Designing for accessibility in games is all about making the intended depth and immersion available to the largest group of gamers. As people with disabilities know, there has always been a demand for this in games, and this demand is not limited to a small audience. Here’s a great recent example: Naughty Dog published the stats Shows 9.5 Million Players used the accessibility options in Uncharted 4, which is a much larger number than some designers and gamers might assume.
This feature is part of PC Gamer’s Arrival week, starting August 16, as we explore the accessible games, devices, mods, and more.
The idea that the games are not intended for a disabled audience only adds to the long-standing dehumanization of disability in general. As a designer, I’ve failed to apply this knowledge to my own work in the past, because I learned design in a way that didn’t even mention accessibility as an issue, even though I’m handicapped.
As the industry adapts, it is important to remember that there is no perfect combination of accessible game design features that make a game fully accessible automatically. It is impossible to foresee every problem that may arise in the experience of every player with a disability. Accessibility is the process of understanding the multiple visions of a game.
Some of the biggest games now make this more of a focus during design, but developers large and small still stumble around the basic access issues that each game can begin to account for.
Rethink the text
On-screen text is as old as games, and in most contemporary games, visual translation of dialogue is understood to be an essential option. It is definitely the feature I use the most. According to Ubisoft’s Access Manager, 95% of Far Cry: New Dawn players, which starts with a virtual subtitles, were happy to use them all the time.
The important thing is Not They are taken into account a lot, probably because just getting subtitles is seen as “enough” for deaf and hard of hearing players, the various issues with unmodifiable subtitles and the needs of players who want subtitles for more than just text dialogue.
There are basic rules and design choices for clarity that can be followed to stop playing games like Resident Evil Village Unattributed and unreadable addresses on snowy backgrounds. Or Knockout City’s recent success from offering a barely-readable set of text via its menu layout.
Having an interchangeable deep contrast background behind the subtitles, placing it on a portion of the screen that does not cover another text, and having font size controls as standard are the starter kit options for making the subtitles truly accessible.
There are also many games where the captions are absent. Captions are subtitles specifically for deaf and hard of hearing audiences that convey non-dialogue audio during movie scenes. The lack of well-written comments compromises the sound design of these players. There have been developments recently in including captions in the big games, but this also means that some games will try to provide helpful captions but get it wrong. Overly detailed captions in . format marvel avengers Show a misunderstanding of the feature.
Visual cues and symbols for at least significant audio events are becoming more and more common in games today. It would be encouraging to see all of these options become standard in the same way that closed captioning has become a legal requirement for broadcast TV and VoD with target audience input into the design.
Similar to how audio is translated into text, any text item should be able to be read aloud by a screen reader. This unlocks text-heavy game items such as menus for visually impaired players.
The captions are still not ubiquitous, and games are unlikely to include audio clips to describe the sound. This is a piece of technology for visually impaired players that should be standard; It improves the experience by giving these players descriptions of scenes and actions along with dialogue, which helps them mentally visualize the action being displayed on the screen. Ubisoft has partnered with Descriptive Video Works To create one of the most prominent examples of audio described in games with Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, they’re also working together in the upcoming Far Cry 6.
Many visually impaired players will benefit from a wide range of modifications to the game’s visuals. The Last of Us 2, for example, could It is difficult to analyze because it is full of muddy and dark locations. But it comes with a lot Options to change the visual sceneAdding high levels of distinction between objects.
Design for lack of color is another area where the quality of the result depends on realizing diverse visual experiences from the start. Games that assume facts about the player’s color vision, and mechanically depend on it, make themselves inaccessible by design, as in Resident Evil Village’s colorful health bar indicators, which only flash red, orange, or green.
Here is a prime example of how to display accessibility options while still creating a game that is essentially inaccessible down the road Cyberpunk 2077 deals with visual phenomena. Cyberpunk 2077 reserved color blindness options, but was released to reviewers without understanding (or warning) of the dangers of flashing light animations that could trigger players with epilepsy, As reported by Liana Ruppert for GameInformer. The studio’s next step was to work with Ruppert to create a more secure game, but it wasn’t supposed to go that far. No big studio should release a game with such little awareness of the dangers of seizures.
Set switches and switches
The physical ability that players have to interact with is another major factor in gameplay, and computer games have long had options such as setting key inputs to allow players to improve how they interact with the game. Input options allow many people to access a game in a way that does not put a strain on their bodies.
Another useful but underutilized option: switching actions.
Many games involve gameplay designed around a change in movement pattern (think shooting down a barrel) or a continuous action (such as continuous movement) that requires an insert to be held in place for the duration of the action. This isn’t possible for some players, and being able to toggle these actions on or off instead can stop games from being unplayable for them. Cyberpunk 2077 is also The ultimate in games that require modding and script hacking, in a very cyberpunk way, in order to allow things like switching.
toggle options Added in expansion to monitoring The year 2020 brought a whole new type of access to the game, and it’s proof that studios have come to realize that the accessibility needs of different players can still be addressed post-release. With more updates like Control, common frustrations for disabled players may become a thing of the past.
For gamers looking for high-quality accessibility reviews of recent big releases, check out our work can i play it? As linked in the examples above.