CVAA Regulations Affecting Multiplayer Chat Just Went Into Effect

Discussion in 'HardForum Tech News' started by AlphaAtlas, Jan 4, 2019.

  1. AlphaAtlas

    AlphaAtlas [H]ard|Gawd Staff Member

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    The International Game Developers Association sent out a notice reminding readers that the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act just went into effect for the gaming industry. The CVAA "requires any communications functionality and any UI used to navigate to or operate it to be accessible to people with a wide range of conditions, from no sight to no color vision, no speech to limited strength," and those considerations must be made early on in development. The CVAA is actually an old law that's aimed at the telecommunications industry, but the FCC has repeatedly given the gaming industry waivers, giving them time to "catch up." That last waiver expired on December 31, 2018, and the restrictions now apply to any game scheduled for release or "substantial updates" after that date. While there are allegedly "accommodations for low budgets," Bioware recently implied that the CVAA may be behind their decision to cut text chat out of Anthem. If EA can't afford to fully deal with the regulations in a high budget title, one has to wonder how smaller multiplayer developers will fare. Thanks to gamesindustry.biz for the tip.

    Compliance includes accommodations for low budgets; the list of criteria specifies that devs must meet the criteria as far as is is achievable, with "achievable" meaning within reasonable cost and effort. Failure to comply can result in customer complaints to the FCC, which the FCC will then mediate, taking into account what efforts have been made and how feasible the issue is to fix. The customer has the right to extend the initial mediation period if they choose. If a satisfactory outcome is not reached, fines may be issued at the FCC's discretion.
     
  2. mkk

    mkk [H]Lite

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    All it takes in most games is a few options in line with the color blindness already available in many products with reasonable UX design.
    Cry about that in any multi million dollar production and we know what to expect of the user interface in general
     
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  3. Unoid

    Unoid [H]ard|Gawd

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    Purposly hindering the majority of others just so those with disablities aren't "left out".

    This is horse shit.

    A best effort to try to include the disabled is a good social justice to strive for, but when you take away from healthy others, it's a net negative.
     
  4. Armenius

    Armenius I Drive Myself to the [H]ospital

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    Yes, because blind people are playing video games, a visual medium. I've been all for games to do what DICE has been doing for years to assist the color blind, and I'm also for having options to scale the UI for those visually impaired, but why must developers make concessions for the blind when they're not going to be able to game in the first place? Talking was never required to be able to play a video game, so I don't know what the "no speech" condition is about.

    As for limited strength, check out this quadriplegic soloing Platinum difficulty in Mass Effect 3 multiplayer.


    Video of the same person first attempting Bronze showing how he does it.
     
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  5. VMaxx

    VMaxx Limp Gawd

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    Ok, so what if you're deaf? How does this help them? You're removing their only communication function for the benefit of another?
     
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  6. stelonous

    stelonous n00b

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    I'm all for companies getting rid of chat because of this. It will drive home the point to the CVAA that they are mentally challenged when they create rules without thinking about the implementation costs and effort.
     
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  7. meme

    meme Limp Gawd

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    Forcing game makers to make their controls configurable is a good idea, as it's very easy for anyone to do and everyone should always do it anyway.

    Forcing game makers to redesign an entire game so that blind people can somehow play Grand Theft Auto would be totally ridiculous.
     
  8. lostinseganet

    lostinseganet [H]ard|Gawd

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    More funding may go into hardware like the emotive epoc headset. It would be cool to merge the tech with VR headsets. Maybe for special techniques.
     
  9. ryno9100

    ryno9100 Limp Gawd

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    More regulation in video games! Just what no one asked for!
     
  10. SomeoneElse

    SomeoneElse [H]ard|Gawd

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    Pointless waste of time and effort. Another useless regulation. Alteration to UI is fine, being that i am color blind (red green deficient) I like being able to change the UI to tell the difference between enemy and friendly.
    To require certain things to be removed or completely overhauled......just no.
    I'm pretty sure those who are blind aren't playing video games.
     
