Tag Archives: dragon con

A Cosplayer’s Impact

The following is a guest post from Xavier Conley, also known as XCFett. Xavier has been heavily into cosplay for about five years. He plays various characters from across geekdom, from Star Wars, Lord Of The Rings, and the Dark Knight.


xcfett-batmanSo DragonCon this year was the first time I wore my Batman armor to a major con. As many of you know I’ve had to deal with issues regarding bigots who can’t seem to wrap their mind around the idea of a black guy cosplaying Batman, because “Batman is historically white, there are plenty of black characters you could do instead”. Well, I cosplay Batman because I love the character and because representation matters.

When I say it matters let me tell you what happened on the Saturday of DragonCon this year. I was walking around posing in my Dark Knight when I happened upon a little (POC) boy in a black and yellow batman costume. He couldn’t have been more than 5 or 6. With him was his mother. This little boy saw me approaching and immediately stopped dead in his tracks, tugging at his mother’s hand. I could see him point at his hand (the skin) and then pointing to me. I approached and he was a little intimidated at first as any little kid is when meeting a life-sized armored character. I knelt down and reached out my hand for a high five. With all the force he could muster he slapped my hand, with the biggest smile on his face.

He told me he wanted to ask me something so, still kneeling I leaned in with my ear. “Batman” he said timidly “You’re brown, just like me! Does that mean that I can be a real superhero someday too? I don’t see a lot of brown superheros…” If you know me, you know that I don’t ever break character but I broke down when he said that. His words touched the deepest part of my soul. I then ignored my #1 batman rule and removed my cowl so he could see my face. His face lit up and I teared up even more.

I looked this kid dead in the eye and said “you can be any superhero you want to be and don’t ever let anyone tell you different. Being a brown superhero is a very special thing and I know you’re going to make a great one.” He nodded, still grinning. I put my cowl back on, wiping away the remaining tears and trying to get back in to character. The boy’s mother was moved by the exchange as well and let me know that I had made her son’s day by doing what I did.

Think about this.

These kids are growing up in a country where you can so easily feel like “less than” because your skin is darker. Police brutality and racism are being made ever so visible by today’s multimedia outlets and these kids aren’t blind, they take that in. For kids like this little boy, the idea that you can one day be a superhero, no matter what your skin color is, opens up a whole new world for them. This is why I cosplay.

This is why I’m The Batman.
xcfett-batman2


You can find Xavier’s etsy store here. He’s also on Instagram @XCFett and facebook at facebook.com/xcfett, where you can find numerous photographs of the characters he plays.

All images sourced from the Facebook page.

Dragon Con 2016: Awesomely Bad Japanese Music Videos Celebrates the Best of the Bad

When my Dragon Con roommate Kurt aka TheGreatSG told me about his panel for Dragon Con, I figured it was worth a look. I hadn’t been in the J-Music scene in a while, but I’m always down for weird music videos.

I was not prepared for how weird it was going to get.

06f4bb77-02ff-4c8d-a518-2b3a444cb4b6

While this was my first year attending, Awesomely Bad Japanese Music videos has become something of a staple of cons in the Southeast. Showcasing the best of the bad, the panel has grown to have its own in-jokes and expectations over the years. Starting with the glory of interdimensional being Daigo Stardust to the death of Tarako Kewpie at the hands of Chris Jericho. Don’t worry, where that strange red bean kewpie fell, what will rise in its place is an epic and mind-bending song about snack crackers composed by Yoko Kanno. No, really.

The thing I quickly learned between being swung back to the days of Kishidan and Supercar’s somewhat mortifying ‘Be’ video is that Awesomely Bad Japanese Music Videos is not really about mocking these videos. Which seems like it would be the main idea when you got videos like ‘Nande?’ and the bizarre, hysterical and cheaply made video for Polysics’ ‘Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto.’ However, as much as it is about comedy, it’s also about celebrating the weird. There’s something of an art in the weird and SG gets that. It’s fun because it’s weird and awesomely bad. Not in spite of it.

