My Journey with AbleGamers APX Training by Sabarish Chandramouli
Sabarish Chandramouli, one of our studio's talented engineers, shares his inspiring journey through his experience with AbleGamers APX Training. As he delves into the world of accessible gaming, Sabarish discovers the transformative power of technology in breaking down barriers and creating inclusivity for gamers of all abilities. Through a newfound perspective, he shares the profound impact that the program has had on his own approach to game development and his understanding of the importance of accessible gaming for everyone.
My name is Sabarish Chandramouli, I’m a Lead Engineer on the Gameplay team at Treyarch. I’ve been with the studio for a bit longer than 9 years, and during that time I’ve worked on a lot of different projects and systems. Growing up, I was always into reading fiction, and I’ve even dabbled in writing them, but I quickly came to realize that developing games felt like the next step in interactive storytelling. It allowed players to tell their own stories, which was something no medium had done before. This pushed me to get into computer science so I could find a career in games.
I grew up in India, and I consider myself privileged. I never had any disabilities growing up that hindered my gaming experiences. When I was a kid, my parents would sometimes take me to institutes for people with cognitive and mental disabilities to do food or clothing donations. I never thought about it much back then, but I figure it did instill a sense of wanting to give back to communities.
The Able Gamers workshop was honestly fascinating and inspiring. It energized me and got me passionate about gaming ideas in a way I hadn’t ever considered before. My biggest takeaway was the fact that designing accessible games isn’t just to enable players with disabilities. It makes the game a more enjoyable and inclusive experience for those that don’t have any acknowledged disabilities at all. This core philosophy was hammered home by something they call the APX accessible design patterns. These work to remove inhibitors to players being able to ‘access’ a game, and it allows players to take on as much ‘challenge’ as they think is comfortable for them. The important thing to realize is that these principles do not necessarily have to modify the core vision a team has for a game. It’s all about removing barriers so players can have the experiences we sought out to create. Players with disabilities want to have the same experiences that any other players have with a game, and following these design patterns empowers them to feel that just like anyone else. Virtual worlds are a great level playing ground, which is something the physical world isn’t always.
Coincidentally, a few days after attending the workshop, I met someone with visual impairments at an airport. We got around to talking about videogames, and he got excited when he learnt I worked at Call of Duty. He mentioned to me that he is a certified shooter, a member of the coast guard, a lawyer, and a skydiver, but the one thing that he cannot do yet but would like to do is experience our game. That was honestly quite touching and inspiring, and it hit home harder since I’d just finished the workshop.
The program was eye-opening and energizing. I’m buzzing with ideas on how we can grow our community to be more inclusive than it ever has been before. I’d highly recommend this program to anyone that is interested in learning more about building accessible games.