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How to Get Help

Who


You greatly increase your chances of actually getting changes made if you talk to the right person.

Go to the developer's Web site and use the eMail address or message box on their Contact, About, or Support pages.

Use the telephone number you may find on those pages.
Small Companies
Many small game companies consist of only one or two programmers. This is the person who can actually make the change you want.

Ask for "The programmer."
Medium Companies or Divisions
Many large companies consist of multiple smaller companies they've bought. These smaller divisions often operate like independent mid-sized companies. Often they are called "Game Studios."

What that means for you is that you're more likely to talk with somone who either manages the programmers or who manages the products.

Ask to speak with the:
  • Director of Research and Development
  • Lead Developer
  • Product Manager for the game you're interested in
When in doubt, ask for "the person who decides what features go into your games."
Large Companies
If you're trying to get changes made by a large company and contacting one of their studios hasn't worked, then you're unlikely to be able to talk directly with anyone who actually builds games.

You might try:
  • Contacting corporate Product Management
  • Contacting corporate Customer Support
  • Posting your request on the company's Web site forum
Another option is to contact an industry recognized advocate.

At this time the most effective advocate is Mark Barlet, owner of AbleGamers.com and the AbleGamers Foundation.

Another source of advocacy is at http://gameaccessibility.blogspot.com, the Independent Game Developers Association - Game Accessibility Special Interest Group.

Our colleague, Barrie, suggested Special Effect - a charity dedicated to helping ALL young people with disabilities to enjoy computer games. It's at www.specialeffect.org.uk.

When


Games, like any software, go through a life-cycle:
  • Design
  • Build
  • Beta Testing
  • Release
  • Support
  • Retire
Beta testing is the best time to get that one small change you need in order to play a game. The developers are expecting suggestions and (may) have time allocated to implement them.

The design phase is the next best time to get either small or large changes made. Unfortunatly, you generally don't know when a game is under design. However, you can make suggestions for the next release of a game, if there is a next release planned. Or you can make suggestions for what you need for any of their games to be playable by you.

It is possible that a developer might make a small change while a game is being built or after it's shipped and is in Support. This is more true of the smaller game companies.

Don't even try to get changes made for a game that the developer isn't selling or supporting any more. You might check the Audyssey forum and ask one of the developers there if they know of a game that is like what you want, but is blind accessible.
And don't ask for anything while a game is actually being released. Everyone is going totally nuts. There's no time for anything, including listening to your suggestions. Call back after it's shipped and people have had time to go home.

How

Be Specific
Do your homework first.

Identify the specific change or changes you need in order to play a specific game.

It may be something very simple. Or the changes you need could be large and complex.

Articles on this site are intended to help you identify your specific needs in the terms a developer can use to help you. They're also intended to help the developer know how to help you. Use them.
Be Reasonable
Game developers are people too. If you're rude or demanding, they aren't likely to help you.

Similarly, the better prepared you are for a discussion, the more likely it is to get you the changes you want.

Understand that what may seem simple and easy to you may not be so easy for the developer to code. At least be open to alternatives.

Finally, game companies have limited resources in time and people. It's better to ask for what you absolutely must have in order to play a game, and defer the nice to haves. It's better not to call during the "Crunch" of release time.
Be persistent
Even if a developer makes the changes you want, they may not get it completely right. We've made requested changes to our games and gotten them wrong the first time. Someone complained and we fixed them again, correctly.

A larger company may not be as responsive as, say, Niels Bauer Games, at first. Keep trying. Mark Barlet's experience has shown that repeated requests, even to the largest game companies, can eventually result in changes.

Final Words


You can get developers to change their games.

Dark got Niels Bauer Games to change Smugglers 4. We've changed our games in response to gamer requests. Mark Barlet of AbleGamers has gotten some of the largest game companies to change their games.

For technical details, look at:

The Short Version
Screen Readers and Games
Self Voicing and Games

John Bannick
Chief Technical Officer
7-128 Software

jbannick@7128.com