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  11. Lith1um

    Lith1um 2[H]4U

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  12. Lith1um

    Lith1um 2[H]4U

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    Microsoft's Adaptive Controller initiative is a good start on the hardware side.
     
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  13. Armenius

    Armenius I Drive Myself to the [H]ospital

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    This is very perplexing. The regs state that if you have text chat you must have text-to-speech functionality, but it doesn't go the other way. Voice chat doesn't require speech-to-text? I'm pretty certain the deaf can still play video games and enjoy them unlike the blind.
     
  14. Lith1um

    Lith1um 2[H]4U

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    This pretty much reflects the state of congress. A bunch of sheltered millionaires who don't understand technology because everything is done for them every day. They don't know anything, because they don't have to. They probably don't even want to know anymore.
     
  15. SomeoneElse

    SomeoneElse [H]ard|Gawd

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    I would totally agree, I would also use this to create limited terms because they are trying to make laws over things that have passed by their understanding. Fresh views from smarter people would probably be better for the population. Career politicians don't care about anything that deal with tech they don't even use or understand.
     
  16. RanceJustice

    RanceJustice [H]ardness Supreme

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    I think we ought not to to freak out over this. Reading the article, there is nothing saying "You have to make your game totally playable for blind people" or anything like that. It simply says that new or "substantially" updated games must make some effort to accommodate certain elements to those with disabilities, specifically when it comes to communications features. Things like scalable UIs, the various color blindness options, high contrast modes, keybind options etc...all seem like useful accommodations. I'm guessing that platform level (ie consoles, or launchers like Steam etc) features can build in options to make this much easier. I'm curious to what degree such features need to be fully built in, versus simply being compatible with other software or hardware a disabled person may use.

    This is overall probably a non-issue and I'd be very suspicious of any company (especially a big game company) saying "Welp, that's why we nixed feature X" given we've seen all kinds of excuses made in the past that really turned out to be just haste, laziness, money etc... instead of the announced causative factor.. However, as attention to the issue is motivated by customer complaint, I expect that the worst of both "sides" will get involved flinging accusations at each other, spawning clickbait, and general outrage machine tactics.
     
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  17. oROEchimaru

    oROEchimaru [H]ardness Supreme

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    It is super lame blizzard games often do not have voice chat on other systems (diablo on switch etc) .
     
  18. Armenius

    Armenius I Drive Myself to the [H]ospital

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    Right, all of which I have no issue with. The only sticking point is why does text chat require text-to-speech. Developers are nixing text chat or chat altogether because of this spurious requirement. Seems like a major step backward for "accessibility" in this case.
     
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  19. M76

    M76 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Next chapter in 1984: Everyone must submit their newborn for the mandatory cutting off of all limbs, poking their eyes out and blowing their eardrums.

    That's the only way to achieve equality of outcome.
     
  20. B770

    B770 [H]Lite

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    ah fuck, here comes the braille monitor.......
     
  21. Darth Ender

    Darth Ender Limp Gawd

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    This law exists because the free market can ignore the low percentage of the target market who is disabled in whatever way, since they will still make plenty of money on the healthy people.

    It is always going to be some level of burden on a developer to include disabled people unless it's something that specifically they are coding to support from the get-go - regardless of regulations.

    I dont know what the cutoffs are for this law, but if it doesn't apply to free games (not 'free to play' but no paid content at all) then I'm fine. Completely free games should not be forced to adhere to such regulations.

    Though it sounds like it would be rather trivial to comply with these regulations. Text to speach isn't hard. Tagging your text for auto-translation isn't hard (you dont need to actually have the translations done to code in the support for them to be added eventually). Adding some colorblind color swapping options isn't hard (unless your game revolves around specific colors). They're not requiring that you break your game to support massive text sizes for the visually impaired. They're mandating that when an obvious solution exists to support the impaired/disabled, then you should be forced to include it. Since you can't rely on the market to do it on it's own. And you'd have to have someone actually complain who is directly impacted and bring a valid argument in order for the company in question to have to do something they didn't want to do. This isn't like some oversight board that is reviewing every game and deciding on if it complies.
     
