As some of you might have noticed the mobility reviews are coming very late compared to how they used to be and someone told me it could be good to explain why. Reviewing is very different to just playing. This is how it goes for me:
- Step 1: Prepare a profile in my voice software to take screenshots and avoid getting stuck in a menu because I need to press Escape or any other key I can’t reach. This is an accessibility issue too.
- Step 2: Take screenshots of every menu and option, including all the different values for each setting. In most games that means around 100+ shots, some up to 200+. That takes time but it’s necessary to know all the possibilities I must try and helps me remember when writing the review later.
- Step 3: Set up the game, especially the controls. All toggles on and my keybinds because if these are wrong I can’t play so no review. I set my usual ones that will most likely require tweaking because every game mechanics are different.
- Step 4: Play the game. I play until I have a basic knowledge of the general gameplay, get exhausted or I hit an accessibility barrier that I can’t bypass with the in-game options. In the meantime take screenshots showing the mechanics and the barriers found to help illustrate them in the review. Then I tweak my keys, take a new screenshot of my new “definitive” keys for Step 5 and exit the game.
- Step 5: Create and tweak a profile for this specific game in my voice software. This takes time, as I need to have the minimum number of commands and use words that won’t sound similar at all for each one. In some cases also use my keyboard software to remap keys the game won’t allow me to. Escape and Tab are the usual suspects here.
Repeat steps 4 and 5 as much as I can / need.
- Step 6: Once I have all the information, write the review using on-screen keyboard. This is slow, tiresome and ineffective but voice dictation doesn’t work for me due to my voice not being really stable. My reviews are quite long because when dealing with mobility there is a lot to cover and explain. I want to give as much information as possible to consumers so you know exactly what to expect and see if the game is accessible to you. Also, I want the review to be useful to the developers, by encouraging them for doing what works and telling them what is needed so they can learn and hopefully fix the issues. Writing and editing takes me from 2 days to weeks recently.
This process is exhausting and sometimes stressing especially when you can’t play the game because it’s very inaccessible. If I take too long, the review loses importance but my strength and time are very limited. My condition is progressive so time is short and getting too tired goes against my condition, causing faster degradation of my physical health, which results in stress. The stress gets worse when you feel you are not progressing with the review, so you go back to playing for the review and it becomes a vicious cycle.
This is why starting today my reviews will be posted gradually. Once I’ve completed a section it will be posted and as I can keep adding the rest of the content I will update it and keep informing of the updates here until it’s done. It’s not an easy choice and certainly not how I wanted it but it’s the only option I have.
Anthony Martins is 42 and has been a gamer his whole life. He has SMA Type 2 and can be found on Twitter at @Black1976
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