With 66% of disabled gamers facing barriers or issues related to gaming, our Gaming Priority Action Area aims to unite all stakeholders and ultimately work towards creating an accessible industry standard for gaming. All while giving delegates a hands-on experience with the assistive tech that is available on the market.
This week, we are pleased to introduce another of our Champions: Matt Allcock, better known as The Wobbly Gamer. Matt is a video games accessibility consultant, accessibility advocate, and disabled content creator and streamer. In this interview, he tells us more about his experiences, his vision for Disability Expo 2024, and the future of the gaming industry.
What inspired you to become an advocate for accessible gaming, and how did you get involved in leading the gaming zone at the Disability Expo?
Matt Allcock: Honestly, it was a selfish moment, I found out my usable vision was decreasing and one of my initial worries was “How will I be able to play FIFA/EAFC with my friends”, FIFA/EAFC and video games were a massive part of my social life, my escape and my hobby. Over the years this has turned into a huge passion of mine! After working with visually impaired children in the charity sector I will always remember a young boy who lived and breathed Pokémon but struggled to play it sometimes due to the text size and it broke my heart, why should he miss out on what he adores when his non-disabled friends weren’t.
This experience drove me further, I had been there myself and knew the exact feeling that young boy was experiencing, I don’t understand why anyone should have to go through that experience in today’s society. I got into leading the zone thanks to the amazing Simon from Adapt IT, me and him have the exact same passions and just want to see everyone gaming no matter their disability or ability, I streamed from the expo in 23 and I had such an amazing 2 days in the gaming zone last year I’ve continued to work with Simon and Adapt IT! After Expo 23 Simon and Alan approached me with regards to helping with the gaming zone at Expo 24 and I couldn’t refuse!
In your opinion, what are the most significant challenges faced by gamers with disabilities, and how do you believe events like the Disability Expo contribute to addressing these challenges?
Matt Allcock: I could spend hours answering this question! But honestly the biggest challenge for myself is the stigma and breaking down that barrier between disabled and non-disabled gamers; at the end of the day, we are all just gamers. We all want to be able to play games without barriers, and accessibility is helping to break down those barriers!
I have been asked more times than you could imagine, how do I game and the simple response is: like you.
I just need some extra settings/adaptions to the games I play. Events like Disability Expo are vital to show everyone, from other gamers to the people who make the games we play, that disabled gamers exist, we do play your games and we can be just as good as any other gamer with the right support! Bringing together these companies and people celebrating everything from disabled content creators to the non-disabled game developers who champion accessibility will highlight the amazing people within the accessibility and disabled gaming communities.
Can you share a success story or a memorable moment where accessible gaming had a positive impact on someone’s life?
Matt Allcock: My biggest memory is from Disability Expo 23: a young girl came to the gaming zone who had quite prevalent mobility issues, she and her family were convinced she wouldn’t be able to game like her friends. Simon and his team set her up on an accessible station, and using the adaptive controllers and the settings in the game, she was able to play a Paw Patrol game!
I have never seen a little girl so happy to be able to play a game; there wasn’t a dry eye in the gaming zone at that moment. For me, that’s what it’s all about: getting everyone gaming no matter their age, ability or disability.
What does the future of accessible gaming look like, and what steps can the industry take to be more inclusive?
Matt Allcock: The future of accessible gaming is exciting! More and more companies are working with consultants/advocates like myself as well as disabled gamers themselves to create a more accessible industry as a standard, working together will only enable us to create better games!
My biggest piece of advice to any games company is to listen and learn from their disabled players, they are the best people to learn from, they are the ones who play your games/want to play your games and their knowledge is vital; we can learn and grow from one another to make the industry a more accessible industry to all!
What advice do you have for game developers and event organizers who want to make their games and events more inclusive and accessible to disabled people?
Matt Allcock: TALK TO US! There is a saying within the world of disability and accessibility: Don’t talk about us without us. We want to speak to you about how to best make your games and events accessible!
We have the lived experience that no amount of education can replicate; we want to help make accessibility a reality so speak to us, employ us and let us help you to make your games, events and products accessible to us!
In your role as a champion for accessible gaming, how do you prioritise and promote an inclusive community within the gaming zone, ensuring that everyone feels welcome and able to participate, regardless of their disability?
Matt Allcock: Everything we are planning within the Gaming Zone has accessibility and inclusivity at its core! We are planning on working with a full host of disabled gamers, disabled content creators and accessibility specialists to ensure we don’t exclude anyone and the gaming zone is accessible to all whether that is the controller/setup you will be using to game right up to the companies we will be working with within the zone. Everyone involved will be working together to ensure no one is isolated or excluded from the gaming zone at Expo 24!
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