In March 2023, CREATE hosted its first ever Accessible eSports Showcase. The event brought together members of the CREATE community, local community organizations, tech and games Corporate Partners, and folks from all over the Seattle area looking to learn about and celebrate strides being made in making video games more inclusive and accessible to people with disabilities.

Zillow Commons in the Bill & Melinda Gates Center was transformed into a gamer’s playground with big-screen projections of racing and party games, a VR space, and stations where users could customize their own adaptive gaming tech. Disabled and non-disabled gamers participated in multiple mini-tournaments, browsed partner booths and demo tables, and had ample opportunity for networking & community engagement.

Student showcase

The event, co-hosted by CREATE Post-doctoral student Momona Yamagami and Jesse Martinez, both studying at the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, also provided an opportunity for UW graduate students, undergraduates, and post-docs to highlight the many creative ways they’ve worked to make games accessible.

Headshot of Momona Yamagami in front of the UW cherry trees in bloom

Momona Yamagami is completing her time as a CREATE postdoctoral scholar, researching making biosignal interfaces accessible and advised by CREATE Co-director Jennifer Mankoff. Starting summer 2023, Yamagami will be an Assistant Professor at Rice University Electrical & Computer Engineering as part of the Digital Health Initiative.

Jesse Martinez, a white male with wavy brown hair, wearing a grey t-shirt.

Jesse Martinez is a fourth-year Ph.D. student whose research in Human-Computer Interaction focuses on interactive media accessibility. Advised by James Fogarty, he is lead author on A Preliminary Analysis of Android Educational Game Accessibility, with Fogarty and Jon Froehlich, in Proceedings of ASSETS 2021.

Emma McDonnell (Ph.D. student, HCDE) live-narrated a round of Jackbox Games’s Fibbage, followed by a competitive mixed-ability showdown in the Xbox racing game DiRT 5 and Martinez highlighted the many techniques being used to make Xbox gameplay accessible.

Throughout the event, Rachel Franz (Ph.D. student, iSchool) let attendees try out her latest work in accessible VR research, Jerry Cao (Ph.D. student, CSE) showed attendees how to use custom 3D-printed input devices for computer accessibility, and a brilliant team of undergraduates from HuskyADAPT, including Mia Hoffman, Neha Arunkumar, Vivian Tu, Spencer Madrid, Simar Khanuja, Laura Oliveira, Selim Saridede, Noah Shalby, and Veronika Pon, demoed three fantastic projects working to bring improved switch access to video games.

Industry and community partners tables

Industry and community partners connected with the CREATE community and our many attendees. Solomon Romney, of Microsoft’s Inclusive Tech Lab, showcased the brilliant design of the Xbox Adaptive Controller (XAC), the state-of-the-art tool in accessible controller design, and guided attendees through setting up and playing with their own XAC’s.

Amber Preston of Seattle Adaptive Sports, described the work SAS does to make all sorts of games and recreational activities more accessible and inclusive in the Seattle area.

Other industry and community partners, including researchers from Meta, Google, and Apple, used the event as a chance to meet and connect with attendees around other exciting developments in the accessible gaming space.

Thanks so much to all our attendees, partners, volunteers, and organizers for making this event such a success! As gaming accessibility continues to blossom, we’re looking forward to doing more events like in the future– we hope to see you at the next one! 

Activities

Mainstage gameplay

Attendees can go head-to-head in our accessible esports tournament that will include Forza Horizon 5 and Rocket League.

Spotlight tables

Engage with CREATE corporate and community partners around game accessibility, including Seattle Adaptive Sports, Microsoft XBox, HuskyADAPT, and UW CREATE. Participate in accessible gaming tech demos, and more!

Spotlight organizations included:

Non-competitive gameplay

In addition to the mainstage gameplay, there were various accessible video games available to play, ranging from cooperative games to streamed large-audience party games, and a VR station! Games included:

  • Jackbox Party Pack Games
  • Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
  • Beat Saber

Socializing, networking and food

We will also have designated spaces for attendees to socialize with each other and make new connections in the accessible gaming space. Dinner will be provided.

Accessibility & logistics

Parking

Parking is free for non-UW-affiliated attendees. Check your email for information.

Parking description Map to parking Walking map to Gates Building
With a disability parking placard, tag, or plate.
4-minute walk.
Parking lot N22 N22 to Gates Bldg walking map
General paid parking, covered and uncovered in a multi-level open air structure.
9-minute walk.
Padelford Parking Garage Padelford to Gates Bldg walking map
General paid parking, in a multi-level garage.
8-minute walk.
Central Plaza Garage Central Plaza to Gates Bldg walking map
Close, but small lot with 3 disability parking spots, on a first come-first serve basis.
2-minute walk.
C14 lot C14 lot to Gates Bldg walking map
Close, but small lot with 3 disability parking spots, on a first come-first serve basis.
2-minute walk.
C15 lot C15 lot to Gates Bldg walking map
Table description: Parking options with maps
Column one describes the parking option; column two has links to parking locations; column three has walking maps from parking to the Gates Building.

Wheelchair-accessible space & accommodations

  • Live gameplay commentary on Mainstage gameplay
  • Captions and ASL interpretation for all Mainstage content
  • Quiet room with ample seating and a silent livestream of Mainstage gameplay
  • Complimentary food and beverages
  • Screen reader-accessible online event program/guide

Adaptive devices

  • Xbox Adaptive Controllers with customizable switches, joysticks, and foot pedals
  • Additional specialty gaming equipment provided by industry partners (TBD)

If you have any additional accommodation requests, please include them in your event registration, or reach out to Jesse Martinez at jessejm@cs.washington.edu.

Considerations  

  • Introduce yourself by name in a conversation.
  • Keep pathways clear, and be mindful of others when navigating the space.
  • DO NOT touch other attendees, their assistive devices, or their mobility devices without consent.
  • Please keep conversation family-friendly as there are children at the event.
  • Please wear a mask and keep your hands clean (hand sanitizer is available throughout the venue).