Press Release – Announcing The Playability Initiative

July 16, 2020 By Ryan Green

News Release
July 15, 2020

For Press Inquiries
Ryan Green
Co-Founder Numinous Games
+1 (303) 249-8245

One-Button Adventure Game Offers Gateway To Hundreds Of Accessible Video Games

Des Moines, IA  – Numinous Games announced The Playability Initiative today at the annual Games for Change Festival. The Playability Initiative seeks to collaborate with the accessible gaming community to connect players to video games designed and adapted with their unique abilities in mind while challenging more designers to think inclusively. The Playability Initiative is made possible through the financial support of AveXis, a Novartis company. One-Button Adventure Game Offers Gateway To Hundreds Of Accessible Video Games

Through The Playability Initiative, Numinous Games will collaborate with the spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) and disability community to create a new video game. Painted Waters will be a free, one-button multiplayer adventure game for kids designed to nurture togetherness, activate empathy, and celebrate creativity through play. 

Numinous Games will partner with The AbleGamers Charity to design a special game mode within Painted Waters that helps assess the player’s abilities. This diagnostic game mode will suggest adaptive technology resources to serve the player’s needs and games that may be suitable for the player as they venture beyond Painted Waters gameplay. 

“Children deserve the right to play,” said Steven Spohn, COO of The AbleGamers Charity. “At AbleGamers Charity, our mission is to enable play to combat social isolation for people with disabilities. We’re thrilled to support Numinous Games in creating a digital playground that allows children with disabilities to express themselves creatively, flex their imaginations, and most importantly, to play, just like anyone else.”

In addition to creating a new game, Numinous Games, through The Playability Initiative, is supporting the Family Video Game Database ( to offer new accessibility search filters in their rapidly-growing database of family-friendly games. These expanded search filters will empower parents and adult advocates of children with disabilities to find customized suggestions of games that will work for their children.

“Every child has different tastes and needs for video games,” said Andy Robertson, co-founder of The Family Gaming Database. “Finding suitable games for a child with a disability has additional considerations. Do buttons need to be held down? How much rapid motor function is needed? Can you alter the contrast? Can you adjust captions and subtitles? With support and guidance from The Playability Initiative, we are adding detailed, searchable accomodations for games in our database to empower parents and carers to make informed decisions.” 

Numinous Games will be collaborating with Games for Change in this year’s G4C’s Student Challenge, offering an accessibility modifier to the organization’s youth-facing annual games design challenge.

“Today, we have the tools and technology to create games that adapt to the needs of the gamer, and the new Playability Initiative further fortifies a mindset where inclusivity is the nucleus of all game development,” said Susanna Pollack, president of Games for Change. “We believe the addition of the accessibility modifier to the annual G4C Student Challenge will inspire our student developers to imagine new and inventive ways to draw all people into the games’ community fully and authentically.”

Numinous will be working with Games for Change to create Playability Initiative teaching materials that will help designers of the future think inclusively in their projects.

“Numinous Games believes that a truly inclusive design begins with seeing the inherent value of every single player. As a studio, we aim to love the players who society tends to push to the margins,” added Ryan Green of Numinous Games. “We want to design a game and initiative that honors and considers those players from the very beginning. We are thankful to partner with AveXis to bring The Playability Initiative to life.”

Numinous Games invites parents, advocates, and therapists interested in adaptive gaming to sign up to receive the Playability Adaptive Gaming Newsletter for accessible game reviews, adaptive technology resources, and more. For visitors who are interested in becoming collaborators in the Painted Waters game design process, the Facebook group for the Playability Initiative will provide updates and opportunities to collaborate. To sign up for the newsletter, visit


The Playability Initiative Media Contact Information:

Contact: Ryan Green

Title: Co-Founder Numinous Games

Phone: +1 (303) 249-8245


For more information, please visit:


Numinous Games is an award-winning independent video game, serious game, and VR studio inviting players on a journey of cultural renewal, through meaningful interactive experiences which explore the heart of human interaction.

Numinous’s first title was the BAFTA and G4C award-winning experimental narrative game That Dragon, Cancer, which mixed expressionist environments, autobiographical narrative, and documentary audio into a creative non-fiction video game about a little boy named Joel Green.

Numinous has continued its innovative work in health, working with Novartis to release Galaxies of Hope, a neuroendocrine cancer patient, caregiver, and physician narrative experience.

For more information, visit:


The AbleGamers Foundation is a 501©(3) charity that wields the power of video games to break down the barriers of economic and social isolation for people with disabilities. Through received support and donations, AbleGamers provides disabled gamers with assistive technologies (including their Expansion Pack program) that allow those with limited real-world mobility to experience what it is like to walk, run, climb, drive and even fly – in a virtual world.

For more information, visit:


The Family Gaming Database is created by a small enthusiastic team of parents and carers. They write succinct information about each game for other parents and carers who may be new to gaming. Each game page has a single non-jargon explanation, how long it takes to play, costs and in-game purchases or loot boxes, detailed ESRB and PEGI age-ratings and accessibility provision. Games are arranged in searchable Netflix-style lists to help parents find games around different themes.

