Video Game Accessibility

An introduction to video game accessibility, and why does it matter.

We all love playing video games, and the process to play them is pretty straightforward for most of us; You download the game and get started. But for many others, the process isn't that simple. According to the World Report on Disability, more than one billion people have some form of impairment, which means that they cannot experience these games like the rest of us.

These disabilities are mainly of five types:

  1. Motor: The player has trouble using the game's controls. It can be due to physical constraints like the inability to press a key or poor developer decisions like a complicated control scheme or control sensitivity.
  2. Cognitive: The player has trouble keeping track of all the information provided by the game or processing all the information. It can be due to complicated menus, poor/ no translations, bad fonts, or the absence of interactive tutorials.
  3. Vision: The player has trouble seeing or distinguishing all the elements present on the screen. It can be due to colorblindness, small and crowded text or UI, VR motion sickness, etc.
  4. Hearing: The player has trouble listening to audio cues like gunshot directions, NPC dialogue, and so on. It can be due to the absence of subtitles or over reliance on auditory cues.
  5. Speech: The player has trouble communicating with his teammates. It can be due to the absence of alternative communication methods.

Now some games incorporate settings that help everyone to experience the game in the best way possible. But, these are few and far between and are generally limited to a few indie games and even fewer AAA games. Even though some larger studios are now adding some accessibility features to their games, for the indie developers, there are a few hurdles. The largest one being a lack of resources to guide and help these developers make their games more accessible. Thus, throughout the next few posts, we'll be looking in detail at each type of disability individually and some ways we can make our games better for everyone else.

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