October 15, 2020
Leading the Push for Accessibility
This week we’re looking into accessibility in racing games for the disabled with Hichem Nagard, plus welcome our new Rival’s page, and we say farewell to Legends of the Track.
Hichem Nagard, who lives near Le Mans, was born without mobility in both hands. His determination to get into gaming and a love of motorsport, however, has seen him embark on a three-decade-long quest to find workable around his disability.
Hichem is now an advocate and major influencer for accessibility in video game for fully disabled players as well as those with limited or impacted mobility. He is also an ambassador-player for the Handigamers Association that was founded by his friend David Combarieu and that works to create unique controllers for players with physical disabilities: you can read more about that important work here: http://handigamer.fr
Along with his dad, Hichem has created a series of adaptive controllers that allow him to fully immersive himself in video games such as Project CARS 3.
The current adaptive controller Hichem is using allows him to compete and race using only his feet, an athletic activity that calls for a unique set of skills and dexterity. You can watch him in action in this video that he was kind enough to make especially for this blog.
His YouTube channel also offers a fascinating glimpse into his drive to highlight the need for accessibility in video games: http://youtube.com/c/djhofficiel
His solutions have allowed him to take an active role in offering advice and feedback on issues of accessibility to gaming studios around the world, and we managed to get some time for a quick chat about all things racing and accessibility.
Q: You’re an important voice for video game accessibility. Can you describe how the racing genre works for racers with disabilities and the challenges you experience?
A: First of all, I want to sincerely thank your entire studio team for wanting to take an interest in passionate players like me, despite our physical disabilities. Being a person affected by a physical handicap, I know that each disabled player has his or her own personalized configuration, and it’s true that handicapped players are more at home playing your racing games.
Q: Your dad created the adaptive controller you’re using to race. Can you describe how it works, how long it took to create, and what the motivation was?
A: Since childhood, I have always dreamed of being able to play regular video games. Because of a birth condition, I never had full use of my two hands. Knowing of my dream, my dad spent decades thinking and finding solutions to create custom-made controllers for my disability. Inspired by the arcade controllers that have been around for several years, my dad created an Xbox arcade-style controller especially adapted for my feet.
The original design featured some wooden planks to create the arcade controller box, and we then added arcade buttons plus joysticks, and we connected all that to the Xbox controller motherboard.
A few months ago, my father created a second arcade controller, again adapted for my handicap, but this time, he connected the branches directly to the new adaptive Xbox controller on the Microsoft box.
Getting to this stage took many years of hard work and experimentation—almost 30 years! Thirty years ago, there was no suitable controller for disabled players, and it really is down to my dad that I now have suitable equipment to play all styles of games.
His design means that my controllers have the same functions as the original Xbox controller, including the joysticks.
Q: Tell us a bit about your advocacy and how that works with gaming studios?
A: I’m doing demo videos on my YouTube channel so I can show game developers how to improve the accessibility of their video games. I show my ideas, filming my feet while I play their game. Usually this involved studios allowing me to test their new games via alpha codes.
My goal is to be able to test games and offer feedback to video game developers on how to make their games more accessible for disabled players.
Q: Looking forward, what would you like to see studios focus on to increase accessibility in racing games?
A: It would be interesting and important to integrate voice commands into video games for when the disabled player says certain command words into the microphone. For example: instead of pressing a button to shift gears manually, gear shifts could happen by voice activation instead. I believe it would be beneficial to add several commands to better help the disabled player.
Q: What’s your favourite car and track combo in Project CARS 3 and why?
A: My favorite car and track combo? I invite you to watch my new video of your game that I uploaded especially for your studio team on my YouTube channel! But for sure my favourite brands in-game are the Porsche and Ferrari cars.
Our Rivals webpage is up and ready to go. This is your one-stop look at the Rivals leaderboard as well as seeing upcoming challenges. Here you can find the top 3 winners from each league for each Rivals event—Platinimum, Gold 3, Silver 3 and Bronze 3. And don’t forget to take a look at the Track Guide where we’ll give you a hints and tips on how to achieve a quick lap for each Rivals event. You up for the challenge? https://www.projectcarsgame.com/three/rivals
Saying Goodbye to Legends
The era of Hybrid LMP1s will come to an end in November this year as the World Endurance Championship shifts to a new formula for 2021 (the exciting Hypercar Class). Three of this generation’s greatest-ever Hybrids—the Audi R18, Porsche 919 Hybrid, and Toyota TS050—are all in Project CARS 3, so take a moment to celebrate these incredible machines and give them the farewell they deserve.