Accessibility – The Game Changer We Should All Want

I was playing Blackout Duos with one of my friends the other day.  We were having a good time going through the map (even without finding any armor WHATSOEVER!!!! ARRRRRGH!!!).  As we were advancing towards the border of the first circle I said I could hear an enemy vehicle coming from the left side of our advance.  I expected him to say that he heard it as well.  Only, he didn’t hear it at all.

I learned at that moment that one of my gaming friends was deaf in his left ear and it didn’t make me think any less of him – but it did change our tactics for the rest of the match and from that point forward.  I didn’t really make a big deal about it, but I did suggest that I could take the left side of our tiny formation at that point.  He agreed that it would be a good idea and we moved on – it was that simple.

I haven’t been able to shake that experience over the last few days.  As a former teacher I had to take into account all sorts of learning disabilities and different general learning styles.  One of the biggest aspects of allowing all students the same opportunities to learn in a classroom is access above all other things (this also goes hand-in-hand with what those in education call full-inclusion).  If you went to public school during the late 1980’s and throughout the 1990’s you might remember a lot of classmates being pulled from class in order to get assistance with their schoolwork in any number of subjects.  They might have had dyslexia or some other issue that simply meant they needed extra help to stay with the class or at least accomplish the same requirements of others.  I never liked the idea of removing students from the classroom when I was a student and I certainly didn’t like it as a teacher.  While there are some aspects that might require occasional departures from the class, most students with disabilities want to be with their classmates.  This is the same case with gaming… except, there isn’t an opportunity for those with disabilities to seek access to games where they aren’t at what we could consider a competitive disadvantage.

That’s where our assumptions still get us in trouble.  The idea that someone needs special treatment in order to succeed in gaming is the complete opposite of what needs to happen.  How you treat your fellow gamer has nothing to do with their mental or physical capabilities.  You treat them like any other friend or family member.  The one aspect you might start demanding is for developers (both hardware and software) to consider making changes and modifications to controllers, sound mixing, and other aspects that move everyone closer to full-inclusion.

Microsoft has a great commercial that focuses on access being something that allows ALL gamers to play the same games and support each other.  

This video pulled at my heartstrings.  Pretty sure that was the idea.

The other reason every gamer should be demanding changes and modifications to games, hardware, and peripherals (controllers, etc.) is because it will not only open the games we love to play to those with disabilities, but it will continue to drive further innovation in ways we might not even consider.  We continue to see so many amazing changes in technology at a pace that is difficult to grasp – it’s only a matter of time before we will be able to play games with our friends that can’t grasp a controller in the first place.  Actually, nevermind… there are already people that are finding a way to wreck on Blackout without actually being able to hold the controller.

Don’t forget the value of opening your mind a little bit.  You might actually like what happens when you come to better understand the needs of others.  

Here are a couple websites for you to check out if you want to dive a bit deeper into helping fellow gamers.

Able Gamers –
People with disabilities wants the same thing that all gamers want, to have fun with their friends, and family. There are so many challenges that come with living with a disability, social isolation, is one of them. Video games are unique in that we ALL use them to excape our days, and join our friends, and total strangers in a quest to win. That is where AbleGamers comes in.https://ablegamers.org/

StackUp –
Founded in 2015, Stack Up brings both veterans and civilian supporters together through a shared love of video gaming through our primary programs: The StacksSupply CratesAir Assaults and the Stack Up Overwatch Program [StOP].https://stackup.org/

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Madden 18 – Hiding Behind A Bad Movie

Everything is falling into place as we prepare to enter August.  The Dallas Cowboys have another problem with a star player just as the season is getting ready to start and they might have to place all of their hopes and dreams on the back of their one year wonder at quarterback.  NFL Camps will start very soon, and with that excitement blowing in the soon to come autumn wind – we have another year of Madden NFL only a few weeks away.

The crazy part about this is that up until this point there hasn’t been any gameplay footage released by EA.  With the fans clamoring for some proof of life in that regard it is hard to have a lot of pity for them.  They should know what the game looks like by now.  EA is trying their best to market their version of NBA 2K’s My Player Mode with The Longshot.  I wish I could say that this was going to be some sort of huge jump in sports gaming – but it quite simply won’t be anything close to that. According to some of the tweets and interviews, this mode has been in development for around three years. To think they have been working on this for three years and we still don’t have functional Challenges, sideline detection, real-time injuries, and many other simple football gameplay needs… Longshot had better be a masterpiece with zero bugs.

The problems that Madden NFL has faced for over a decade involves more than not measuring up to 2K’s basketball story mode experience.  It is everything that 2K would have done if EA didn’t have the monopoly on NFL Football.  It’s hard for me to think about how great an NFL 2K18 would be and by how much it would most likely outsell Madden 18. Madden has made some strides in recent years, no doubt… but, compared to where either game could be had there been competition?  We would have seen gameplay footage by E3, if not sooner.

