The Outer Worlds Does Colorblind Gaming Right

The Outer Worlds Does Colorblind Gaming Right
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It’s cool that many modern games include colorblind options, so that those who struggle to differentiate between various hues can still enjoy the experience to the fullest. It’s even cooler, though, when a game is designed from the ground up with that support in mind.

Obsidian’s Josh Sawyer shared this info in a Tweet earlier in the week, saying that not one but two of the game’s directors had a form of colorblindness:

That basically means the game is relying on stuff like icons, text, spoken dialogue and art to tell you things, without relying solely on “red thing is bad”, or “green thing is good”.

More and more games are including colorblind filters or options these days, where certain colour indicators and shades are changed (Call of Duty has been particularly good at this), but to see a major game designed with it in mind is great.

If you don’t have colorblindness and wonder what the fuss is about, it’s estimated as many as 1 in 8 men have some form of colorblindness (the rates in women are around 1 in 200).


  • This is great. So much easier to design accessible content from the start than to try to kludge it in at the end, as well.

  • I’m colorblind so this is good to know. It can be a challenge. For instance Witcher 3 was completely unplayable unitl I used their options.

    I’ll be checking out whether the Switch port of Outer Worlds is any good later in the year.

  • I never thought about it but every colourblind person I know is a man. Had no idea the female incidence rate was so low.

    • Funnily enough, the single colourblind person I know is male, tho I sometimes wonder when I get in arguments with women about whether something is blue, green or aqua.

    • Here’s an interesting one for you, mate of mine was in an accident, and went from being able to see colour to being colourblind.

      • I was quite sick earliar in the year or late last year and I had a couple of days where my colour sightedness went out of whack. I started seeing things as greens and purples that were not meant to be that colour. Luckily it went back to normal after I got better.

    • Traditionally it was thought to be a male-only condition since the more common red/green deficiency is due to a mutation on the X chromosome. Females can be carriers, but the effect from one X is often compensated for by the other X unless both are defective (which requires a colourblind father and a mother who is a carrier) – whereas males being XY will manifest it after inheriting from their mother.

      Rarer variants like blue/yellow are on non-sex genes so apparently have more even distribution but affect a smaller proportion of the population. There is also some interesting reading on racial distribution (how it affects more white and mixed race people), and increased occurence due to ageing populations.

  • I like the way one tweet in that thread put it.
    Basically: ‘All other games are designed to be inaccessible, then have to add additional features to be accessible. This way is less roundabout.’

    That said, I feel like it’s possible I might need an inaccessibility patch? I was trying to play some more last night, and walking around Edgewater I was thinking about how ultra-contrasty the colours were, making it very ‘glarey’ – nearly painful to look at, and get a real sense of the town. Especially when you’re carefully scrutinizing every bottle and piece of litter on the ground in case it’s a consumable.

    A lot of the replies in the twitter thread were praising the high colour contrast as a key accessibility design choice, and that’s got me wondering if the reason I find it hard to look at is related to how they designed it for the colourblind.

    It’ll be interesting to see if the upcoming nvidea geforce experience update with reshade options can be used to try and… tone it down a bit.

    • That looks more like an aesthetic decision than an accessibility one to me. ‘Colourblind mode’ doesn’t tend to do much to the contrast of in-game visuals; it is (as the article says) more about making sure there are options for understanding the game that don’t require colour vision (e.g. use a different icon for friends vs enemies, instead of the same icon in different colours, or indicating the best items with a diamond icon instead of just a gold border).

      • I mean, that was my understanding prior to today, so I was surprised to see so many tweet replies to that thread making reference to the benefits of high colour contrast.

      • We use a software package at work that has gone through different iterations of accessibility. When it started there were purple, blue and red coloured locations. They then moved to green people in boxes and red people without. So that was a good pointer when I taught colourblind people how to use it.

        And then they were bought out by a US multinational who ditched all the accessibility visuals and just had identical red and green people. Our system administrator was colourblind and had issues with it.

        They’ve now been sold to a UK (I believe) company and accessibility is back, with not only the return of boxes but inverted how the colours fill in between the two types.

  • As one of the Colourblind Crew, I can appreciate this. Lots of games are basically locked off to me due to this. Puzzle games like Puyo Puyo are almost unplayable with the default skins and colours. Some FPS games use green and red as friendly / unfriendly markers and this is no good for me either.

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