For more information, visit:


Games for Change (G4C) has been empowering game creators and innovators to drive real-world change, using games that help people to learn, improve their communities, and contribute to make the world a better place. G4C partners with technology and gaming companies as well as nonprofits, foundations and government agencies, to run world class events, public arcades, design challenges and youth programs. G4C supports a global community of game developers working to use games to tackle real-world challenges, from humanitarian conflicts to climate change and education.

For more information, visit:


AveXis, a Novartis company, is the world’s leading gene therapy company, redefining the possibilities for patients and families affected by life-threatening genetic diseases through our innovative gene therapy platform. Founded in 2013 and headquartered in Bannockburn, IL, the goal of AveXis’ cutting-edge science is to address the underlying, genetic root cause of diseases. AveXis pioneered foundational research, establishing AAV9 as an ideal vector for gene transfer in diseases affecting the central nervous system, laying the groundwork to build a best-in-class, transformational gene therapy pipeline. AveXis received its first U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval in May 2019 for the treatment of spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). AveXis is also developing therapies for other genetic diseases, including Rett syndrome, a genetic form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) SOD1 and Friedreich’s ataxia. For additional information, please visit

Focused on What Our Kids Can Do!

July 15, 2020 By Amy Green
A memory from seven years ago popped up on my Facebook feed. It was a video of my son walking. I watched it twice with the sound turned all the way up – absolutely captivated. Watching the video, some people may find themselves focusing on all the things he could improve on. Some might feel pity. A few might even watch his clumsy efforts and say to themselves, “what a shame.” His gate was uneven. His steps were clunky. His balance was precarious. But when I watch it, all I see is everything Joel was able to do. 

I see a little boy who learned to walk with a tiny gold walker, a boy who took his first steps at the age of three. He often gripped his shirt tightly in his fist as he walked, because he was so unstable on his feet that he needed the security of having something to hold onto. Even if the security he sought was an illusion. He didn’t just learn to walk once. He learned to walk several times after tumors put pressure on his spinal column, and the pain stopped him in his tracks. 

This video, in my “memories feed,” captures the first steps we’d seen him take in three days. We had been preparing for a road trip, a precious luxury after years of cancer treatment that kept us tethered to the hospital, never more than an hour away from the help Joel might need. But while he was terminal, we didn’t have active treatment to consider, and every now and then, we could whisk the children off on an adventure if Joel was doing well. He had just finished a series of radiation treatments. We couldn’t wait to escape. But we had begun to notice issues we tried hard to ignore. Was Joel walking a little less? A subtle wince shifted Joel’s eyes anytime he moved around. He fell after a few unsteady steps – not surprising, but not reassuring. And then two days passed without Joel taking any steps at all. Sometimes with cancer, you know before you know. Neither my husband nor I wanted to be the first one to question if we should cancel our plans.

But on this beautiful day, he rallied. All the worst case scenarios we tried not to imagine were chased away by the sight of our son up on his feet, exploring the neighborhood. And so I press play again. I watch his clompy feet stomp. I listen to his giggle as he “runs.” I remember the trip we didn’t have to cancel – the ribs we ate at a roadside bbq restaurant, Joel’s brothers jumping around on hotel beds as he laughed, not quite able to join in the fun but adding his merriment to the mix, and I remember Joel, climbing every step at the Lincoln memorial, as he held my hand, with fireflies beginning to light up the sky. The holiness I felt inside that sacred space mixed with the gratitude I felt that I had been allowed to witness this boy take each daunting step to the top. 

Joel Eating Wings | Joel and his brothers snuggling | Visiting The Lincoln Memorial

I play the video again, and I notice how Joel barely negotiates the curb, carefully managing his balance. And then he puts his hand on his head for a moment. Why? I wonder now, as I consider him and all he managed to do. Did his head hurt? Did he feel dizzy? He couldn’t tell me. He never spoke.

There was so much he couldn’t do. But we focused on all the things he could do because every ability he displayed resulted from a hard-won battle. Every shaky step was a victory.

Today, we are announcing the Playability Initiative at Games for Change. It’s an initiative that has our whole heart because it allows us to focus on the abilities of children like Joel, who may not be able to leap and run and dance and sing, but we know that everything they can do is a precious gift to the people who love them. We are designing a video game for “the one.” The one others may not see. The one that may get brushed aside so we can serve the majority. The one who the shepherd might leave the 99 for. And what if this one can only move a single finger, ever so slightly? Can we imbue meaning and joy and connection to that child’s ability? We can. We just have to be willing to consider them, to see value in their abilities, and believe they are precious enough to warrant our efforts. Because of Joel, we see all of these “ones,” and we don’t think, “what a shame,” we think, “look at them go!”

If you want to join us in considering children like Joel, follow our journey in the Playability Initiative by joining our Facebook group, and signing up for the Playability Initiative newsletter.