Developing and Validating a Qualitative Tool for Playtesting Service Learning-Based Accessible Games: A Comprehensive Approach




Accessibility, Inclusive Games, Service Learning, Intellectual Disability, Playtesting


INTRODUCTION: The complex accessibility needs of some players and, in particular, of people with Intellectual Disability (pwID) require greater attention from research due to the lack of tools to support playtesting, particularly those of a qualitative nature and suited to their diversity of experiences and motor and cognitive characteristics.

OBJECTIVES: Recognizing the scarcity of research in media production, particularly games, the study pursues three objectives: firstly, to describe the accessible games developed through a multi-year service learning project involving students from the Videogames Bachelor’s Degree and pwID; secondly, to approach the validation of the Gaming Observation Grid (GOG), a qualitative tool for playtesting sessions; and thirdly, to reflect on service learning as a strategy for bridging the gap between academia and civil society in the context of game design.

METHODS:  The research employed a qualitative media ethnography-based approach involving students from the Videogames Bachelor's Degree. Over a span of three years and six consecutive semesters, 59 students actively participated in a service learning project, engaging with pwID and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in the field. All playtesting activities’ observations were based on GOG, with a total of 273 observed gaming sessions.

RESULTS: The development of 18 videogames, spanning diverse genres and themes, prioritized accessibility based on adjustment settings. GOG emerged as a tailored and feasible instrument, valuable in the broader landscape of inclusive game development. In terms of service-learning outcomes, results highlight students' reflections on the real-world impact of game design and development, underscoring the pedagogical value of service learning in bridging theoretical knowledge and practical application.

CONCLUSION: This study underscores the critical need for enhanced research attention to the complex accessibility requirements of players, particularly pw ID, while emphasizing the relevance of qualitative playtesting tools tailored to their diverse experiences and cognitive-motor characteristics, as well as the inherent value of the experience for the students involved.


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How to Cite

Neves JC, Sousa C, Casimiro C. Developing and Validating a Qualitative Tool for Playtesting Service Learning-Based Accessible Games: A Comprehensive Approach. EAI Endorsed Trans Creat Tech [Internet]. 2024 Jan. 15 [cited 2024 Feb. 22];10. Available from:

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