Of course, there’s even a few earworms in there. I had ‘Nande?’ and Complex’s ‘Be My Baby’ stuck in my head for days after the panel. And, of course, FISH FIGHT!

ace0d17b-40eb-4275-b754-0ae6c0a934d4

If you’re at a con where Awesomely Bad Japanese Music videos will be at, I implore you to give it a look. It will be weird and awesomely bad, but it’s presentation is the furthest thing from malicious. Being introduced to these videos in a crowd that was just as into it as I was was easily some of the most fun I had at the con this year. If have one complaint though, it’s that we didn’t get ‘Miira Killer on our playlist, but that’s only because I’m biased towards the current NXT Champion.

For the Dragon Con playlist and to find out when Awesomely Bad is coming to a con near you, check them out on Facebook or Tumblr.

Dragon Con 2016: DCW takes over Thursday Night

If you needed any more proof that the popularity of pro-wrestling is growing within nerd communities, Dragon Con was certainly the place to see that. Besides the fair amount of wrestling cosplay (myself as Bayley and Finn Bálor included), it was impossible to go around the con this year without coming across fellow nerds wearing wrestling shirts on the show floor. If I had to wager a guess, The New Day was easily the most popular with variations on and within the Bullet Club being a close second.

Knowing this, it isn’t a surprise that Dragon Con Wrestling saw its biggest turnout since it started 15 years ago this year. And on a Thursday, no less!

DCW pulls performers from all over the Georgia independent scene and beyond to put on a fun and somewhat nerdy tinged show for the audience. This was my first year getting to attend the show and oh boy, what a show it was.

4ed7b034-78c5-453f-b3ed-3626e796bb59

First of all, the crowd was exactly what you’d expect from what happens when you mix a wrestling crowd with Dragon Con’s drinking habits. One guy even kept trying to get everyone in the front sections to do the wave, even though that’s a huge ‘NO’ at wrestling events. Having to deal with drunk and disorderly in my section tended to take me out of the show in some sections, but it definitely wasn’t a deal breaker.

As for the matches themselves, there was a fun and decent variety to be had. From the first ever match won by submission in DCW history by a crossface applied by Joe Black to Adrian Armour to an intergender tag match for the Atlanta Wrestling Entertainment tag titles, the competitors for the evening were no slouches in the ring. They had the crowd going hard too if the reaction to Why We Wrestle’s Billy Buck getting a very heel win over the Venom cosplaying Stryk Nyn was any indication. Don’t worry, Stryk got him back with a spear to keep the crowd happy going into the next match.

Since it is Dragon Con, there was a LOT of cosplay happening in the matches. Starting with CB Suave’s Rock cosplay, we got everything from dark lords of Satan, Venom, Harley Quinn, Team Rocket, She-Hulk, Mickey Rourke, an ongoing fight between a Peter Griffin and a Chicken, and even a delightful Cheshire Cat inspired wrestler named Manchild. The real cosplay highlight though came in the competition for the Dragon’s Cup where Sith Lord Mikal Mosley defeated the Star Trek inspired Amazing Darkstone with a move that can only be described as a “Force Choke Slam.” I’m surprised I still have eardrums after the massive pop that got.

02fb0489-5e0e-4194-b7d9-0ac5a5104d8c

The night also brought out the true emotion behind wrestling. Beginning with a certain Atlanta based YouTuber being inducted into the DCW Hall of Fame, the night also saw the final DCW match for veteran Tank. While I was not familiar with Tank before that night, the gruff man’s way of connecting with the crowd during his tag match with Iceberg against the “Genetically Superior” Logan Creed and Bobby Moore was undeniable, especially when he let a man in a wheelchair get in on the action by letting him land a few “hits” on Creed. Plus, it’s always a sad affair when a wrestler has to hang up his boots. He showed his love for the DCW crowd and his “brothers” in the ring and in the back, and the DCW crowd showed their love with a booming chant of “THANK YOU TANK.” Happy trails to you, Tank.

For my first year experiencing it, Dragon Con Wrestling was definitely worth my four hours on a Thursday night. It lives up to the spirit of the con in so many ways while definitely being its own exciting thing. Count me back next year, especially if Mikal and Azrael are facing off for the Dragon’s Cup. I want to see what they do next.

Special thanks to Georgia Wrestling History for their notes on the event.

