Thoughts from a (girl) Gamer

Tara Voelker's thoughts. A lot about video games, a little about life

Category Archives: GDC Diary

No More Excuses, Your Guide to Accessible Design – SLIDES

Hi All!

I had a couple people ask me about my slides from my session SO HERE THEY ARE. Update: My talk is now on the vault for free so I’ve added a link to that!

Slides linked as a PDF here – Voelker_Tara_NoMoreExcuses

GDC Vault –

If you’re interested in the notes, you can also open the presentation via this link to view them via Google slides:

I do want to make it clear that I hadn’t ever intended for my notes to be public, so have fun looking at all of the typos.

The panel I was on was also added to the vault for free!

Thanks everyone!


Me, Accessibility and GDC 2015

Game Accessibility will have 3 presentations this year at GDC, and I’m proud that to say that I am going to be talking at 2 of them, and involved in the 3rd, which is the IGDA SIG Roundtable. Info on the talks I’m in below. Both of my talks are listed under advocacy, so all passes can attend. Hope to see you there!

No More Excuses, Your Guide to Accessible Design

  • Tara Voelker  |  QA Lead, Ready at Dawn
  • Location:  Room 304, South Hall
  • Date:  Friday, March 6
  • Time:  3:00pm – 4:00pm
  • Format: Session
  • Track: Advocacy, Design

Game accessibility isn’t just something for a small portion of your target audience, but a tool that can be used to improve your title and directly impact more than 20% of the people playing your game while improving your title over all. In this session, we’ll start with a crash course on how to think about disabilities, learn more about this 20%, provide a list features to improve your title from leading game accessibility groups, get in depth design tutorials to get the most bang for your buck, and point you to the resources you’ll need to keep going once you leave this talk.


Attendees will learn how to think about gamers with disabilities, how accessibility affects the overall title, the most requested game accessibility features, and how to build a system that works to address gamer’s with disabilities needs without alienating their core audience or risking their certification.

Intended Audience

Gameplay, UI, and system designers, design instructors, as well as anyone with interest in the field of game accessibility whether wanting to learn more about the topic or become an advocate on the subject.

Building a Manifesto for Game Accessibility

  • Thomas Westin  |  Ph.D. Student, Stockholm University
    Ian Hamilton  |  Accessibility Specialist, Ian Hamilton DC
    Tara Voelker  |  QA Lead, Ready at Dawn
    Michelle Hinn  |  Accessibility and Usability Games Consultant, Michelle Hinn, LLC
    Richard Van Tol  |  Ph.D. Student, HKU University of the Arts Utrecht
  • Location:  Room 130, North Hall
  • Date:  Thursday, March 5
  • Time:  10:00am – 11:00am
  • Format: Session
  • Track: Advocacy

In the ten years that the IGDA’s accessibility group has been running we have seen many advances in the field, with awareness growing, and more and more developers considering accessibility for gamers with disabilities. But there’s a long way to go, with work still needed to remove barriers in areas such as hardware, software, third party tools, online communities, education and policy. We will be taking a retrospective of some of the key achievements and developments over the past ten years, and with your input, also look at the next important areas to focus on, providing a roadmap of how all of us can help the industry move towards greater inclusion, allowing the entertainment and quality of life benefits of gaming to reach even wider audiences.


An understanding of some of the history of accessibility and the key events that have taken us to where we currently are, and also a clear picture of some of the actions and advocacy activities that anyone can take to support the industry towards greater levels of inclusion.

Intended Audience

Anyone with an interest in the field of accessibility for gamers with disabilities, who wants to either learn more, help to advance the field, or take part in shaping the discussion. Attendees either with or without previous experience will find something valuable in the content.

Day 1 of GDC 2011


After a day of horrible flights (including and awesome 5 hour layover in LA – never fly united), making new friends in the terminal and a very awkward laid out hotel, I’m finally here.

Also, thank god for speaker’s registration. While the normal line is literally out the door, I’m already inside. 🙂

So, most posts will likely be from my phone. Sorry they’re short.

Here we go! 

GDC Diary 2/25/11

Well, yesterday I listed off the very long list of things I needed to get done before heading off to GDC. Guess how many of those things got done?

1 of them.

So yesterday was the launch of the space Shuttle Discovery. It was the ship’s last mission and it’s the oldest ship in the NASA fleet.  Because of that, there was something insane like 40,000 people flocking to the Cape Canaveral/ Cocoa Beach area. I work in Merrit Island. Here’s a reference image.

So, as you may notice- all traffic goes write by my work on the way to the beach. Also, that road, 520, is the road everyone takes to get back to Orlando. Myself included. So my 45 minute drive home from work turned into a 2 1/2 hour ride home from work after I already stayed at work over an hour late.

That sucked. Although I did get this cool video:

Discovery taking off, as seen by everyone at Firebrand Games (where I work). Looks a lot bigger in person. We could hear it, but you can’t hear it in the video over the wind.

Anyway, so that only that got finished was my business card design, which I like a lot. After I get them printed I will take a picture of one so you can see it. Hopefully things will be a little more productive today. Although I doubt it. I will likely just throw in laundry and go out drinking and cram everything in tomorrow instead.

The Beginning of my GDC Diary

Good morning everyone.

So, here I am. It’s Thursday. That’s three days before I fly out to California for this year’s GDC and get ready to speak there again. And once again, I feel like I’m totally not ready.

I’ve had so much going on this week. So, in addition to having some minor crunch on one of my projects at work (I’m currently working on 3 different titles), I’ve also had to find the time to get fitting for my wedding dress, write an article and two bios for the IGDA (International Game Developers Association) March newsletter, update information on the IGDA  Game Accessibility SIG website, just do sort of GA SIG chair duties anyway, get a head shot taken for the newsletter, work with my fiance to design my kick ass business cards, get my hair redyed, go shopping, talk to the wedding caterer, register for the wedding since people insist on giving me gifts instead of cash … find time to think…pack, do laundry, register for parties and somewhere in there I should probably right some sort of rough outline for my actual round table at GDC. And honestly, at this rate I will be doing that one the plane out there.

Obviously,  I don’t have all of those things done yet.  I have until Saturday night to do them I all. I fly out of Orlando at like the crack of dawn on Sunday.

It’s going to be an adventure. I’m just hoping that all of my flights go smoothly and I don’t get stranded some where like last year. You know- when I got stuck in O’Hare for most of the day and ended up posting pictures of the jalapeno burger I got from the in airport Chili’s.

Either way, I’ve got everything set up from my phone so hopefully I can keep giving up constant updates. Versus last year, where I could only post when I was using my lap top that I didn’t always bring with me… which resulted in me posting very little and getting a lot of questions about where all the stuff I promised about GDC was. I didn’t even post a picture of me presenting. Although Gamespot did a full article on me, so I guess that sort of balances.

So here’s to the start of this year’s adventure – the Game Developers Conference 2011


Oh, and remember… there will also be stuff on the Facebook page and you can always follow me on twitter @TheGirlGamers