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The UK’s First Video Gaming Centre for Those with Disabilities Opens

The UK’s first fully accessible Video Gaming Visitor Centre for gamers with disabilities has been opened by Prime Minister David Cameron, in his Oxfordshire constituency.

The video gaming charity, SpecialEffect, works with young people with disabilities focusing on handicapped gamers, who form a growing proportion of the gaming community.  The Centre is the first of its kind in the UK and has been created by the charity to enhance the lives of those in the handicapped gaming community.
Giving access video games and leisure technology, the centre is also a hub for SpecialEffect to develop video games for people in the local area and across the UK.

The Centre has a GamesLab where they test games and hardware for accessibility enabling young people to try out games.

Advanced Technology

Giving those with disabilities a place to experience top of the range technology, the Video Gaming Centre has specialist technology that allows players who are paralysed to operate computers just by moving their heads.

They even have eye controlled computer systems allowing game players who may have restricted movement the opportunity to play a variety of games and creative activities such as music.

“The work of SpecialEffect brings together three things that I am passionate about: helping those with disabilities, the innovative use of technology and corporate social responsibility,” said the Prime Minister, David Cameron, MP for Whitney, Oxfordshire when opening the Centre.“This new centre will enhance the quality of life for some of the most severely disabled people across the UK.”

Special Effect opened its doors in 2008 and has since then worked closely with the UK video gaming industry combining innovative technology and helping those with disabilities.

“The video games industry often wrongly gets a bad rap. However, video games can have many positive social, cultural and health benefits and the work of SpecialEffect shows just a small part of the good work the video games industry does to improve people’s lives,” said Andy Payne, Chairman of GamesAid and Chairman of UKIE, The UK Association for Interactive Entertainment.

In the US there are an estimated 33 million gamers with a disability and while gamers with a disability only form a small proportion of all gamers in the UK, they are growing in number. There are a number of considerations developers need to take into account when creating games for those with disability, including special colour blind features and increased flexibility for those who may be partially immobile.