Dragon Con 2016: Come for the Party, Stay for the Music

One of the most underrated aspects of Dragon Con is the diverse and fun music line up that manages to happen every year. Most people know about The Cruxshadows and Voltaire, for better or worse, but there’s a whole host of bands, singers and DJs that make their way down for the con every year and put on a great show.

3b61fc78-f7d8-4716-a873-f94ce67c3d1e

Probably the bands you’re most likely to hear about are the ones who get to be on the main stage once during the weekend. I only got to see two of those bands in full this year. The first being Florida Steampunk outlet The Cog Is Dead. The Cog is Dead have been around for about ten years, but didn’t actually start touring until a few years ago. If you get a chance to see them live though, I highly recommend it. Much like a lot of other bands in the Steampunk genre, they play around a lot with their sound and songs. The Cog is Dead in particular, have a very rock sound along the lines of Automaton, The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing and The Extraordinary Contraptions, but weave in a certain folk and sideshow element as well. Probably the most fun part of their show was the extra video segments they used in between songs to help create the story of the band, one of which explaining why their usual bassist was gone for the weekend. Spoiler alert: he got sent back in time and was being chased by dinosaurs.

The other mainstage band I got to see was the fabled Here Come The Mummies, a funk band based out of Nashville composed of “5000 year-old Egyptian Mummies with a one-track mind.” They got to play Dragon Con last year, but due to personal issues, I ended up missing the show. I made it a point to see them this year and from the beginning where they entered in the Centennial Ballroom parade style with horns and drums until after the show where one of their mummified members was dancing on the merch table while signing people’s CDs, Here Come The Mummies were a funky awesome time to have at midnight. I mean, when a band dressed as mummies opens with a song that declares “you’re free to be a freak among freaks,” you know you and they are in the right place to play. After a more than an hour of funky undead grooves, innuendo, signs that say ‘wooo,’ beat box flute, and even an errant string of white confetti hanging from the ballroom ceiling, I think it’s fair to say that Here Come The Mummies are easily one of the best bands I’ve seen at Dragon Con.

73f738d1-6f32-4394-add5-69b04029b327

Of course, the main stages aren’t the only places to see live music. The concourses are also a hopping location, with many of the smaller acts playing several times in a weekend or even some of the bigger acts playing smaller and more intimate shows. This year, the concourse brought the return of Unwoman, the gothic Bay Area cello player known for her haunting voice and looping cello. Performing several months pregnant this year, Unwoman didn’t miss a beat as she went from song to song about divorce, how Mr. Rochester is the worst, falling in love in Chicago, her song ‘The Heroine’ that was The Weather in Night Vale once, and even a fantastic cover of Peter Gabriel’s ‘In Your Eyes.’ For a couple of songs, she was joined by ex-Abney Park member Nathanial Johnstone on guitar, adding an extra layer of awesome to her set.

New to the concourse this year was Orlando outfit Geekapella, a cosplaying nerdy acapella group composed mostly of women. Out of all the acts I’ve seen at Dragon Con before, I had never seen an acapella group in the past ten years. They were super fun, picking extremely nerdy songs from Hikaru Utada’s ‘Simple and Clean,’ ‘Stronger Than You’ from Steven Universe, a mash-up of Danny Elfman’s Batman theme with ‘My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark’ by Fall Out Boy, and the ‘John Williams is The Man’ mashup from a few years ago. However, the real highlight of their performance for me was their rendition of ‘Actual Cannibal Shia LaBeouf.’ It was a song I would have never thought to work for acapella, but I enjoy being hilariously proven wrong.

2ca81196-485b-4c81-875e-698d8e6c4889

Easily the most emotional moment on the concourse this year came with the final performance of the weekend. After nearly two decades together and playing shows at Dragon Con, Emerald Rose had their final concourse show on Monday. While they were a band I didn’t actively follow, there are still members of the band I consider friends of a sort, so it was still an emotional hour plus. With songs like ‘Urania Sings,’ ‘Caledonia,’ ‘Penny in The Well’ and ‘Summerland’ mixed with funny stories from over the years, it did really feel final for the elder statesmen of the Dragon Con Concourse. I was glad that I got to be there for it, remembering how reviewing one of their albums was my very first freelance gig.

