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Accessibility & gaming: Your views and experiences


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I've got a variety of annoying disabilities and health problems but none which affect my gaming all that much, though some of them mean there are certain games/genres that are effectively impossible for me to play because of them. I will say though, that any game which offers fully/almost fully reprogrammable controls, is a godsend. Here are some games I've played that offer a decent/reasonable variety of accessibility options:

 

Borderlands (all except Tales from the Borderlands and New Tales from the Borderlands)

We Happy Few

Deep Rock Galactic

Dead Cells

Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed

Attack on Titan 2: Final Battle

Astroneer

No Man's Sky - The Accessibility options here are ok but HG could and should be doing more.

Autumn's Journey

Hogwarts Legacy

House Flipper -  The Accessibility options here are ok but the devs could and should be doing more.

Edited by HuntingFever
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Red/Green color blindness. Hasn't really impacted me, not sure I'd even consider it a disability to be honest.

I do appreciate it when I can swap out color pallets, but overall I just choose games I know that I can play instead of assuming games should accomadate me.

Edited by VigilantCrow
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It doesn't need an inpairment to start accessibility. A good example what a difference it makes when the developer and designer puts in some thought is Dust: An Elysian Tail, by Dead Dodrill. Its basically a one-man project and he put in four years of hard work. Back then he included an options menu that put AAA developers to shame, you could adjust the HUD to your needs, and on PC it had an FOV slider that prevents you from getting headache and eyesore - an option that Call of Duty was missing back then and still had to become a standard. Thought put in by one person.

 

Insomniac Games like Ratchet & Clank Rift Apart or Spider-Man 2 offer a lot of customization for accessibility, like various modes for colorblind people, adjusting the size or adding subtitle text or disabling quick time events. You can also select difficulty, like many games do. Re-binding your controller layout is also a must, especially when a gane basically wants you to use left stick and d-pad during action sequences the same time.

 

In World of Tanks Console you can use a different color mode since people with red/green colorblindness can have a hard time seeing a red outline on a green background, which has been discussed as cheating since there would be a higher contrast (even though the game provides the mode and nobody stops you from using it).

 

Another form of accessibility is language localization. For example, God of War can be played entirely in German, with German dubs, text, subtitles. Doesn't go with all games though, like you will not get a German Red Dead Redemption dub (but game text and subs are German).

 

Racing Games, especially for younger audiences, have tools too. Like a steering help so that you keep an ideal line on the track (at the cost of overall speed) - Mario Kart 8 for example. In Paw Patrol Grand Prix this could mean you just hold a button and stay on track. Same game also reads out every text. 

 

Inaccessibility, especially for visually impaired, is a thing from yesterday, yet still happens way too often.

 

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The most common accessibility issues I've personally encountered when playing games is lack of subtitles in cutscenes and tiny text.

I often play 3DS or Switch in bed when my husband has already fallen asleep so I have the volume really low or completely off. When there's a cutscene with speech and no subtitles, I have no idea what's happening. 

Tiny text in dialogue bubbles or UI is another problem for me. Lately I've noticed my vision isn't quite as sharp as it used to be. Most games don't offer any kind of options to increase the text size so I'm left squinting and guessing.

 

The WCAG criteria has a lot of principles that could be applied to videogames just like they are applied to web services. I'm a developer and web accessibility is an important part of my work. 

A lot of game companies already provide useful accessibility features in their games and I'd like to see more and more companies realize the importance and take action. Ubisoft is one of the pioneers in gaming accessibility and I suggest looking into their blog posts on the topic: Ubisoft - Accessibility. Then there's Xbox Accessibility Guidelines which is a great resource with best practice examples.

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1 hour ago, Eyjabria said:

The most common accessibility issues I've personally encountered when playing games is lack of subtitles in cutscenes and tiny text.

I often play 3DS or Switch in bed when my husband has already fallen asleep so I have the volume really low or completely off. When there's a cutscene with speech and no subtitles, I have no idea what's happening. 

Tiny text in dialogue bubbles or UI is another problem for me. Lately I've noticed my vision isn't quite as sharp as it used to be. Most games don't offer any kind of options to increase the text size so I'm left squinting and guessing.

 

The WCAG criteria has a lot of principles that could be applied to videogames just like they are applied to web services. I'm a developer and web accessibility is an important part of my work. 

A lot of game companies already provide useful accessibility features in their games and I'd like to see more and more companies realize the importance and take action. Ubisoft is one of the pioneers in gaming accessibility and I suggest looking into their blog posts on the topic: Ubisoft - Accessibility. Then there's Xbox Accessibility Guidelines which is a great resource with best practice examples.

