AudioQuake and the Level Description Language were successful experiments started in 2003 to see if it was possible to make a mainstream First-person Shooter (FPS) accessible to blind and vision-impaired gamers. We sought to afford access not only to the game, but also to the surrounding community of modding and even the creation of new levels (“maps”).
These aims were realised, with the help of the community during 2003, when we focussed on single-player and 2004, when the first networked accessible deathmatches were played and user-made mods were debuted. Level Description Language (LDL), which allows blind people to architect 3D maps, was released in 2008.
Whilst the original Quake game is no longer mainstream, the experiment was successful (in that a number of single-player maps and many deathmatch maps are accessible, and blind gamers have created additional mods and maps for the game) and the lessons learnt apply equally well to modern FPSs. Also, we developed some accessibility techniques we’d like to share and that we’d be delighted if others might adopt for their own projects; particularly the Level Description Language as this empowers blind gamers (and its present “90-degree expressiveness” limitation is due only to a lack of advanced geometry on our part).
AGRIP stands for “Accessible Gaming Rendering Independence Possible”. For more information and links to academic research papers, visit http://agrip.org.uk.