2018 was a vintage year for inclusion of gamers with disabilities, with all kinds of lovely firsts. Post on the progress made throughout the year is incoming, but first a few of my favourite quotes from the past year; some of them thought provoking, some inspiring, some a reality check. Taken together they show clear progress and a clear need for more progress.
Whether you’re motivated by hearing the difference that your games can make, motivated by unsolved problems that need to be fixed, or just want a handy list of good people to follow on twitter, hopefully there’ll be something for you here.
A few of the people quoted in this post, image courtesy of Vivek Gohil
Recognising the need
Games can bring agency to people who often don’t have it. Being able to make choices is something that many of us take for granted.
Bryce Johnson, Microsoft
I just want to grab all you developers and share our tears, our struggles, and just how badly we want to play your games
Chris “deafgamersTV” Robinson
Isn't that why we make games? To deliver wonderful experiences to as many as possible.
Several years ago, I was diagnosed with advanced keratoconus, a degenerative eye disease. I lost the ability to play many games and enjoy some of the past-times I've so loved. Warframe is what I turned to when I had a complicated problem or deep stress in my life. Even just sitting in region chat (big monitor with the text and window size cranked all the way up) has helped me not feel so isolated and powerless.
If games didn't have subtitles, I wouldn't know English today, so yeah.
#VideoGamesHelpMe keep my arthritis under control. Playing video games forces me to move and flex my fingers and hands, which would otherwise become stiff with arthritis. Plus, since I'm disabled and basically homebound, it helps keep me occupied.
I’ve been playing Sims games for years but the last year I’ve been losing my vision and now I struggle to read menu options and text bars. Losing my vision hasn’t been scary or horrible, I’ve been very positive about it, but I don’t want to lose my ability to play one of my favorite games since I was a kid.
As of late what motivates me to purchase a new game has shifted from graphics, content etc to accessibility, Accessibility is huge for me as a disabled gamer.
André J. Daughtry
I play games. I make games. I’m low-vision. I remember when studios don’t think I’m worth their time and consideration.
I understand that games are created with a specific vision in mind and they're meant to be played a certain way, experienced a certain way. Except... when you force your ideal experience on people that CAN'T experience it, you likely lose them as customers forever.
I bought this game for my enjoyment, why should the dev be the one to dictate how i do that ?
Kelly MacNeill, Sony
I spent many hours fine-tuning the difficulty of Celeste, so it's easy for me to feel precious about my designs. But ultimately, we want to empower the player and give them a good experience, and sometimes that means letting go.
Obviously, it is not how I intended players to enjoy the game but, hey, who the am I to tell people how they have to play or enjoy!
Gamers really need to try to understand that their experiences are NOT universal. This is the understatement of our industry, it is our biggest hurdle.
Bryce Johnson, Microsoft
I keep my phone screen so dark that I was struggling to tell navy from purple in this @TwoDots level. Switched to Colorblind mode; problem solved. Accessibility. Helps. Everyone.
Some of us gamers age and don't have the eye sight we used to!
Dan the HuMan
It just occurred to me, I've been completely deaf my entire 40 year life, was born deaf, and the first time I've ever been shut out from being able to enjoy something in my way was when I started gaming.
I hate how angry I become over colorblind related difficulty in video games. This isn't a fucking challenge I can overcome so I just feel penalized for existing and playing a video game.
Impairment + environment = disability. As designers, we disable people when we don't get it right.
Jamie Knight, BBC
The biggest misconception about accessibility is that by adding it you’re doing someone a favour. You’re not, you’re doing your job.
James Williamson, Lynda
Reminder: designers have an ethical responsibility to make accessibility part of the conversation whenever possible, as early as possible
Nate Davis, Axon Interactive
We're coming up on 2 billion people playing video games on this planet. As an industry, when you start to hit that kind of impact act in terms of the broad base of people that interact with your art form, I do think we have a social responsibility.
Phil Spencer, Xbox
Accessibility is a major part of how I envision inclusivity. Dauntless is about you forging your legend. Regardless of who you are.
Jesse Houston, Phoenix Labs
Really excited that we’ve got Xbox Adaptive Controllers to test with on #Gears5. We want to make sure it’s a great experience for everyone!
Rod Fergusson, The Coalition
We're excited to be part of an industry-movement that includes more and more accessibility options for players. As we move towards a more inclusive future, we welcome your feedback in helping make that happen!
Seeing all this stuff about increased accessibility in games, devs making no-enemy game modes, and the variety of difficulty thats coming in shadow of the tomb raider makes me so so happy. Its like a gaming renaissance right now and I love it
I can’t explain how it felt to have this team say, “We expected folks like you and considered a way to let you play, too.”