While the live music of Dragon Con is always a good time, there are certainly no shortage of awesome DJs playing music to dance your butt off to. There are a lot of parties and raves to choose from over the weekend hosted by many different tracks, but for my money, the best one is The Mechanical Masquerade. Perhaps I am personally biased towards my friends and my years in Steampunk, but DJ Doctor Q and the Alternate History Track go out of their way to put on a party that is a never miss. With grooving mashups and fantastic go go dancers from the Atlanta burlesque community, it’s easy to lose yourself in this party and go all night long, no matter what your costume is.

f40e89c4-e08b-4ab1-a58a-972c50c75dfe
If you ever find yourself at Dragon Con, take time to check out the musical performances and DJs at the con. There’s a huge variety and you’re sure to discover something or someone you like. Maybe even walk away with a new CD or two.

Dragon Con 2016: One Last Time with Team “March”

For the third year in a row, the team behind the critically acclaimed and award winning March trilogy came to Dragon Con to discuss the book and the real life inspirations behind it. This year was particularly auspicious since not only was it following the release of the third and final volume, but it was also artist Nate Powell’s first ever Dragon Con. A drop in the bucket compared to co-writer Andrew Aydin’s nineteen, but it was still a welcome sight to see the entire team Aydin, Powell and Representative John Lewis together at the con for the very first time.

img_1882

A big theme at the start of the panel was happiness and relief. The series has been in the works since about 2009 and to have all three volumes out and to be so well received has been nothing short of “euphoric” according to Aydin. There was a great amount of pressure the two felt to get not just the story of Lewis right, but of everyone else involved in the Civil Rights Movement. Powell especially talked about the devil of the details in some of the more extremely well documented events such as the March on Washington and the Selma to Montgomery marches and how doing right by the people who were there means getting the details of what they were wearing that day right.

As for Lewis, he is extremely happy with having the third book finally be out and was practically kissing it when it was in hand. He credits Aydin and Powell so much with getting the story out there into the world, calling them his “young brothers” and praising their ability to “make the words dance and sing.”

A lot of what has come up for March in these panels over the past three years is how resonant the story still is in our current social and political climate. That was purposeful according to the team, with the idea that the book would not only tell a story that Lewis feels responsible to tell as the last living member of the Big Six, but as a guide for the future of the movement. Lewis still absolutely believes in nonviolence and that if it can be done right in America, maybe we can be a model for the rest of the world. As for Aydin’s view on tackling the weight of that history, it boils down to seven words: “Follow your heart, and follow John Lewis.”

img_1881

With the story of March expanding past Lewis’ life in later volumes, the team took a focus on bringing up two major parts that don’t get brought up in history books a lot: the political maneuvering that happened behind the scenes and the importance of the women who were on the front lines. The political maneuvering was something of a challenge for Aydin and Powell, who were trying to effectively portray it in a graphic format. It did lead to particular artistic choices though, with Powell taking pride in a panel in Book Three where he drew the cords of the phones spoken on during the Mississippi Freedom Summer as a twisted spider-web of maneuvering and intrigue.

When it comes to the women, Book Three focuses particularly on activists Annie Cooper, Amelia Boynton and Fannie Lou Hamer, who Lewis names as “the soul of the Mississippi movement” in the book and whose televised testimony at the Convention’s Credentials Committee in 1964 was famously cut off by an emergency press conference by President Johnson specifically to divert the press away from her words. When asked about writing about Hamer and the other women involved during the movement, Lewis was point blank on the why. “Women did a lot of the dirty work and never get the credit.”

As the panel came to a conclusion, Lewis did a lot to emphasize his faith in today’s youth for carrying the movement forward in ways they weren’t able to back then and even giving credit to his younger colleagues in the House for being able to use Periscope and Twitter to broadcast their gun violence sit in earlier this year when the CSPAN cameras were cut off. Towards the end, he told the story of going to another convention where a second-grade girl asked him a very simple question: “Representative Lewis, how are you so awesome?”

By the end of the panel, I was asking myself the same question.

