UK Gaming Charity SpecialEffect to Receive Special Award at 20th BAFTA Games Awards

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BAFTA has announced that UK gaming charity SpecialEffect, will receive the prestigious Special Award at the 20th BAFTA Games Awards. The award, which recognises outstanding contributions to games, film and television, is one of the highest accolades bestowed by BAFTA. Dr Mick Donegan MBE, founder and CEO of SpecialEffect, will pick up the Special Award at the annual BAFTA Games Awards ceremony on Thursday 11 April.

In 2007, Mick Donegan founded SpecialEffect to help people with even the most severe physical challenges to access video games. The organisation uses specialised technology to enhance access to video games and creative self-expression for people with a wide range of Disabilities.

SpecialEffect’s success began as a result of the collaboration between Mick, a specialist in assistive technology and his son Bill, a keen gamer with a background in product design. Since its creation, the charity has grown to thirty employees, raising all their own funds, and has provided specialist one-to-one assessments and support to severely disabled people throughout the UK and beyond.

Dr Mick Donegan MBE, SpecialEffect founder and CEO, said: “With a background in special education, I realised how much people with severe physical disabilities were missing out by not being able to play. I started SpecialEffect not only to help individuals to play video games but also to collaborate with the games industry to make their games more accessible ‘at source’. Since then, we have been privileged to be invited to share our ideas with more and more developers all over the world. Now, 17 years since SpecialEffect began, it’s an absolute honour for SpecialEffect’s work to be recognised by BAFTA.”

Emma Baehr, BAFTA executive director of awards and content, said: “SpecialEffect’s work is essential to the games world and is hugely deserving of a BAFTA Special Award. Their innovative and supportive approach to making games accessible drives progress within the industry, collaborating with developers and studios on new technologies to make games within reach to more people. We look forward to honouring their contribution to games at the ceremony on Thursday 11 April.”

Throughout the years, SpecialEffect has been involved in collaborating with Xbox, Sony and Logitech, to help design accessible controllers and a switch kit, enabling thousands more severely disabled players to access their games using a wide range of control devices. They have also worked with games studios and developers to help make their games more accessible. The organisation also developed EyeMine, a freely downloadable gaze-controlled interface to enable players to enjoy Minecraft through gaze-control alone.

Later this year will see the rollout of their EyeGaze Games (currently available on PC only) onto Android and iOS, games designed to be fully accessible for people with physical disabilities, whether they use gaze control, joysticks, switches or gamepads.

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