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Art Institute Student to Judge GDC Accessibility Game Design Competition

Robert Florio, a student at the Art Institute Online, a division of The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, was chosen to judge ‘Accessibility Idol,’ an accessibility-related video game design competition at the 2007 Game Developers Conference.
Robert Florio, an advocate for accessible video gaming and a Game Art & Design student at The Art Institute Online, a division of The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, was asked to participate as a judge at this year’s Game Developers Conference March 5 - 9 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, CA. Robert Florio, who is quadriplegic, will be judging a session called, ‘Accessibility Idol,’ a competition that is based on the reality show, ‘American Idol’ at this year’s Game Developers Conference. Instead of singing, this event pits five leading game designers (Sheri Grander Ray, Ernest Adams, Noah Falstein, Brenda Brathwaite, and Sam Lewis) against each other to create the best game design for a gamer who is quadriplegic. Judges will put together guidelines for the participants according to the special needs they have when it comes to playing video games. At competition time they’ll listen to each contestant, review the games, and judge them on accessibility and entertainment value. All judges, including Florio, are active members of the International Game Developers Association’s (IGDA) Game Accessibility Special Interest Group (SIG), which was formed to help the game community strive toward creating mainstream games that are universally accessible to all, regardless of disability. Each year, the IGDA awards 25 scholarships to send qualified students to the Game Developers Conference. Florio, who was a winner last year, is an active leader of the Game Accessibility SIG and a very devoted game design student. After a diving accident that left Florio paralyzed at age 14, he learned to express himself through art, using his mouth to draw and paint. He later combined his talent and his love for video games into a life goal to earn a bachelor’s degree in Game Art & Design and create accessible video games for people with disabilities.

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