My eyesight isn't great either but my hearing is worse, because I have issues with certain frequencies (plus a birth defect inside one ear), which is why I need the subtitles on most of the time when watching films/TV or playing games, else I have a hard time knowing what's going on :(.

Edited by HuntingFever
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For me, I don't have a formal disability, but do have chronic tendinopathy in my right thumb, which is painless on a normal day. But it does flare up if I play button mashers or rhythm games, which stopped me from playing action games unless they have story or easy mode. Due to this, I mostly for turned based games like Atelier or Persona, and otome/visual novels, and it's the reason I have not played Neo the world ends with you after seeing a reddit post, where someone said the action is too fast that it made their carpal tunnel flare up, so I avoided that game. 

 

I remember when I played the persona dancing games, my thumb flared up really bad. Those games have game boosters so you can easily complete them though. 

 

Most action games do have an easy or story mode these days, which was what I played on it Hogwarts Legacy and Ghostwire Tokyo. 

 

Another is text, I am short-sighted so small text or inability to enlarge text annoys me, even though I wear glasses. I noticed this an issue in Ghostwire Tokyo, where the largest text was still too small. Not had this issue with most JRPGs, it's mostly western games, I remember in Life is strange the text was also too small and also white so was difficult to see against all the vivid colours in the game, as it did not have a dialogue box. I think there were some accessibility options though. 

 

Lastly is free flowing dialogue without the option of having it as the text stopping and you having to press to continue to the next bit. Never an issue in Japanese games where literally all the ones i have played make you click to forward dialogue, and also have backlogs so you can re-read bits you missed. But for western games it's all free flow continuous play, if you miss something, tough shit. I'm not very fast at reading and sometimes forget or miss stuff, Hogwarts legacy annoyed with this, the whole story eventually just went over my head, no option to pause or re read dialogue... don't like that.  I appreciate JRPGs not racing through the dialogue. 

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I've been loving the recent advances towards more accessible options. I don't have a disability but I do have a hard time seeing subtitle text sometimes. I like how a lot of recent games have the ability to increase text size or change the colour for more contrast. It's also a huge help for my dad who I play games with and is a little bit older and has a way more difficult time seeing the text than I do. 

 

I also find it very cool that some games have an arachnophobia mode. I would consider that an accessibility option even if it might sound a little funny. Spiders have been an integral basic enemy in video games since the start basically. Spiders don't bother me that much in video games, but I do like how that consideration is now being made for people where maybe they'd put the whole game down because of them otherwise. My bf has a friend who freaks out whenever there are spiders on screen but recently was playing something that had the mode available (don't remember what game it was) and instead of actual spiders it just had like the word 'spider' on screen in their place. I thought that was hilarious and she wasn't panicking like she probably would've been otherwise. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

A quick note to everyone to say thanks for your thoughts and information.  Whilst you've all responded (and I'll respond to you all individually as is proper), I've spent some time looking into academic research into accessibility measures and gaming.  One professor in question, Sky LeRelle Anderson has authored quite a few articles that correspond succinctly with your collective points.

 

One of his papers in particular, reviews accessibility articles at CanIPlayThat.com and AbleGamers.Org and collects the tools and facilities that appear most useful into the following groupings: -

  • Subtitles & text accessibility

  • Difficulty options & assist features

  • Control options and control design:

  • Colour, UI clarity, game visual clarity and visual cues for audio

His papers also include a wider discourse over the social model of disability as cross-disciplinary research field that's got a fair ways to go.  If anyone is interested in any of his articles, I'll be happy to share/discuss more.

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Very interesting topic for discussion! I don't have anything very groundbreaking to share, but thought I'd share a couple personal experiences:

  • Regarding colorblindness, I'm not colorblind but my son is red/green colorblind (the most common type). It hasn't really affected his gaming all that much, but it can have an effect. He has sometimes noted that he can't tell the difference in item type for some games - think games like Borderlands where the items emit an aura or beam of light to indicate how rare they are. Color matching games like Zuma or Sparkle can also be an obvious problem. In addition to color pallet swapping, what's really useful for him is when the game offers symbols in addition to the colors. Like, all the red orbs have a duck in the middle and all the green orbs have a sun, or whatever they choose to use. Options like that are particularly helpful.
  • I second the importance of text size options. You don't even need a disability to be affected by this one. My vision is fine, but for some games I start, the default text is so damn small I can't read it on a 60" TV unless I'm standing like 2 feet away from the TV. I really don't understand why devs do this, but I've got one random guess which may play a part: at the development stage, the work is being done on computer monitors and the workers are seated very close to the monitor in an office setting. So of course the text is easy to read in that environment, but it doesn't translate well to a living room environment where the couch may be on the opposite side of the room. Take note, developers!
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