Gaming Accessibility Project Hopes To Bring More Games To Disabled Players

Gaming Accessibility Project Hopes To Bring More Games To Disabled Players

There are two kinds of accessibility that come up in gaming discussions. One is that understanding how a game works, or how to master it, can often be impenetrable to the newbie. But the other is that no matter how experienced a gamer is, if he or she has certain disabilities, the games can be literally almost impossible to access.

Features like subtitles, control remapping and colourblind modes are a start, but many games still don’t take physical disabilities into account. A new project hopes to increase awareness about how and why accessibility considerations can add to a gamer’s experience and increase the audience.

Called Game Accessibility Guidelines, the project separates adaptations into a list of basic, intermediate and advanced steps a developer can take to make sure their game is accessible. Basic features include common features like control remapping, separate volume controls for speech/music/etc, subtitles and high contrast on text. The advanced list includes features like a “pingable sonar-style audio map”, distinct audio cues for different events, and allowing all instructional and narrative sequences to be replayed.

The full list is exhaustive, and particularly worth a look for able-bodied players and developers. It’s easy to take something like audio cues or even having two hands to use a controller with for granted. And while some gamers will always get hung up on feeling that mastery of a complex system is the winning skill that sets them apart, others would just like to be able to adjust the controls so they can play at all.

As for why accessibility is important? Other than the important issue of basic fairness and decency, the project points to data PopCap gathered showing that up to 20% of the player base for casual games have some kind of disability. That’s a lot of gamers who are currently being underserved — gamers who could be buying many more games, if developers take their needs into account.

Game Accessibility Guidelines [project site, via BBC News]


  • Hope this comes into affect. My brother-in-law has extreme difficulty using his right hand due to a stroke he had. This pretty much limits the games he can play to Wii titles that only use the wiimote by itself in the ‘remote’ position.

  • Ive built a game for a disabled kid, though i’m just a hobbyist. There Was this kid with no arms and his parents wanted a video game he could play with his brothers. So I built a game where you yell at the computer and a airplane flies up or down depending on how loud you yell. Then you just flew across the screen dodging stuff and flying through other stuff. IT sounds simple but it was actually kind of fun, even if you had arms.

    I had fun making it too, though my neighbours proboly thought I was going insane yelling that my computer for a few hours every night. If I had money and time I would not mind spending my life building games specifically for people who are missing bits.

  • I hate to be the one to say it, especially on an article like this, but people really need to stop using that “3 gears” image – arranging gears that way doesn’t work. I hope the guidelines get the attention they need, but that logo just… doesn’t convey the right message.

  • This is cool, intentions are good and everything but unless someone takes and raises the standard (preferably a big player, [EA I’m looking at you, battlefield accessability wise is HORRENDOUS!]) nothing’s going to happen. Boo Goose, that sounds awesome my nieces would go crazy over that!

    I am legally blind (Maculars are completely destroyed, optic nerves damaged, no central vision. What you see 100 metres away, is my vision 1 metre away! it’s pooh! 🙂 ) so I can’t drive (luckily for all living things everywhere!) and do alot of things….Anyway my body isn’t the most abled thing in the world (was recently paralysed after a bad operation and am still recovering and doing rehab) but games I can do!
    Can easily pull out 28:3 on mw3 (and back when halo 3 was the new amazing thing I was getting perfections!)

    Making games easier for people to play isn’t hard and unintentionally has been happening in the last few years (just a few examples in CoD; The clink when you headshot someone, the sound and vibration of a hit marker, the whirl of a bouncing betty [stop drop and roll indeed] as well as footsteps [dead silence infuriates me as well as cold blood, it’s not like I’m blind enough or anything] I pretty much live off thermal vision) Anyway just saying that already things are just easier than they were (Having to predict your bullet tregectary on 250+ ping in CoD: United Offensive was insane, but that’s how I got good) with more intense graphics coming out, things aren’t as jagged, blury or unrealistic as they were these key factors help ALOT!

    Just leaving highschool in under 14 months then I’ll be off to uni , in the future when I see my kids playing hopefully other disabled kids won’t have to adapt as much as I do (that’s what you do when you don’t have something, you work with what you got.)

    Hopefully this is used!

  • I know in the scheme of thing my red green blue colour “blindness” is pretty trivial, but it does make games such as BF3 a lot hard. Too many times I’ve been killed by what I thought was a squad member. If developers added customisable colour pallets for the HUD Id be a happy man. “Colour blind mode” only works if its colours that affect you.

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