Accessibility in Gaming is More Important Than You Think
Gaming is meant to be a fun activity that everyone enjoys. People with disabilities are often excluded from social activities, including gaming. By making games more accessible, we can ensure that everyone can have fun in games. Everyone deserves to have the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of gaming, which is why developers are investing more resources into accessibility features that make gaming more inclusive. These features are not meant for people with disabilities alone, they can help all gamers enjoy games no matter the circumstance.
Who Needs Accessibility Features in Gaming?
There are many different types of disabilities that can affect gaming, including visual impairments, hearing impairments, motor impairments, and cognitive impairments. Anita Mortaloni, accessibility director at Xbox, said in an interview with PBS News Hour, “How you play changes over the course of your life or during the day. If I’ve been staring at the computer all day, maybe I need night mode. If I broke my wrist snowboarding, the standard controller mapping no longer work for me. “If there are barriers to play because a game’s not accessible or inclusive, people won’t play it”
Features like large subtitles, color adjustments, alternate input methods and adjustable difficulty levels help everyone and not just gamers with disabilities. Game developers are constantly trying to find new and innovative ways to make games more accessible and we would like to highlight some of their efforts below.
How Gaming is Becoming More Accessible
Subtitles and Closed Captions: A lot of us prefer having subtitles for movies and TV shows just from a convenience perspective, but there are many out there who need them. Gamers who are deaf or have hearing disabilities benefit greatly from subtitles in video games.
Adjustable Difficulty: We all know how gamers love a challenge when playing various games. But there are many out there who simply do not have the reflexes to play certain games. Lower-difficulty settings are also great for children and newcomers to gaming.
Color Blind Settings: Almost all modern games offer color adjustment settings and color-blind settings to help gamers with visual impairments. Some of these settings are used even by hardcore gamers who want to fine-tune their visibility in competitive games.
Alternative Inputs: Not everyone can use a keyboard, mouse, or controller with the same level of dexterity. There are alternate input methods like eye tracking and visual commands that help gamers with disabilities enjoy video games without feeling left out.
Audio and Haptic Cues: Gamers with visibility issues can rely on audio and haptic cues to enjoy games. A great example is World of Warcraft, an MMORPG that has a host of accessibility options including text-to-speech, audio queues, and full customization over what the game reads out for you.
The Best Games with Accessibility Features
Here are some of the games that are trying to make a difference and have included top-notch accessibility features.
The Last of Us II
This critically acclaimed action-adventure game from Naughty Dog features a wide range of accessibility options designed to cater to a diverse range of players, including those with visual, auditory, and motor impairments. The game includes customizable controls, subtitles, high-contrast mode, screen reader support, and various difficulty levels.
God of War and God of War: Ragnarok
This reimagining of the classic PlayStation franchise features a wealth of accessibility features that make it more approachable for players of all abilities. The games offer adjustable difficulty levels, subtitles, screen reader support, and a high-contrast mode to enhance visibility. They also feature customizable controls and a variety of combat assists to make the gameplay more manageable
Celeste is a challenging platformer from Extremely OK Games and has garnered widespread praise for its innovative accessibility features, particularly the Assist Mode. This mode allows players to tailor the difficulty of the game to their individual needs, providing options for slowing down the game speed, making jumps more forgiving, and even adding invincibility.
Forza Horizon 5
This open-world racing game from Playground Games stands out for its comprehensive accessibility features, making it a truly inclusive racing experience. The game offers a wide range of customizable options, including adjustable difficulty levels, various driving assists, colorblind-friendly settings, and comprehensive support for assistive technology.
Horizon Zero Dawn and Horizon Forbidden West
The Horizon games from Guerrilla Games have been praised for their commitment to accessibility, offering a variety of features that cater to players with diverse needs. The games include customizable controls, subtitles, a high-contrast mode, and various difficulty levels. They also feature a Focus Mode that slows down time and highlights important elements in the environment, making it easier for players with visual impairments to navigate the world.
Gaming should be accessible to everyone and it is a hobby that should not be gatekept. Features like adjustable difficulty are sometimes seen as controversial but everyone deserves to have fun and accessibility features should be welcomed by gamers.