Madden continues to push the line that they are leading with their new Longshot Mode for marketing.  I find it interesting that this is their strategy.  This is mostly because I can see through their thin veil of BS.  They aren’t showing gameplay footage because, frankly… they don’t have to show anything and the game will still sell.  Madden hasn’t changed in any major way since Madden 10.  Now that we have come to the point where they don’t even have to market the game itself with any actual gameplay footage it does beg one to ask yourself as part of the Madden horde… why are any of you pre-ordering this game?

Madden 13’s Biggest Gameplay Problems

Chances are good that Urlacher will get injured when he crushes AP… why? Because Madden 13’s injuries are broken… or random at best.

Madden 13 has a lot of potential to be one of the best Madden games every made – if not the best.  However, there are still some things that are occurring that make for a rather annoying experience.  Here are a few –

CPU Play Calling – While this isn’t truly ‘gameplay’ it is something that you have to deal with every single moment of a single player game.  It seems as if the CPU Coaching Staff was programmed to mimic Pat Shurmur.  Why is it that on 3rd and long the CPU will almost always pick either a running play or a passing play with routes that are 3-5 yards short of what is needed for a first down?  The CPU play calling AI has always been bad in Madden, but this kills the experience when you are playing in a tight game and they seemingly throw in the towel.

The CPU Running Game Doesn’t Exist – No matter what you do in Connected Careers, it is almost impossible to face the CPU without dominating their runningbacks.  This is an issue that involves bad blocking and seemingly immobile runningbacks.  It is a constant struggle to feel like you have having a legitimate experience when you end up crushing the opposition every time they try to run the ball.

Human Pass Rush Is Unstoppable – I am currently playing a single player online CCM with the Browns.  Jabaal Sheard has 23 sacks through 12 games.  Chances are good that he will finish the season with over 30 sacks and this is without ever controlling him.  The funny thing is that I picked up Shawne Merriman in the pre-season to play RE (opposite of LE, Sheard) and he has zero sacks.  Sure, he is constantly facing the opponent’s best blocker, but to have ZERO sacks is almost laughable.

Left Ends Are Beasts – For some reason EA Tiburon has had a major problem programming the blocking in Madden.  This was something that was pushed strongly for by the community for Madden 13 in the new Infinity Engine.  It never made it into the final build and the interactions between lineman are still showing this lacking development.  If you have a somewhat decent Defensive Left End – prepare to dominate and set records almost every year.

WR Drops Are Infuriating – In one game I counted over 14 drops by my receivers.  This was a major issue in the demo and seems to still be a major issue in the game.  While these dropped passes might not keep you from defeating a seemingly stupid CPU AI Opponent, they can ruin your experience as you are being artificially prevented from having great games (even if they aren’t ‘sim’ with your receivers).  You can move the WR Catch slider but you shouldn’t have to do this.

Injuries Are Random and Silly – After crushing Mike Vick in week one with D’Qwell Jackson it was Jackson, not the injury-prone Vick that ended up on the injury report with a torn achilles.  What makes it better is that his foot never really hit the ground as he made the tackle.  Vick on the other hand was twisted up like a pretzel and was smashed into the ground.  He got up… Jackson didn’t.  Please, for the love of all things football – fix the injury system in Madden!

Black Ops 2 Multiplayer Trailer – Does It Impress You?

While it is always nice to have a change of pace from time to time, there is also something to be said for a game that withstand the test of time.  Call of Duty isn’t one of those games.

Black Ops 2 looks good from the graphical perspective and will most likely ‘handle’ just like every other COD game.  You can always expect tight, fast and precise gameplay from Call of Duty titles.  The great part about the trailer is that it shows us exactly what we were expecting.  The terrible part is… it shows us exactly what we were expecting.

The use of the ‘Guardian’ technology around the 36 second mark should make you think back to the 60 Minutes report on a ‘ray gun’ –

This is cool.  No doubt about it – amazing technology is being developed by our government (and others).  However, this is also one of the downfalls of Call of Duty games.  They constantly push out ‘cool’ and ‘amazing’ weapons that while they might be real, tend to make the game into an annual BFG-Fest.

Between killstreaks and other numerous things that make Call of Duty the game we all love to jump on and play for hours at a time there are also some rumors out there that they are getting rid of one thing that many people have become rather annoyed with during their time with Modern Warfare 3 – Aim Assist (especially with sniper rifles).  Go ahead and throw a party – you know you want to.

It is going to be a great autumn and winter for gaming  and we can’t wait!