Third Party Access

We understand that you do not want people to cheat in your game; you want the gamer to enjoy the game as you intended. However, the common strategy of blocking any non-standard input devices besides the mouse and keyboard, will also make it impossible for many gamers with mobility disabilities to play your game. The ability to use third-party devices and assistive technology, like the default on-screen keyboard installed on all Windows PC’s, and gaming peripherals is critical. 

In situations where technologies, such as Game Guard, block any third-party application or hardware from accessing the game it is designed to protect, it prevents people from being able to use the very technology they have become dependent upon in order to use their computer and play games. 

When developers use Game Guard to ‘protect’ their game, the software prevents the use of on-screen keyboards and head-mice and everything else, virtually locking out anyone who could not use a standard keyboard and mouse. Aion from NCSoft is an example of a game that is problematic for this reason.

 

There are viable alternatives to protecting your game, such as Battlefield 3’s “Punk Buster” and Blizzard’s “Sentinel” program, that search out cheating in the game without interfering with assistive technology. 

It is important for developers and publishers to be careful when choosing the proper scheme to watch over their games and/or DRM. If every guideline in this paper is followed, but the wrong protection software is included, then your work implementing other parts of this document will be for naught.

Examples

A gamer who was in an car accident and now has no use of her limbs. She uses head-tracking software and an on-screen keyboard with dwell technology--software that allows the mouse cursor to hover over a graphical display of the keyboard, which presses the key the mouse is hovering over after a predetermined amount of time. This allows for her to point the mouse with her head onto a software representation of the keyboard. By hesitating the pointer over the corresponding key for long enough, the key is pressed. It is a slow way to type, but from her perspective, it is the only way she has. She is very proficient at this, and this combination of technology means she is able to play certain games to her heart’s content.