Dragon Con 2016: Team “Motor Crush” Hosts Panel, Talks Bad Bitches on Bikes

img_1757If you were at Dragon Con this year, you might have been wondering just who that lovely looking lady with the nail studded cricket bat on your badge was. The answer to that is Domino Swift, the protagonist of the upcoming Image Comics series Motor Crush! While Domino was all over roughly 77,000 badges this past Labor Day weekend, an even smaller number got an early look into Motor Crush on Saturday afternoon when the panel took place.

Fans of the Batgirl of Burnside will immediately recognize the creative team behind Motor Crush. Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher, and Babs Tarr are continuing their work as a unit with this new book that’s being released on December 7. In fact, this book has been in the works for some time, with the three of them starting to talk about revamping an old pitch Fletcher had done for Oni Press back in the early 2000s around the time issue 3 or 4 of Batgirl had come out.

In fact, the team admitted that one of the reasons they had started work on Motor Crush around then is that they were told that Batgirl might only run six issues due to impending cancellation. We know now that isn’t what happened, but the team did decide to walk away from Batgirl to work on this series. No hard feelings between them and DC though. They’re proud of their work on the series (even if Frankie didn’t get to be Oracle) and had nothing but nice things to say about DC editor Mark Doyle.

As for Motor Crush though, we’re about to see a whole different animal from Stewart, Fletcher, and Tarr. Described as “Bad Bitches, the comic” by Tarr, the story follows up and coming Domino in a world where motorcycle racing is the primary form of entertainment. However, at night, she’s running a great risk to herself, her family and her career by competing in illegal and violent street races for something known as Crush, a “machine narcotic” used to boost engines in races. At the start of the series, one driver has already died in a crash from it. So the main question of the series becomes why is Domino competing for it?

img_1831

Fletcher, Stewart and Tarr hope to answer that question over the course of the series, which should run for at least 15 issues, if not more! The series is much more cohesive between the three of them, with Tarr contributing a lot more to the plot as well as doing her own colors while Stewart has been confirmed as the letterer for the series along with layouts. Tarr is also taking a more traditional route with the art this time, using a mix of traditional and digital art for the series along with hand lettering sound effects. She says being able to ink traditionally has helped her a lot in her creative process by allowing her to not spend all day on her computer noodling with one particular line.

What’s this more cohesive process between the three of them been like? “We argue a lot,” Stewart responded, only half-jokingly.

Still, that arguing must be paying off. As a special treat to the attendees of the panel, the three gave away copies of the #0 issue, which is technically the ashcan of the first half of #1. The setting of Nova Honda, which was inspired by both the good and bad parts of Rio de Janeiro and the colors of Miami, is lush and colorful and what little we get to see of the characters so far, they’re a delightful and intriguing bunch. The Willow Smith influence on the way Domino carries herself is especially felt.

img_1832

As for the series itself, not only will it deliver set up in the first arc, but the first five issues will include a prologue to Fletcher’s other Image series Isola, which is also being helmed by Gotham Academy co-creator Karl Kerschl. Fletcher describes the series as being very Miyazaki-esque and violent, but in a different way from violence of Motor Crush.It’s brutal to your heart and less to your face,” he said on the panel.

I’ve been intrigued by Motor Crush since its announcement, but the Motor Crush takeover of Dragon Con has definitely had me wanting more of the world of Nova Honda. Between the enthusiasm from the creators and the first ten-page bite given to us, I cannot wait to have more of this high energy, bad bitches on bikes book in my life.

As for the badges, I don’t know who was more excited: Tarr for seeing her art everywhere or me telling strangers about Tarr and Motor Crush.

img_1834
Motor Crush comes out December 7 and can be pre-ordered through your local comic shop. (Definitely get on that because as he said on the panel, Stewart is trying to buy a house.)

Around the Tubes

ASBM_Cv1_JrJr_varIt’s a new week and we’ve got more interviews from San Diego Comic-Con and Gen Con coming up!

While you await that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web.

Around the Tubes

The ComiChron – Rebirth helps DC edge past Marvel in July 2016; Justice League tops charts in $50.5 million month – Some more details on July’s sales.

Kotaku – Now This Is A Good Transformers Movie  – Yes, much better than expected.

Talking Comics – Some Musings on Miracleman – What do you all think?

The Beat – Dragon Con announces its first nominee slate for the Dragon Awards – Congrats to all!