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  22. RanceJustice

    RanceJustice [H]ardness Supreme

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    I'd like to see more information on the exact parameters required, as its one thing to say "Try to make your text UI in such a way they'd be compatible with an external text to speech engine/reader", its another entirely to require an full custom internal TTS implementation incoming and outgoing. In addition, I wonder how any text to speech requirement is impacted by the presence or absence of voice comms.
     
  23. maxius

    maxius 2[H]4U

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    This is just a way for devs to have a common base of options to include in games and its a good thing no experience should be off limits to anyone within reason games arent just for chest pounding wanna be Alphas
     
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  24. capt_cope

    capt_cope Gawd

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    I doubt text-to-speech is an issue for any of the developers, but complying with the impaired vision requirements (text must be available to users with visual acuity between 20/70 and 20/200 without relying on audio) might present enough of a design challenge that it's cheaper and easier to just kill off text chat.
     
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  25. Darth Ender

    Darth Ender Limp Gawd

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    that's why this law relies on arbitration and is enforced on a case by case basis after a complaint.

    If someone comes to the FCC (or whoever) and says they can't read the text and they show the panel that they're trying to do something unreasonable, it'll be tossed (wanting to view text at 300+% or so). But if the game for instance, prohibits low resolutions <1080p and no options to change text size at all in what almost always amounts to a standard "chat window" and so the consumer would have to play on a massive monitor to see the text ...then they'd have a case.

    It's not like the panel is going to be a group of disabled people looking to punish every gaming company that comes before it. It's gonna have to have an actual person who has an actual complaint that impacts them directly and they'll have to convince a panel of what will almost certainly be non-disabled people that the company is not utilizing an obvious solution that would allow the disabled person to operate the software. It's not going to require that the developers buy specialized hand-capable hardware unless they want to go that distance to support such hardware. TTS and such support is built in to most modern OS's (linux being open source and flexible probably doesn't install such software by default in every distro, but it's there). There's no need to rewrite your own unless you want to. It shouldn't be much harder than piping the same text you'd pipe to the screen to a support library you linked to at compile time or a helper daemon that the OS has running all the time (if the tts service is active).
     
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  26. jkmetal

    jkmetal Limp Gawd

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    Lets all cry that someone took away a feature of your toy.

    Be fucking grateful you consider yourself among those of the "healthy" others. Consideration for the disabled should only happen when able bodied people find it convenient.

    THAT IS THE HORSE SHIT, you and the others who like this garbage post.
     
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  27. dgz

    dgz [H]ardness Supreme

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    The gorged one does not believe the hungry

    Anyway, the cynical mofo in me says this is meant at data gathering. This is making it so much easier. All you need long term is a transcript. The voice you can delete after some time
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2019
  28. ryno9100

    ryno9100 Limp Gawd

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    The needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many...
     
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  29. umeng2002

    umeng2002 Gawd

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    Too many jokes to make...
     
  30. Darth Ender

    Darth Ender Limp Gawd

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    that quote (the real one) is less about majority rules than it is about social consciousness. Sometimes what benefits the many, involves supporting the few because you can become "the few" in various situations or times of your life, and the security of knowing that you wont be immediately disenfranchised when it happens is better for the entire society than a simple majority rule.

    In this case, nobody is taking anything away from the many. If a developer doesn't include something like chat in a mulitplayer game, it almost certainly has more to do with Euro laws and policing the content of the chats "for the children" and nation-state censorship rules than in complying with this law.

