Having brought gaming fanatics together in one place since 1999, Insomnia Gaming Festival has levelled up its accessibility policy to ensure that no gamer is left behind. Welcoming over 45,000 players each year, Insomnia has created a hugely diverse community hailing from all walks of life, ages and abilities. Seeing first-hand the haven that online forums can provide those with additional needs, Insomnia’s organisers have created an entirely accessible four-day extravaganza IRL.
Every aspect of accessibility has been taken into account: from removing physical barriers to making mental health provisions. Whether it’s ensuring that there are wheelchair-accessible stages, so stairs don’t get in the way of those looking to participate in the festival’s competitions; or training every member of event staff in mental health first aid, so that they can offer comprehensive support to those who might need it during the festival: Insomnia Gaming Festival has made positive strides in reaching total accessibility.
Phil Crawford, part of Player1 Events, the organising body behind Insomnia, feels passionately about accessibility. He said:
“Making the event entirely unrestricted for everybody is incredibly important for us. Insomnia Gaming Festival has always been about creating a sense of community beyond the computer screen; but we know that we cannot do that if we don’t truly take into account the needs of everyone. We want to make sure that all gamers feel part of the action and can enjoy the unrivalled atmosphere, without worrying about whether they will be included. This is a space for everyone and we are so proud to be leading the way, setting a precedent for other festivals.”
The changes haven’t happened overnight and Insomnia Gaming Festival is aware that there is always space to learn more. Pushing itself to improve best practice across the board, it has partnered with Special Effect, a UK based charity who use video games and technology to enhance the lives of people with disabilities. Special Effect has now been on-boarded as an advisory partner to the event, assisting with accessibility and inclusivity policies, as well as adding to the content of the show.
“Working with Special Effect has truly opened our eyes to just how alienating a festival environment can be for those with additional needs. From simple things, like accessibility issues into the venue, to the stress that queuing can can cause those with anxiety: there’s so much that can be taken for granted. That’s why we’re changing the way we run our festivals, looking at prevention as well as cure, and placing a focus on designing out the obstacles, ” concluded Phil.
The next festival will see Insomnia return to Birmingham’s NEC in April, and tickets are already on sale for i66 at insomnia.seetickets.com/tour/insomnia, and include options for carers tickets both for the day and the whole weekend. To find out more information about what more is in store for Insomnia, head to the website at insomniagamingfestival.com. To find out the full accessibility of the NEC ahead of the festival follow the link to AccessAble at https://www.accessable.co.uk/organisations/the-nec.