 

Around the Tubes Reviews

Talking Comics – All-Star Batman #1

Talking Comics – All of This Will Crumble

Talking Comics – Black Monday Murders #1

Marvel and Disney Threaten to Boycott Georgia, Plus Dragon Con’s Statement

walt disney marval headerCurrently Georgia is debating HB 757, the “Preservation of Religious Freedom Act,” the latest piece of legislation that “defends religion” while really just legalizing discrimination against gay people or others protected by civil rights laws. The legislation gives individuals a pass to deny service based on their religious beliefs. This is beyond business owners, but a pharmacist can deny medicine, a police officer can refuse to intervene, doctors could refuse medical care if you don’t adhere to their religious beliefs.

The legislation original was a measure to protect pastors who refused to perform same-sex weddings. “Extra protections” were added allowing for the discrimination by businesses and employees. It passed the Georgia House 104-65 when the “extra protections” were added.

It is currently headed to Governor Nathan Deal’s desk to be signed. The Governor has hinted he would not sign the bill.

Disney and Marvel have confirmed they would no longer film in Georgia if the legislation is passed. In a statement to Polygon a Disney spokesperson said:

Disney and Marvel are inclusive companies, and although we have had great experiences filming in Georgia, we will plan to take our business elsewhere should any legislation allowing discriminatory practices be signed into state law.

Currently the companies are filming Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 in the state, and have previously filmed Ant-Man and Captain America: Civil War there. The Human Rights Campaign has called for Hollywood to pull all production out of the state if it’s passed and the Motion Picture Association of America has called the legislation “discriminatory.”

AMC‘s The Walking Dead is filmed in Georgia, and we have reached out for a statement from the production company. We’ll update this story if we receive a statement.

Similar legislation was passed in Indiana and Gen Con has threatened to leave the state over it. The legislation has since been modified. Dragon Con, a major convention in Georgia, has released a statement concerning the legislation.

Dragon Con is proud of its long history of accepting all fans, no matter who they are today or who they want to be during the convention. Which is why we are closely monitoring the “religious rights” bill just passed by the Georgia Legislature.  As we did in 2015, when a similar bill was considered, Dragon Con’s leadership is working closely with the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Georgia Hotel and Lodging Association, which are actively lobbying against these discriminatory bills, to make our opinion known to Georgia legislators and the governor.

Our position has not changed: Legislation that hurts one of us, hurts all of us.

Unlike some conventions that have their headquarters outside the cities where they operate, Atlanta is the only home Dragon Con has ever had. Our founders and our convention leaders all have deep family roots in the metropolitan area.  Over the last 30 years, we have seen the city change considerably, almost always for the better. We have great faith that our state’s leaders and legislators will, eventually, do the right thing for all Georgians.

Should this bill become law, we will seek written assurances from all of our business partners that they will not participate in any discriminatory behavior on the basis of race, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or any other point of identification.  We have no intention now or in the future of supporting a business partner that discriminates.

Disabled Gamers Among Us: A Look At Gaming Accessibility

AbleGamers Logo

AbleGamers Helps Those In Need.

Twenty percent of the video gaming market is alienated by most AAA titles out there. Twenty percent of the market is unable to play certain games; Not because of money, not because of lack of a console, but because of their accessibility. Twenty percent of gamers out there are disabled in some way.

Disability is anything that could prevent you from being accessible to doing something else. Inability to use a body part is fairly common, whether it’s use of a hand, legs, eyes, but even color blindness and Parkinson’s disease are other fairly common problems. Someone that wears glasses can even be considered disabled. A lot of these make several games out there very difficult for this twenty percent.

Everyone is susceptible to it, even later on in life, as aging can cause problems and disabilities. This is referred to as Temporarily Able Bodied, or TABs, as nearly everyone will eventually have a disability in life. Even minor inconveniences can occur earlier in life. For instance, I suffer from minor “tremors” in my hands that prevent me from playing most First Person Shooter Games on a normal keyboard and mouse. I have to use a controller to sustain my grip, as I have a problem double and triple clicking on a mouse.