    For instance, China is a massive market and they have very specific rules about what games are allowed to be sold there. Removing potential dissident avenues of speech ( chat ), means they wont have to police that and wont have it flagged by china and prohibit them from being sold there.
     
  31. Smoked Brisket

    Smoked Brisket Limp Gawd

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    Here we go again. A bunch of keyboard warriors overreacting and grandstanding about how they shouldn't have to help anybody and next we are going to cut off limbs and I dont just post on forums Im a male model with 20/20 vision and know karate and when I look in the mirror I dont see a freaking kneckbeard and bod by big red and hot pockets I see Yule Brenner and good ol days. Carry on.
     
  32. cyclone3d

    cyclone3d [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Really?

    So, what if they made a law that since paraplegics have to use wheelchairs that everybody else also has to use wheelchairs?

    Or if they made it so since blind people have to use brail to read that brail is the only allowed print?
     
  33. Zarathustra[H]

    Zarathustra[H] Official Forum Curmudgeon

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    I'm all for greater inclusion for the disabled, but isn't this a little bit like a blind man complaining he can't get a job as a bus driver?

    I mean, games are largely an audiovisual medium. If you lack the ability to hear or see I have to wonder how enjoyable the games could ever be.
     
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  34. Darth Ender

    Darth Ender Limp Gawd

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    i think it's closer to... you have room to add a ramp to your building but instead insist on only having stairs. Well they complain and now you have to install a ramp. The ramp doesn't alienate those who didn't need it but it is an added expense to the business owner that they could have survived just fine without (including the loss of business from those who needed it).

    Games are largely audio visual. But there will be cases where there's room to allow text size adjustments or color adjustments or text to speach changes that dont alienate those who dont make use of such features that wont impact the gameplay for anyone. Those are what will fall under this rule.
     
  35. Hakaba

    Hakaba Gawd

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    Since this will raise production cost, offset it as DLC for the few who would need it and price it accordingly.
     
  36. capt_cope

    capt_cope Gawd

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    Way too many people leaping to ridiculous extremes. It's not like the regulations are mandating everyone's experience needs to be the same, and from what I can see compliance can be achieved by allowing users to configure some basic options that lots of games already have (UI scaling, UI color customization, user-set sound levels, etc.) - not exactly earth-shattering stuff. If you want to be pissed at anyone for taking away your features, get pissed at the developers who decide that feature isn't worth the time and money to make accessible.
     
  37. Dead Parrot

    Dead Parrot 2[H]4U

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    Considering that we have had text to speech for about as long as we have had home computers (Wargames - "How about a nice game of Chess?"), any game company ditching text chat over CVAA requirements(known about for years) has self identified as a company in trouble. And the reverse, speech to text, if Google can do it surely a major game company can pull it off.

    If this forces companies to make their interfaces easier to customize, good.

    There are limits to accommodations. TV is still primarily a medium for the sighted. No amount of ADA type stuff can change that. Same for Video games.
     
  38. seanreisk

    seanreisk Gawd

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    This is reasonable. I maintained the disability services computer labs at my university for several years, and I can promise you people with a disability would be delighted if someone offered them usability tools for a game for an extra $20.00.

    Non-disabled people really don't understand the range of problems that disabled people have, nor do they understand what these people give up. People with seizure episodes have spent years asking Blizzard if they could have a slider that would turn down the spell effects in a boss battle.
     
  39. darckhart

    darckhart Limp Gawd

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    I haven't read the exact verbiage, but I'm confused. how does cutting out the whole text chat function mean they are in compliance with this? it would seem like no text chat is even more violation..

    And without knowing anything about cost, I'm not convinced it will add all this "enormous" cost. That's always the convenient excuse for laziness and people that just don't want to do it....
     
  40. Mega6

    Mega6 [H]ard|Gawd

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    Fkn Lawyers. Don't think it is about special needs anyone. Someone saw a buck to be made and they are closing the loophole. Now everyone can pay more for games with crap in it that no one uses or wants.