Thoughts from a (girl) Gamer

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

Tag Archives: GDC

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.

Let’s talk 3DS – Part 1

We all already knew that I was going to be buying a 3DS. As a Zelda fanboy, I’m pretty much required by law to play the Ocarina of Time remake, and it’s as simple as that. And that’s why up until GDC I felt very much felt obligated to buy the 3DS, and much less wanting to buy the 3DS of my own free will. I was almost resenting Nintendo for remaking Ocarina of Time, because now I was going to drop a large sum of money on a hand held system that I wasn’t even sure I was going to be using outside of Zelda and the Resident Evil title.

And then came GDC.

My excitement for the 3DS started during the keynote speech when Reggie Fils-Aime, President of Nintendo of America, began speaking about the 3DS. I’m going to spare you from having to watch him talk. Although the content is great, he’s kind of boring to listen to. So, here are the highlights on what he said about the 3DS.

The 3DS is going to have:

  • Netflix streaming. Pretty Self Explanatory. And Awesome. Portable Netflix.
  • 3D Movie Trailors – See the Green Lantern Trailor? Wanna see it again in 3D on your 3DS? You can do that.
  • 3D Picture Capture – Take pictures in 3D using your 3DS
  • 3D Video Capture – Take 3D videos using your 3DS
  • 10, 000 Wifi Hotspots- Nintendo is parting with AT&T to bring you hotspots at locations INCLUDING AIRPORTS. You get special content via the hotspots, you automatically connect, and everything downloads in the background.
  • eShop- Online shop. Also, contains everything from DSiware, and features virtual console games (gameboy, gameboy color), remastered old games in full 3D
  • Transfer your current DSi games- so you don’t have to rebuy them
  • Browser
  • Awesome titles, and looks of cool stuff that can be beneficial to devs and helps the player connect to more interesting game titles

After hearing all of these I believe I simply tweeted “Damn you, Nintendo.”

Now, all of that was pretty cool. But some of those things were awesome. Like the Netflix streaming. Awesome. I’m a Netflix junkie. And now, my insanely massive instant queue can go with me where ever I want. Netflix in my purse. Love it. I’m also in love with the idea of the 3D remakes (now I am I mean, I still wasn’t completely sold during the speech on the 3D remakes but later I became convinced so keep reading) and the virtual console (POKEMON BLUE AND RED ANYONE?!).

So, after hearing the keynote I was feeling a lot less obligated to buy the 3DS and a lot more interested in buying the 3DS. However, I still wasn’t jumping for the joy of the 3Ds. I wasn’t ready for that commitment. But I was a lot more open to it. I still wanted to actually play with one, experience one. I had a lot of worries about the 3DS – the largest being afraid that the 3D would give me a head ache if I played for more than 10 minutes. How would they new joystick thing work? Was this 3D actually going to be beneficial to these titles?

Excited to learn more, I went to the Nintendo booth on the expo floor.

And that’s when you’ll have to wait for part 2, where I talk about the 3Ds itself was well as games I played, including The Ocarina of Time remake, Resident Evil Mercenaries, and Street Fighter 4.


Peace out!

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.

GameSpot Covers Tara at GDC

I know that this is old now… but better late than never!

GameSpot covered my session at GDC…

“Conventional controllers, like those found on the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3, work if you have the mobility to use them. For those unable to maneuver joysticks or reach out of the way buttons, gaming turns into a MacGyver-esque learning experience. Tara Lynn Tefertiller, an accessibility advocate, came to GDC 2010 to demonstrate a few of the ways disabled gamers have had to improvise with controllers to play their favorite games.”

Read the rest and check out some pictures here!

GDC Update 2

Mostly slow day for me, not much I was interested in seeing… big stuff starts Thursday. More videos to come.

And here is the controller I showed quickly in the video.I didn’t mean to cut Cammi out of the picture… she was on the far right.

GDC Update 1

At first I was upset that I forgot my camera cord… but then I remembered my new computer had a SD slot so everything was awesome.

Now, I’m taking videos through out the day, but I don’t have time to sit down and upload them… so yeah. Later today (in the evening while I go out to dinner or something) I will get them all uploaded for you.

Peace out guys!


And so it begins

Good morning everyone!

It’s time for my first day of GDC. I’m off to pick up my speakers pass and then his up some work shop things. I really have no idea which ones I want to hit up. I will most likely pick up the pass and see what time it is and go from there. Of course I will be having notes of all sessions I attended and maybe even some audio (I did bring a long a little digital recorder). Alright, and I’m off!