I attended a panel on Disability in Gaming at DragonCon (in Atlanta, GA) a few weeks back with a great discussion on this issue. Mark Barlet, President of AbleGamers Foundation, was on the panel to discuss what they have been doing to help disabled gamers from a developer angle. Liz Prasad and Ben Jacobs from Tools For Life (at Georgia Tech) discussed the accommodations of proper tools and devices to help disabled gamers enjoy more games, where Laura Levy of Georgia Tech’s Psychology Department discussed the economics of need for this to be a pushed issue. Also in attendance, Chris Larson (Executive Producer at Hi-Rez Studios) and Daniel Fishman (Game Designer at Hi-Rez Studios) discussed their game SMITE and all of the accessibility features they bring to the table.

Mark (of AbleGamers) spends a lot of his time pairing up with developers of video games, discussing how the developers and publishers can maximize their market share among that percentage, as accessibility starts with software and development. Laura Levy agreed that there has to be a market need and necessity for disabled gamers to enjoy games the same way able-bodied gamers can, but it has to be cost effective. The problem with catering to disability is whether it’s profitable or not. If the developer loses money in the process, they would be less inclined to do it.

On the opposite end of the discussion, Chris and Daniel (of Hi-Rez Studios) discussed their newest game, SMITE. SMITE is a MOBA-style game, similar to League of Legends and DOTA 2, that utilizes deities and gods from all different religions and faiths; So, a match featuring Zeus, Odin, and Ra would be fairly common in this game. SMITE features several functions that would cater to disability and accessibility. Chris explained he is color blind, and this can prove to be disastrous in a game like SMITE. Allies’ tags are colored green, where enemies are colored red, which makes it very difficult to play for someone with this quirk. A special screen overlay is available for their game that caters to color blindness, boosting colors and hues, helping visibility.

Not all of their accessibility tools cater only to disability. Many gamers want the option to re-map their controls or change the heads-up display or mini-map. SMITE allows for these functions, and many games out there are following suit. Customization is key among all gamers, not just those with special needs. Closed Captioning is really for the hard of hearing and language barriers, but many gamers utilize it as subtitles for everyday use. SMITE, among many others, allow for a mini-map to become larger, or move to a different part of the HUD.

Liz and Ben (of Tools For Life) discussed devices and options that can be used to help aid against the problems disabled gamers face. Several manufacturers cater to this market, such as Evil Controllers and the Quad Stick. Sony’s own Playstation 4 now even gives accessibility options, such as remapping buttons. Left-handed mice are available from Razer and Corsair, for those that need it. They discussed other thoughts on virtual reality, such as the Oculus VR and even Google Cardboard. Haptics and feedback can be paired with touch screens and tablets, or even the virtual reality, to immerse both able-bodied and disabled gamers alike.

Mark Barlet, President of AbleGamers

Mark Barlet, President of AbleGamers

Mark’s non-profit company, AbleGamers Foundation, helps find other ways for disability and inconvenience. When asked what impact the AbleGamers has really had, Mark responded, “Before we came along, no one was really putting any real world work into these challenges. It was all academic and rarely made it out of the classroom.” He explained that he helps to make sure the structure and groundwork within games allows for more players with disabilities to enjoy these games just as much as an able-bodied person can. Mark also pointed out there is a 48-page document, written by AbleGamers, readily available for free, called Includification.com, that game developers can use to make their games more accessible (or as he puts it, “a total guide for how to include more people.”). “It is easy to include basic accessibility,” he added. “Just do good game design.”

Those with disability can request a grant to help them obtain tools to make their lives better from AbleGamers’ website, ablegamers.com, or if you are not approved for the grant, they can get you in contact with the manufacturers and vendors that sell the peripherals to help better your life. The AbleGamers Fellowship, on the other hand, is a new cause that awards two $10K scholarships to disabled gamers in need. The resources are there.

Twenty percent of the gaming market can’t play many of new games out there. That twenty percent would really like to, though. Accessibility is a need and necessity in this day and age that developers need to stop avoiding.

Help Identify a Person of Interest in Dragon Con Assault

635772389215854080-DragonConWe’re helping put out the alert that Atlanta Police need help identifying a man who may be connected to a sexual assault at Dragon Con which took place in Atlanta, Georgia this past weekend.

The assault occurred early Sunday “

Dragon Con

Their statement said:

(via 11 Alive and AJC)

« Older Entries