Catching up and accessibility from EA?

Blog? Oh yeah, I have one. well I’ve got an excess of energy to burn today so I figured I should catch up real fast. Let’s do two things: What I’ve been doing and an article on accessibility from a source I never would have expected that I read just an hour or two ago while trying to distract myself from my own brain.

Personal Development

I’ve been working in React a lot more lately – refactoring my fishtank (conditional rendering!) and writing a probability calculator app. It’s still unfinished but I’ve got a pretty concrete set of goals that I’m well on my way to solving. I knew this app would be taking me into some uncharted territory in terms of react component state manipulation, so I got out the nice pens and my sketchbook and outlined the whole thing in terms of layout and concrete development goals I needed to achieve as well as some psuedocode on how it’d function. For those willing to try and decipher my scribbles,

captures from my sketchbook about the RNG calculator
RNG Calculator Sketchbook

These are all part of my sketches on what I call the “determine” section – where you have known odds in fractions and want a set of final percentage odds. For example the odds of rolling a 1/2 followed by a 1/24 chance is, in total, about 2.08%. I knew I wanted the user to be able to put in multiple fractions, to have it displayed so they know what’s being calculated, and – this is still what I’m working on – letting them remove an entry they don’t want for whatever reason before calculating.

Here’s the progress so far on the app:

RNG Calculator Example
RNG Calculator Example

I want any user to be able to take RNG events where they know some of the information – either drop rates or drop tables – and figure out how many attempts it will take for them to succeed.

To me, part of the problem with RNG is that random chance is very alien to how the human brain functions, and being able to put that in concrete terms may help with understanding why RNGs are so frequently frustrating. It certainly does for me anyway! Knowing I have x chances at y odds is not something I can really take to heart – what’s my total odds of success? Well, as seen in the example image, 9 chances at 2.08% odds is about 17.236% total odds. That I can work with in terms of managing expectations.

Longer term, maybe one day better awareness will lead to different solutions, as tantalizingly easy as Math.random() or similar can be.Ā  But perhaps that’s a little outside the scope of an RNG calculator …today, anyway šŸ˜‰

Accessibility from Electronic Arts?

But what really got me to sit down and write this post out? I just read an article which floored me.Ā  Absolutely fascinatingĀ and from a source I never expected. Electronic Arts – yes, the EA with the reputation of hazardous waste right now – not only had someone think about making their games more accessible to the blind, they responded to a request about it and actually funded a position, supported their conclusions, and put it in their development process going forward.

Ask me if I’d ever thought about how Madden could be played by the blind and I’d say no – but do they deserve the opportunity, absolutely yes. The key takeaway from that article for me isn’t that they just did it as a one-off, it’s that EA is integrating it into the development process. From the article,

This kind of accessibility is now an integrated part of the EA Sport design pipeline, and the company maintains a dialogue with blind players about their needs.

Assuming words and deeds match up, that’s an impressive commitment. Removing unconscious assumptions from the design process makes for better design, and when that design opens new avenues for users to interact with and enjoy your product? Even better. Without trying to take away from a genuine success, I’m hoping sometime soon I’ll be reading about an EA developer who asked themselves “Okay, we did that, but how can we reach out to even more people?”