Publisher EA has been making it easier for developers to implement accessibility features by making many of them free for other developers to use. Now, the company is expanding that toolset with a patent to help folks with epilepsy and other forms of light sensitivity.
EA already has several accessibility patents that have been made available for outside developers. Alongside Apex Legends’ ping feature are machine learning programs that recommend optimal controller configurations, custom player voice commands to control NPCs, and haptic feedback sequences to display player information on-screen, among others.
The latest is IRIS, a photosensitivity tool that automatically analyzes and identifies specific frames that could trigger an epileptic episode for folks. As outlined by the U.K.’s Epilepsy Society and the U.S.’ Epilepsy Foundation, about five percent of the global population with epilepsy are photosensitive. EA’s IRIS tool should make gaming easier for folks who contend with light sensitivity.
According to EA, IRIS provides easy-to-understand analytics that developers can act upon quickly. The patent makes it easier for teams to check their content for flashing lights or rapidly changing spatial partners, both of which could cause seizures for people with epilepsy or other light sensitivity issues. EA said that a select few games already IRIS, including Madden 24, FC 24, and WRC, with the goal of implementing it in other games sometime in the future.
In a press release shared with Kotaku via email, EA Senior Pice President of Global Affairs Kerry Hopkins, said the IRIS tool and the company’s broader accessibility initiative, were created because everyone should be able to game.
“We are continuing to build on that pledge by open-sourcing our photosensitivity tool, IRIS, and opening up the use of additional patented technology, which could help players with motor, cognitive, visual, and/or other disabilities have a smoother game experience,” Hopkins said. “We want to enable [devs] across the community to break down barriers to participation, create safer, more inclusive, more accessible and ultimately more fun experiences for players worldwide.”
With IRIS becoming open-source, gaming for folks with visual disabilities—like myself—should hopefully get more accessible. There are a plethora of games that’ve made it so that disabled gamers can play them, including The Last of Us Part II and Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. In a notoriously secretive industry, it’s a refreshing change to see studios sharing tools to make games more inclusive.
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