Heidi McDonald, ithrive
It's really very cool when you tweet about gaming and your disability and an actual producer working on the game you want to play contacts you about ways to make the game more accessible. Really love the folk who are keen to be as inclusive as possible. <3 <3
TFW you hear back from an #indiedev that you asked about #a11y in their game, they state that they "don't see a need for remappable controls, as everything is intuitively mapped already", and you realize they can't hear you hiss through the computer screen. I had to put down the raised hackles myself and be willing to keep the dialogue going. And it turned out for the better: they have said that their game will now have remappable controls! As tiring as advocating for ourselves can be, small steps like these make it worth it.
I’m very glad to see that the new #SpiderManPS4 game has prominent #Accessibility options including the ability to make button mashing QTEs into a single hold. It helps a ton with my nerve damaged hands.
The fact that Street Fighter V has customizable controls has allowed me, having cerebral palsy that affects my right hand, to play it semi-competitively and fully enjoy myself... I even managed to go to EVO Japan and get a win! Praise be this feature.
After trying the option to hold a button instead of mashing it for QTEs in Uncharted: Lost legacy, I'm going to enable it in every game that allows it.
In this #UnchartedTheLostLegacy set-piece we vary the speed based on your progression so you’re in just the right place for all the key moments. I specifically tuned it for accessibility so you can play with one hand if you have to.
Asher Einhorn, Naughty Dog
Hearing news that @TheLastofUs2 will have similar accessibility options to #Uncharted4 made me decide to pre-order it. a ADS toggle option should be in every game.
I want congratulate the team behind accessibility in Assassins Creed Origins for the full remapping and many toggles instead of hold. It made such a difference it's hard to explain. You turned impossible into enjoyable for me. Thank you.
Seeing other #accessibility advocates report ACO’s good #a11y options for subtitles, I bought it. ðŸ˜Š
Celeste's "Assist Mode" is such a clever way of making a difficult game accessible to a wider audience. It's framed perfectly too - not insulting, not condescending, just accepting.
Matt Rowlabo, League Of Geeks
Loved assist mode! As I couldn't have finished the game without it. It's my favorite thing a game has put in for accessibility in years
Just picked up this game 100% because of this feature. Game accessibility is so important!
My arthritis makes precise aiming difficult for me. Characters like Mesa in Warframe or Winston in Overwatch have auto targeting attacks that help me remain effective.
Not even started the game yet and I’m almost in tears already. Look at all the accessibility options. Huge shoutout to #GodofWar devs.
For a deafblind guy used to low accessibility, Avalon Online is pure luxury.
HUGE shoutout to @WWEgames and @2KSupport for updating the red outline on selections in #wwe2k19 as a colorblind fellow you just made the game 1000000 times more playable!
Now I have a game I can play with some friends, who even though they don't like football, they bought just because I could play and they could play a game with me.
(Blind gamer on being able to play Madden 18 with sighted friends, resulting in multiple sales)
As a blind gamer EA Sports made it possible for me to play sports again. Thank you
Just tried the FIFA 19 demo and I'm absolutely amazed! Not only there's still the two buttons controls scheme, but there's also a new ONE button scheme? What is this magic!? This is a dream come true for someone in my condition!
The combat is satisfying because it demands mastery, but the player gets to determine what that mastery looks like. You know you did something right whenever you succeed, and that remains true regardless of your chosen path. Way Of The Passive Fist lets everyone feel like a badass in much the same way that Guitar Hero lets anyone be a rock star.
Eric Weiss, That Shelf
Sniper Elite 4 had custom difficulty sliders too. It was very useful in my case for creating a relatively easy mode with the wind/bullet drop mechanics of the much harder difficulty modes.
I spent over an hour just walking around looking at the mountains in this VR game yesterday. I found that I could use a controller and stay seated. what a difference that makes to disabled old me! No more getting tired from just standing up. I love this game simply for the fact that I can walk around the countryside without leaving my chair :) Also, dragons.
ACCESSIBILITY IN AAA GAMES IS BECOMING POPULAR
Tara Voelker, Microsoft
Theres so many AAA games coming out that I want/can probably play now thanks to XAC & more focus on accessibility options. Its so weird after writing so many off as unplayable for so long. I can't afford to try them all which is oddly a great problem to have!
8yr old nephew is already switched on to thinking about #gamedev accessibility. Playtesting my game he suggested using a color to differentiate a special type of object, then immediately said "hmm but that wouldn't work if someone is colorblind". What a champ!
