As the old nerd adage goes, “With great power comes great responsibility.” and in his particular way, Mark Brown fits the bill. He has not only built up a strong reputation, but has also shown a willingness to pay it forward. His most recent endeavor on video game accessibility, which began yesterday, may be the strongest indicator yet.
There is one thing that has to absolutely be clear right off the bat: He is not making any new inroads or innovations in the discussion of how to make video gaming a more accessible hobby for disabled people. Even as someone so out of the know where this is concerned that it’s a blind spot of mine, I still can attest that this has been a long-running concern for years now. It has its own Kotaku tag. TAY’s very own division-ten has even beaten both Mark Brown and me to the punch by writing the episode on the topic for Extra Credits!
Given how well-known he has become, in major part through his Game Maker’s Toolkit series, this could potentially be a big problem. Being seen or straight-up trying to position one’s self as the de facto representative for an important issue simply due to name recognition—appropriating the hard work accomplished by people who’ve dedicated themselves to it for far longer without that same fame, or regardless of if their “contributions” may actually be inaccurate—is a real possibility. That was a going concern of mine when seeing Mark Brown’s first Designing for Disbality video.
However, it’s been a relief to see that, true to form, he seems to characteristically be taking that concern just as seriously. Though his video is more beginner’s-guide primer on the topic than a new point of consideration into the topic, he made sure to perform due diligence by running all of his points and examples from an actual expert in the field, in this case from AbleGamers (who’s I’ve also seen previously covered), and—crucially—directly acknowledged and thanked them for their help.
His output here, in other words, was only possible by “standing on the shoulders of giants,” as another adage goes. What he brings to the table, more than anything else, is the opportunity to expose an important topic to more people and, through his trademark excellent video skills, make it more accessible and approachable. While doing this, though, he himself still transparently and emphatically acknowledged the expertise in the room, both through the AbleGamers shout-out and giving an additional note of thanks towards the Game accessibility guidelines website.
Good on him for that. Making the effort to give credit where credit is due is not only just good form, but might even direct some of the viewers to came to him through name recognition towards the others putting in the real work. Those are values that everyone, me included, could stand to practice more.
On a final note, here’s hoping that this spotlight, both here and in future installments of the Designing for Disability series, may incur some positive change in the gaming space!