players have regarding games, and through it the researchers found out about the importance of accessibility for players with disabilities. Accessibility is an important part for the future of video gaming, and this has been a focus for companies in recent times. One of the examples of accessibility options is the XBOX Adaptive controller; specially designed for accessibility for players with disabilities. The background section of this study focused on investigating the meaning of values and argued about what could be seen as being important to gamers. The article begins with exploring what the aforementioned values are and providing justification for why this is an important topic through concepts such as game developers having limited knowledge of how to create specific accessibility options.
Pictured; accessibility options with Tom Clancy’s The Division 2
The purpose of this study was to understand the value that people find in games. The scope of this study aimed broadly to find these values, as well as looking at what values players with disabilities look for. They achieved this by adapting previously done research that found a set of core values that players felt were important in gaming, as well as a variety of other dimensions within the topic, such as socializing, habit, performance, etc. The methodology for this study used an open survey with two, broad questions that were meant to elicit answers focused on values. The participants for this study were a mix of players with disabilities and non-disabled players. The players with disabilities were recruited from the AbleGamers Charity Player Panels, while the broader group of players were recruited from attendees at the PAX East 2018 games festival. The results of the surveys were analyzed using thematic analysis and themes were coded.
The research found a variety of persistent themes within the answers. Eight distinct themes were found; connecting, diverting, beneficial, art, fun, a way of life, universal, and enabling. Connecting referred to how players were able to meet new people and socialize in games. Diverting referred to how players were a way for them to relax, ‘diverting’ their problems for later. Beneficial refers to how players argued that games could be used as a way to learn. Art referred to how players believed that games were an artform and enjoyed them for this. Fun, ‘a way of life’ and universal were not widely represented but were heavily expressed by a few participants. Enabling was a distinct theme only mostly seen from disabled players; the players recruited from the PAX East game festival only mentioned enabling as a value in the context of a friend of theirs who was a player with disability.
The discussion focuses on exploring the themes that they found and exploring the differences between themes prevalent for disabled and non-disabled gamers. They found that some of the themes, such as enabling were extremely important for disabled gamers as the theme revolved around how games were a way for them to do things, they are unable to do in real life due to their conditions and functions as a way to help them cope with their lives by removing their own limits. In their discussion, the authors also discuss how two new themes arose that were not identified in previous research; the beneficial and art. They found that players were able to appreciate and understand the potential importance of video games as a way to educate, as well as a way to express art.
Picture retrieved from Wikimedia Commons at https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/12/Xbox_Adaptive_Controller_V%26A.JPG
Picture from Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 taken by author.
Cairns, P., Power, C., Barlet, M., Haynes, G., Kaufman, C., & Beeston, J. (2021). Enabled Players: The Value of Accessible Digital Games. Games and Culture, 16(2), 262–282. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1555412019893877