|Charles Town, WV|
|Tom Clancy's The Division, Rocket League, Stardew Valley, Various|
The AbleGamers Foundation, also known as AbleGamers Charity, is a 501(C)(3) nonprofit public charity that aims to improve the overall quality of life for those with disabilities through the power of video games.
Video games allow individuals with disabilities to experience situations that may be difficult or limited in the real world, provide social networking opportunities to maintain mental and emotional health, and participate in one of the world’s largest pastimes.
Adapted from http://www.ablegamers.com/about-us, check out their site to learn more!
Interview with Mark Barlet
- What is AbleGamers?
- The AbleGamers Charity, is a 501(C)(3) nonprofit public charity that improves the overall quality of life for those with disabilities through the power of video games.
- What prompted the creation of AbleGamers?
- AbleGamers was started to fill a need in the disability community to find ways to play games around the challenges being disabled presents. After Stephanie Walker, Mark's adoptive sister, suffered an attack from multiple sclerosis (unable to use her hands to operate a mouse, Mark set out to find information that could help her continue to game. Mark scoured the Internet. There was no information to be found. Fortunately Stephanie’s abilities returned, but Mark decided that there should be a place gamers with disabilities could go to find ways around the challenges of everyday disabilities, including those with neurological conditions that may flare up or get worse over time. And thus AbleGamers was born to fill that void and ensure no one would go through the terror of losing the ability to game, alone.
- How does AbleGamers help gamers with disabilities?
- AbleGamers helps gamers with disabilities in many ways. First, we raise funds to afford grants of expensive and often customized gaming technology that enables people with disabilities to continue to game despite their particular set of challenges. We also offer consultation at no cost to those with disabilities to determine what equipment would be appropriate for each individual on a case-by-case basis.
- Second, we reach out to game developers and publishers, educating them on the best ways to design videogames while being as inclusive as possible. We do that by maintaining a practical set of game accessibility guidelines called Includification, which is a 48 page roadmap for good game design. We also offer consultation to developers and publishers at no cost, enabling gamers with disabilities to play the games they love via included accessibility options that do not interfere with gameplay in any way.
- In addition to this, we recently started a new initiative to give scholarships and mentorships to gamers with disabilities called the AbleGamers Fellowship. This initiative will ensure that people who have disabilities are included in the workforce and are able to help affect change from within. We anticipate, with the help of our partners like Trion Worlds, Motiga, IGDA, and many more, we’ll be able to help get people with disabilities employed in all of the major gaming publishers within the next decade.
- Third, AbleGamers holds the largest community online for gamers with disabilities. We do reviews of popular video games to determine the accessibility and what types of disabilities would be challenging to each individual game. This is an effort to stop people with disabilities from purchasing games that they will be unable to play right out-of-the-box.
- How did Minethon get started?
- MineThon was founded by Ethan Smith in 2011 after being inspired by the Mario Marathon. To date, the MineThon volunteers have raised more than $45,000 for the charity. MineThon is an annual Minecraft charity stream that raises donations for AbleGamers.
- Why a 48-hour Minecraft stream?
- MineThon spans multiple days to allow for an audience across the world to donate and hear about the work AbleGamers does.
- What accessibility options does Minecraft have for disabled gamers?
- Minecraft has several built-in accessibility features, including the ability to turn off PvP and PvE, so that gamers are able to build in a safe sandbox, at their own rate, without any danger of the frustrations of being killed or their progress destroyed.
- Also, the community has made amazing mods for the game enabling fascinating accessibility options such as using voice commands. And we have been able to successfully make Minecraft work in our laboratories using only eye-gaze technology.
- What other games have a wide variety of accessibility options?
- There are a number of games that have varieties of accessibility options. AbleGamers has had the pleasure of working with almost every publisher and development studio in the industry. We’ve been able to help Blizzard add accessibility to World of Warcraft, Harmonix with Rock Band, BioWare with Warhammer online, BioShock, and Dragon age, and the list goes on. We’re seeing accessibility options and the influences of Includification all over the industry from call of duty to sometimes always monsters to GTA V.
- What are some different ways gamers can help support the charity?
- There are a number of ways that gamers can support AbleGamers and gamers with disabilities. Streaming brings awareness to the cause, as well as helping with funding grant requests. Volunteering to help work at conventions and other public events. And even just telling their friends and families about AbleGamers and how important it is to support those with special needs is a big help.
- Funding is always appreciated, and all donations are tax-deductible. No donation is too small.
- What other AbleGamers fundraising events should gamers look out for in the future?
- AbleGamers fundraising events are happening all the time, either internal or created by the gaming community in general. The best way to find out about events would be to Follow us on Twitch, Follow us on Twitter and check out the upcoming calendar of events.
- As of September 9, AbleGamers has raised more than $350,000 in 2015 to support their mission