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  • Writer's pictureNate Hermanson

Not-E3 2023 Day 3: Access-Ability's inaugural showcase is new, needed, and exciting

If there's anything nice we can say about the up-and-down chaos of the last few pandemic-fueled years of showcases, it's that the new digital-first approach has enabled an incredible amount of diverse groups to pop up establish their voices within the wider games industry.

Such is the case with Day 3's most intriguing showcase, Laura Kate Dale's Access-Ability Summer Showcase, sponsored by I Need Diverse Games.

The key art for the Access-Ability Summer Showcase. It features two controllers connected by one wire that loops around a blue fascimile of a person in the middle. This is all set against a blue background with pixelized hearts. A sponsor logo is in the upper right for I Need Diverse Games, a rainbow colored controller lineart.

The Access-Ability Summer Showcase is the debut of the label's showcase format, but not the debut of Laura's Access-Ability series by a long shot. Laura Kate Dale was and continues to be an inspiration to VGG's overall message and goals, with a career dedicated to diversity in coverage and representation for gamers of all kinds. She started the Access-Ability video series back in 2020 and has spent the last three years simultaneously celebrating the efforts to make gaming more accessible and critiquing the places where the industry fails disabled gamers.

The Access-Ability Summer Showcase is just another milestone for the series, gathering up a group of game devs who are going above and beyond to promote accessibility in their games, both in the actual content explored in their games and in the accessibility features prioritized throughout their development process.

It was a joyful presentation. One that put the focus on the devs and the disabled gamers whose lives have been uplifted by gaming, even if the industry has sorely disappointed them at times. The focus of the show, though, was on the joy gaming can bring and the ways the 15 games featured allow more and more people to play them and experience that delight, allowing them to feature their skills in games of all types by removing the unnecessary barriers and creating innovative tools for active inclusion of disabled and neurodivergent gamers.

Those are the kinds of things we took away from the showcase, particularly from the powerful and well-stated words of journalist and accessibility consultant Vivek Gohil, whose mid-show talk resonated with us especially.

Beyond instilling a feeling of hope about where accessibility may be headed for development studios big and small, the Access-Ability Summer Showcase also showcased games whose dedication to accessibility is more than enough reason to support them. But every game just so happened to look wildly inventive and artistically fascinating, too. It's almost like folks who take accessibility seriously are also just really great game designers. Who knew!

Games featured include:

  • Mythwrecked Ambrosia Island, a narrative adventure featuring Greek gods from Polygon Treehouse and Whitethorn Games,

  • Skye Tales, a cutesy music-based puzzler from Puny Astronaut Limited and 4J Studios.

  • BOSSGAME: The Final Boss is my Heart, a lesbian romance boss rush game from Lilycore Games.

  • Space Boat, a narrative sci-fi adventure set on an intergalactic cruise ship from Recombobulator Games.

  • Sniper Elite 5, the slo-mo Nazi-killing sniper game from Rebellion.

  • A Knight in the Attic, a nostalgic VR adventure where you go on an adventure in your attic from Mighty Yell.

  • Upheaval, a classic open world text adventure RPG from Alex Leone.

  • Princess Farmer, a narrative match 3 puzzle game starring cute bunnies from Samobee Games and Whitethorn Games.

  • Botany Manor, a puzzle room adventure that takes place in a lush manor from Balloon Studios and Whitethorn Games.

  • Brok the Investigator, a half classic point-and-click adventure game and half beat-em-up from COWCAT Games.

  • Himig, an episodic everyday life adventure based in the Phillippines from OnionBlaze.

  • Solace State, a cyberpunk and hopepunk choice-driven visual novel from Vivid Foundry.

  • Pine Hearts, a narrative-driven adventure game that has players exploring a caravan park from Hyper Luminal Games.

  • BLINNK and the Vacuum of Space, a VR sci-fi adventure built for autistic players from Changingday.

  • Stories of Blossom, a beautiful watercolor fungi adventure that can be played by sight-impaired gamers from Soft Leaf Studios.

All of their showcases highlighted the various ways that they built accessibility into the DNA of their games and development processes; and the sorts of features and toggles each game has built to make the experience playable for as many people as possible. As Laura states, no game can be accessible for every single person's unique and overlapping needs... but somewhere in this showcase, there is hopefully a game whose feature set is specifically tuned for you.

Video games are good. Video games are for everyone. And folks like the crew at Access-Ability and their sponsors at I Need Diverse Games are making games even better. Watch this showcase if you have a chance, because the more these features are demanded as standard across the industry, the better for everyone.


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