But we still have a way to go
Super disappointed to see such a lively city with so many people talking to and reacting to Spider-Man and none of it's subtitled. There are random fans you can interact with for 5 xp but seems like your adoring public should be subtitled.
Biggest video game pet-peeve (that's absolutely minor) (but will still ruin my first impression of your game): if you have subtitles, but do not have a prominent prompt to enable them before the first dialogue - whether that's cutscene or in-game.
Rami Ismail, Vlambeer
Dear game devs, I love you. You make my favorite things and I owe a lot to you. However, please make the font on your subtitles big enough to read. I'm already going deaf, which I why I need them; I'd rather not go blind trying to read through a video game.
Ask yourself why you’re adding subtitles to your game if you’re not also making sure they’re legible to people who sit a healthy distance from their screens or don’t have perfect eyesight and reading capabilities.
The immersion (and fun, which is what I play games for) has been completely shattered when I need to concentrate to see what that tiny little word on the lower right corner screen of the tv says. It's just no longer fun, much less immersive.
I'm dyslexic. In game UIs which are text heavy and don't allow me to control the font or make the text accessible to screen reading programs aren't good. Also games like Kerbal Space Program where you have to read a lot of text to understand what the heck you are trying to do
I hope that in 2019 game developers stop using tiny font for subtitles and/or font colours that clash/blend-in with the background that makes it hard to see for the visually impaired, or in my case, those who are colourblind - we don't all sit 50 cm away from the screen – thanks
A good colorblind mode can make or break a game. I've had to refund several games on Steam because of lack of colorblind options.
Colour issues are invisible to everybody in the team. Normal-sighted devs don't see the problems, and colorblind devs don't see the features.
Douglas Pennant, Creative Assembly
I legitimately can't play games with motion blur, I get horrible motion sickness
I cannot play games with excessive motion blur and an fov lower than 100.
My memory is so gd bad that I can genuinely forget the first half of a sentence by the end. I also generally can't play a game for too long without taking breaks. Games that give recaps and notes are vastly more enjoyable.
Not allowing video games to be paused is infuriating. As someone who has Crohn's, when it's time to go, it's time to go. It's sad missing out on being able to play games like Bloodborne and Dark Souls as a result, and now my Monster Hunter purchase is null as a result.
Button mashing and QTE is not only a terrible obstacle but a silly mechanic. We need alternatives. Last year I had to refund over 200 euros worth of games due to it.
I hate games in beta that don't have basic accessibility features like remapping of keybinds. How are we supposed to test a game we can't even play? ;_;
As more and more games require R3 and L3, the days of me being able to play video games is slowly coming to an end. And it makes me super sad.
Dev, esp AAA please stop using stick press buttons as major features of your games. And if you do, have remapping. Hell, have remapping anyway. Great numbers of people can’t press those buttons or it’s dangerous and painful to do so due to injury, arthritis & tendinitis.
Motion controls can be fun, but they're pretty hard to use when you have a restless toddler snuggled up next to you.
Brannon Zahand, Xbox
I have asthma and it makes a lot of games with microphone controls difficult.
The Power Of Dove
Having hemiparesis, it's more common for me to run into a game where rigid control choices make a game not -worth- playing. This is often missed in accessibility conversations; being just possible is not enough, interfacing with the game should not be work.
Clint “halfcoordinated” Lexa
Debug options can be accessibility features! Expose them to players in your menus
Integrated Accessibility is a state of mind, bolt on accessibility is a state of panic.
David MacDonald, CanAdapt
It’s a mindset, not a feature. It really should be considered in every step of the process.
Karen Stevens, EA
We must push for the development of accessible features, not complementary accessibility features.
Virginie J Costa, Eidos Montreal
There is no room for pride when it comes to accessibility. We need to reach between companies and talk to each other, learn from each other. We all want the same thing, wins for disabled gamers
Meagan Marie, Crystal Dynamics
And a couple more to close on..
There are plenty of individuals out there and everyone has a different way of approaching the world. Sometimes it’s by choice and sometimes those are the cards you’re dealt. We just wanted to be able to make sure that as many people could enjoy our game. Because where’s the fun in cutting people out over something you could easily make accessible to them?
Rosemary Brennan, Household Games
When we’re shut out of playing big name games and platforms, whether it’s due to pain or inability to play in the way we’re expected, it heightens our sense of being different, of being disabled. It’s not just multiplayer games that provide community. When we’re deliberately included, when accessibility is attempted, when we’re given the OPTIONS and settings to play how we need to (like anyone else enjoys) it’s magnificent; we’re part of the community, we’re no longer the DISABLED gamer, we’re a gamer just like anyone else.
Republished from ian-hamilton.com