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Valve: Game Accessibility Benefits Disabled, Able Alike

Valve Software experimental psychologist Mike Ambinder tells Gamasutra making games more accessible benefits not only disabled gamers, but all players, "both abl
Making games more accessible benefits not only disabled gamers, but all players, Valve Software experimental psychologist Mike Ambinder told Gamasutra in a new feature. "Most of the accommodations we make for disabled gamers (closed captioning/subtitles, colorblind mode, in-game pausing in single player, easier difficulty levels, re-mappable keys/buttons, open-microphones, mouse sensitivity settings, use of both mouse and keyboard and gamepads, etc.) stem from functionality added to improve the experience of both able and disabled gamers," Ambinder said. "For example, both groups of gamers benefit from the ability to pause Left 4 Dead 2 if they need to take a break or escape from the action, and the addition of subtitles allows all gamers to process the in-game dialogue/sound effects through an alternative visual medium if that is their preference." Valve, developer of games including Left 4 Dead, Half-Life and Team Fortress 2, is highly-regarded in the disabled gaming community, particularly for its work with adaptive control devices. "We may design for an optimum experience, but any accommodations we make to extend the accessibility of our games should benefit folks (both able and disabled) who choose to consume our content in an alternative fashion," Ambinder said. For more commentary on accessibility from Valve, 7-128 Software and VTree, read the full Gamasutra feature, available now.

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