Earlier this week, the Games Accessibility Conference 2020 took place entirely online. Usually, the conference takes place at venues, however, due to coronavirus essentially shifting every event and conference to an online audience this year, GAConf followed suit. In addition, the event was now free to join and watch, although people were still able to register for access to chat rooms.
Ian Hamilton and Tara Voelker worked hard to pull together an event that included captions and ASL interpretation on screen for all talks that took place from September 28 to September 29. Speaking to CIPT, Ian shared some figures from the event.
While getting exact figures on views is rough, he reveals that the maximum number of viewers the event had at any one time was around 450. Throughout the two days, people were dipping in and out of the stream, either due to wanting to see particular talks or having to contend to work commitments and catching up at a later time by watching the video-on-demand.
Ian also reveals that GAConf saw over 1200 registrations this year and was watched over 2000 times. Last October, when the conference went to London, there were 160 registrations with around 150 people turning up with another ~50 watching the stream online.
The jump in numbers has been fantastic to see, and Ian says, “if you go back say 5 years ago to GDC 2015 that’s a conference of literally tens of thousands of game developers, and out of that 20k+ it was a huge deal if 20 people would show up for an accessibility talk and an equally huge deal if a person from a AAA studio attended.” He also shares that this year’s conference saw companies sending over 50 people each.
The team behind GAConf hopes to continue to spread knowledge in the future. Talks featured during the stream were all pre-recorded, with Tara doing live links between talks. Ian says that because these talks were pre-recorded they were ready to be pushed online immediately and a captioning company is in the process of ensuring all videos have full subtitles available. The team is also looking at other ways to spread the videos out to the industry with possible highlights reels and more.
If you were unable to attend the Games Accessibility Conference 2020 or were only able to attend some talks, you can find the full playlist on the official YouTube channel. Talks included those such as Steve Saylor talking on marketing, Morgan Baker speaking about the power of customization, Daniel Lemon talking about Sequence Storm’s musical experiment, and more.
There was even a talk that featured Brannon Zahand from Xbox, Karen Stevens from EA, Ameliane Chiasson from Square Enix, and David Tisserand from Ubisoft. Emilia Schatz & Matthew Gallant from Naughty Dog also had a talk about the accessibility features in The Last of Us Part 2.