Why Video Game Accessibility Matters In The Game Industry
Updated: Dec 30, 2022
Accessibility is a huge subject of debate in 2022. It allows people with some kind of disability to not only enjoy video games, movies or whatever their hobbies are, but also to feel included and have a sense of belonging in a world that’s not always fair to them. We all know someone that has a disability who just wants to enjoy a video game and they can’t, and this is something that could happen to every one of us without a previous warning. It’s important to understand what can be done to make video games more accessible to everyone.
According to DataProt more than
214 million Americans play video games, and 46 million of them have some kind of disability.
This means that 1 out of 5 gamers have to deal with some kind of disability that may cause them to stop playing some video games they would like to play and enjoy like anyone else. Taking this into account, over the past decade video game developers and foundations have been pushing and adding different options, customizations or even entire controllers and devices to help them enjoy video games like the rest of us.
Big console manufacturers like Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo have different accessibility options on their operating systems to allow players to change some settings like customizable button mapping, different controllers support, magnifier for zoom on the screen for text, high contrast options, color filters etc. The fact that these big companies push accessibility at a base system level helps smaller companies and studios take advantage of this when they start developing games for their systems.
A very good example of what can be accomplished with these features is The Last of Us 2 from Naughty Dog for the PlayStation 4. This game has options that let you customize almost everything including different visual options like high contrast, enhanced listening, audio cues for traversal and combat, awareness indicators, vibration cues for combat and a lot more. For a complete list of all the options you can visit the Last of Us 2 website and learn more about them.
Xbox has also pushed accessibility in the industry, creating the first official adaptive controller to meet the needs of gamers with limited mobility around the world. This controller for the Xbox and PC was created by Microsoft and different foundations and charities like The Able Gamers Charity that helped design and add functionalities for it. You can even customize the controller and add accessories for a tailored experience for that specific person.
Console makers and developers are not the only ones that help the disabled community enjoy games. Some websites offer some insight on the importance of accessibility for gamers. Isabelle Meyer, writer for Nintendo Life, lists some of the accessibility options and features video games should have in 2022 to help handicapped gamers. Some of these features include being able to change the game difficulty at any point, alternative color display options and filters, or button remapping and more controller options.
Sam Amara also writes in Blog Amara about accessibility in video games and specifically about how something as simple as subtitles is extremely needed and useful for the hearing-impaired and how many studios don’t take them into account during gameplay. Some use a very small font size, font color etc. so studios and publishers need to think from a UI/UX perspective when creating them. Unfortunately, not all of them are willing to take the time or resources to do them correctly, so it’s important to call them out when this happens.
A very important website for the disabled community is
Can I Play That (CIPT).
This media outlet focuses on accessibility reporting including news, interviews with developers, game reviews focused on accessibility (not only if a game is good or bad), and much more. The awareness that CIPT gives to the disabled community can’t be overlooked as it is run by disabled gamers, for disabled gamers making it a safe place for everyone.
As stated before, there are many foundations and charities that not only help disabled gamers, but also help developers create more accessible video games and accessories for them.Some of them are: The Able Gamers Charity, The Cerebral Palsy Foundation, !Special Effect, or Warfighter Engaged. We can always help improve the lives of those less fortunate than us and these foundations and charities need our help to keep growing and giving awareness to the whole community. I invite everyone to explore their websites and see if you can help in any way possible.
As you can see, accessibility is something everyone must consider and video games can help people connect, make friends, and feel included in a community that has millions of players around the world. It’s the responsibility of the more fortunate people to help the less fortunate, so if you want to learn more about how you can make games more accessible to gamers with many different disabilities, check out this article by GameIndustry.biz to learn more.
This article is brought to you by Employers 4 Change - Improving, skills based diversity recruitment and management for interns and employees alike. Be sure to play our game, Intern Pursuit Game on Steam, and listen to our podcast The Intern Whisperer on PodBean or your podcast platform of choice.
Author: Ignacio Blazquez - LinkedIn