We created the first publicly-available adaptation of a mainstream first-person shooter game that made it accessible to blind and vision-impaired gamers. This includes: single-player, co-op and deathmatch play; tools to modify the game and even a basic Level Description Language to allow people to describe, rather than visually design, new levels for the game.
Since the last update we’ve got text-to-speech working on the Mac and are hoping to release a new version of that soon. We’re also looking into updating the documentation and getting it working on Windows too. Here are some links to more information.
Links to keep up-to-date with and download the latest AudioQuake and Level Description Language releases.
We started working on what became AudioQuake in 2003. At this time, there were no popular mainstream games that had been made accessible for blind and vision-impaired players. There was already a blossoming community of developers making games specifically for blind people, but we set out to show that social inclusion of gamers with disabilities was possible, even in the fast-paced first person shooter (FPS) world.
It is of paramount importance for access to be afforded not just to the game, but its surrounding community, including the coding of game modifications and authoring of new levels (or “maps”) for the game. Both of these activities are creative and socially enriching and have been enjoyed by mainstream gamers for many years. We’re pleased to have demonstrated that these goals are achievable—and have released the code for others to use.
We exhibited AudioQuake at QAC Sight Village in 2004 and 2005. We ran a series of workshops on creating and modifying accessible games at the 2005 International Camp on Communications and Computers in Brno, Czech Republic. We also wrote some academic papers about our work, with input and participation from the community.
Since then, we’ve handed over development to the community and we’re now working in other areas, on new accessibility-related projects. Life did take a few unexpected turns to accelerate this, but we are very grateful to those in the community who supported us and went on to make some great new mods for the game in the process!
For some time now, many people and organisations (such as the IGDA Game Accessibility SIG, Game Accessibility and AbleGamers have begun to lobby for and support mainstream developers in providing accessibility in their games. This really seems to be taking off and getting industry attention. We are all showing it’s both not all that hard (and it makes commercial sense) and are looking forward to seeing many more accessible—at the point of release—mainstream games in future.
Development continues in the community. In line with revamping AudioQuake and the Level Description Language for modern platforms, we are dusting off the old site that has been preserved for posterity for the past few years. For now, you can read the following pages for more information.