Accessibility in Games: An Interview with Brandon Cole now live!

Hi folks!
Quick news post here to link to an interview I did for a web site called Pop Culture Uncovered. They talk about just about everything pop culture and geek-related, including games, and they found me. Specifically, a writer of theirs named Alex Krefetz found me, and interviewed me. Here, just for you, is a link to that interview. It is my hope that others outside the blind community see this interview, and take what I say to heart.
http://popcultureuncovered.com/2014/10/22/accessibility-in-games-an-interview-with-brandon-cole-a-gamer-who-plays-without-sight/

A Blind Gamer’s Battle with the Mighty Sephiroth from Kingdom Hearts 1

Featured here is my first ever gameplay video. I made this in an effort to show the world the lengths the blind will go to to play what we can of the video games we love. I’ve been a fan of the Kingdom Hearts series since its beginning, and though I can’t play the full game, it turns out I can take part in battles. This particular battle is one of the toughest, if not the toughest in the game, and I face him on Proud mode, the game’s hardest difficulty. Take a look, or a listen, to what I can do!

Playstation Not Now, Blind Folks

Great news, guys! I had a positive experience with PlayStation Now! You know, Sony’s game streaming service that just about everyone else on the internet says is horrible, and awful, and all sorts of other things? Yeah, that service. I’m happy to report that I tried the open beta on PS4, played a game, specifically Dynasty Warriors 7, and experienced, totally not kidding here, little to no latency at all. There were a few stutters and skips here and there, but it was all perfectly tolerable, and in my opinion, it was a fun 4 hours.
However, you may have noticed that the title of this article isn’t exactly a positive one. The fun I had playing that game streamed from the cloud came with a bit of a cost. I couldn’t have done it alone. While I think PlayStation Now is a great concept and is going to be, in time, a great service, it is not the most user friendly one.
The way it currently works is like this. You rent games for varying amounts of time from the PlayStation Now section of the PSN store. Currently there is no option to buy, and rumor has it there may be a subscription option later. Now you may be thinking, “But wait! You can access the store from the web site, and it’s totally accessible and great and grand and wonderful, so ha!” Well, the web version of the store does not contain the PlayStation Now section. At present it can only be accessed from the PlayStation Store on the PS4 itself. This is a huge issue, as the store basically remains inaccessible to the blind via the console. We have no way of telling which game we’re choosing, and in this case how much our rental will cost, as prices vary from game to game.
There is a small positive right now, though. Once a game is actually rented and played once, it does appear in your list of games on the PS4 home screen. Remember how I talked about everything being in a straight line from left to right in the PS4 article? Yeah, it’ll show up there. So once someone basically rents a game for us, we do have access to it from that point forward, but really that’s not the point here. The point is that it’s impossible for us to use the service independently as it currently stands. I believe this would be fixable if Sony added the PlayStation Now section to the web store, but would they be able to interface enough between web store and console to add it to our home screen as well? That I’m not sure about.
A nonaccessibility-related side note in case you’re wondering. When you play a PlayStation Now game, you’re basically playing on a virtual PS3 somewhere else. You do have saved games, and they are stored for you in the cloud. Your saves do persist across rentals, so you can rent again at another time and keep going. Furthermore, since you really are basically playing a PS3, you can play online games with people who own the disc-based version of the game you rented. It is a bit annoying that the cloud for PlayStation Now is diferent than the cloud you can upload saves to from an actual PS3, because it means that if you own a PS3, rent a game on PlayStation Now, like it, and buy the disc-based version, you can’t bring your save to that version. Still, I mention all these things to demonstrate that the service itself is, overall, a pretty good one. It’s just a little sad that for us blind people, as of right now, it’s PlayStation NOt Now.

Game Accessibility Still Making News

I’m happy to report that another wonderful article about game accessibility has surfaced, featuring a couple folks I know, a couple I don’t, and a little smattering of me! It’s written by the same person, (Richard Moss), who wrote the last accessibility article for Polygon, and is just as detailed, just as well-researched, and I assure you, just as long. Check it out

How to make your e-fed more accessible for the blind

Hey gang!  I wrote an article over on an e-wrestling resource site about how to make online wrestling federations more accessible for the blind.  If you don’t know what an online wrestling federation is, it’s an mostly text based RPG depending on what type of fed you join.  Some use a simulator like WWE 2K14 to run their results but some of us write them out too!  You create your character complete with moveset and entrance and then you join the fed.  I book you in a match and then through working with and responding to other players, your character’s career advances or falls apart.  If you’d like to see one in action, you can join mine at http://www.skyfallwrestling.com!  We do really great with people that are totally new to it.  One prerequisite is you have to like to write!  Your promos are written and that’s how match wins or losses are decided.

If you want to check out the article on roughkut, it’s here.

http://roughkut.com/blog/2014/06/18/e-fedding-for-blind-players-how-to-make-your-site-more-accessible-for-the-blind/