July 25, 2019. Vancouver, B.C. Neil Squire Society (NSS) and their Makers Making Change (new window) initiative, as well as local gamers with disabilities, hosted a gaming Buildathon at Electronic Arts Vancouver (EA) (new window). 150 EA employees volunteered their time to build assistive technology switches and buttons, soldering electronics to 3D printed pieces to make gaming more accessible to people with disabilities. The accessible gaming Buildathon was the largest of its kind that has been run in Canada.
Gamers with disabilities were pitched against EA gamemakers, with both participants using the adapted technology—putting all players on a level playing field. In one of many friendly matchups, Aaron McHardy, Executive Producer, EA SPORTS FIFA, was pitted against Milad Hajihassan, a local gamer with a disability.
“I’ve been producing EA SPORTS FIFA for 13 years, so I’ve played thousands of hours using standard controllers. I’ve never experienced the game like this before and I met my match today in Milad while I used the adaptive controller,” said McHardy. “This Buildathon reminds me how important it is to make games that everyone can play.”
During the Buildathon, hundreds of open-source switches and buttons were made using 3D printed components, costing a fraction of commercially available equivalents. Switches with a variety of sizes and types were built, enabling gamers to use devices that best match their body shape, strength, dexterity, and overall abilities.
“This Buildathon is an example of the amazing change we can create when people come together,” said Chad Leaman, Director of Innovation, NSS. “All devices built today go to gamers and rehabilitation centres across North America for free through EA’s generous support.”
There are an estimated two million Canadian gamers living with a disability and 10 million in the U.S.
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About Electronic Arts
Electronic Arts (NASDAQ: EA) is a global leader in digital interactive entertainment. The Company develops and delivers games, content and online services for Internet-connected consoles, mobile devices and personal computers.
In fiscal year 2019, EA posted GAAP net revenue of $4.95 billion. Headquartered in Redwood City, California, EA is recognized for a portfolio of critically acclaimed, high-quality brands such as EA SPORTS™ FIFA, Battlefield™, Apex Legends™, The Sims™, Madden NFL, Need for Speed™, Titanfall™ and Plants vs. Zombies™. More information about EA is available at www.ea.com/news (new window).
About Neil Squire Society
“We use Technology, Knowledge, and Passion to Empower Canadians with Disabilities.” Neil Squire Society is the Canadian leader in Assistive Technology, from innovation right through to trialing and implementation. A national not-for-profit organization, the Society has been empowering Canadians with disabilities through employment, digital literacy, and innovation for 35 years. The Society helps clients remove barriers so that they can live independent lives and become active members of the workplace and society. Makers Making Change, an initiative launched by the Neil Squire Society in 2016, connects volunteer makers to people with disabilities who need assistive technologies.
For media inquiries:
Director of Communications, Neil Squire Society
Senior Communications Advisor, EA SPORTS Vancouver & Bucharest