Being Inclusive, part 1 : Dreaming big / by Cara Jessop

What does 'being inclusive' mean, anyway?

For us, being inclusive doesn't mean trying to set apart a space outside or even within the mainstream which is specially demarcated for people of different abilities. It means bringing everyone together into the same space! 

A large part of making this happen involves getting other people on board, and we have been hugely moved by the interest and support we have had from specialist as well as mainstream circles for our work on Millie Moreorless.

Apple chose to feature our game on the iTunes store during World Down's Syndrome Awareness week. This is kind of a holy grail for developers, so we were thrilled! What a fantastic way for them to champion inclusivity, and embrace design which has players with learning difficulties at its heart.

We were delighted also to be invited to show Millie Moreorless at Now Play This games festival in April, which demonstrated that there is a place for us and our young players with Down's Syndrome at popular games events. 

On the first day of the festival Cara was interviewed in front of a live audience by two lovely Guardian journalists, Keith and Jordan, which was a fantastic platform to speak about inclusivity. It was exciting to chat with audience members afterwards and explore a crossover of ideas, as we discussed ways to bring people with learning difficulties more into the games world, but also how to bring games into communities supporting people with learning difficulties as a tool for activism. Watch this space! 

We are passionate advocates for what we do because the more people that make and support inclusive, empowering games, the better they will be - and the more opportunities there are then for young people of all abilities to participate in popular culture, all the while practising skills that help them be more a part of our society generally.

Of course, ultimately, the games themselves have to be up to the challenge. The dream for us is to make games co-designed with players with learning difficulties which are SO GOOD that all the world wants to join the fun and play them together! This seems like a pretty good way to dissolve boundaries between players from the inside out, creating a common language through shared positive experiences.

We’re still new to games, and have quite a bit of learning to do to before we are able to make THE BEST INCLUSIVE GAMES EVER (!) but it is never too soon to aspire to this end or to be asking the question - so how on earth do we do that?!

To be continued…