Accessibility has been an important conversation in the gaming industry for a while now. This discussion is so vital due to the fact that it allows more people to enjoy this beloved hobby than ever before, which is always a good thing. However, nailing down how to implement accessibility features effectively has proven to be a bit tricky.
As it turns out, being creative in how to approach these features is incredibly useful. Therefore, we will be taking a look at some accessibility options that need to be embraced by the games industry in the future.
Of course, subtitles have been openly accepted by visual media for many years. However, not all subtitles are equal. There have been many examples of gaming subtitles being so small that they’re nearly impossible to read. Naturally, this is doubly problematic during gameplay segments when the player is attempting to focus on the action happening on-screen.
By allowing the player to choose their own subtitle size, developers can solve this issue once and for all. However, there are also other little touches that can be added, as well. These would include closed captioning, name tags to indicate which character is speaking, and possibly even font options.
Custom controller mapping
Much thought goes into the process of mapping control schemes to a gamepad. However, having the ability to map controls to your own preferences can be very useful in terms of accessibility. A button that isn’t incredibly important could be swapped with one that is vital to gameplay so as to make it easier to mash.
Small touches such as this seem overly simple, but sometimes they can make or break a gameplay experience for someone.
There are a few games that rely on the player recognizing specific colors in order to progress in gameplay. As you can imagine, this can definitely hinder a player that has color blindness, as they can not see these differences.
This issue has been tackled a few ways. However, one of the most effective approaches is to add symbols to these specific colors. Again, this seems like a tiny change that some could see as insignificant, but it would definitely be useful to quite a few gamers looking to enjoy their experience.
Some players may have issues with controlling two thumbsticks at the same time. Unfortunately, for a third-person action game such as Uncharted or Assassin’s Creed, dual-stick functionality is pretty important at times.
There isn’t a perfect fix for this issue just yet. However, one very good option is to have the camera snap to whichever direction the character is pointed towards. Of course, this option can be a bit messy and jarring, but it can make a third-person game a good deal more accessible in some ways. Hopefully, there will be a more innovative solution for this in the future, though.
Similarly to the previous entry, this option would also be useful for players who suffer from motor skill issues. It can be insanely frustrating to properly line up a shot during a hectic gunfight for a player like this. Unfortunately, this could result in the game becoming much less fun and cause the player to miss out on a great experience.
By simply locking the in-game aim onto enemies when the player holds down a button, this issue becomes much less trouble. Fortunately, there have been quite a few games recently that have found a way to use this feature while also retaining a bit of the gameplay challenge, as well.
It seems that terrain traversal has become a popular fixture in the current generation of gaming. Of course, it seems that it will also be a big part of next-gen, as well. As such, it’s time to talk about the options that players have in regards to climbing and exploration.
Not only can the traversal be troublesome for those with motor skill issues, but being able to see exactly where the pathing for progression lies can be an issue, as well. Further streamlining the process of climbing by having the character automatically progress could make things much easier for some players.
Hold vs mash
Button mashing during quick-time-events, or QTEs is a standard feature in modern gaming. However, that mechanic isn’t very accessible to many players, unfortunately. While the button mashing moments can definitely make an exciting moment more tense or interesting, it can seriously hinder progression in some cases.
Offering an option to replace the button mash prompts with instructions to hold down the button instead could be very helpful. Then these players would be able to easily complete many more games.
An accessible font
Text-heavy games are increasingly common in the current generation of gaming. Even action oriented titles feature many collectibles that require the player to read walls of text in order to better understand the world and story. Naturally, this can be an issue for dyslexic gamers in a big way.
Simply adding the option to use a word font that is more accessible to players with dyslexia could make a world of difference for many people. Also, it isn’t uncommon for people who do not live with dyslexia to use these fonts, as well. It has been said that these fonts enable readers to take in more information with ease, therefore virtually everyone can gain from this accessibility option.
Games such as 2018’s God of War used audio cues in combat to alert the player when an attack was coming from off-screen. While this was a useful feature, it can also be expanded upon quite a bit. While being present in combat already, these audio cues could also be implemented into both traversal and exploration.
For instance, many games ask players to find collectibles scattered throughout the setting. Some players may have issues seeing the goodies hidden from view. By adding audio cues to notify players that they’re near an obtainable, the object becomes far more likely to be found.
This can also be applied to traversal and progression. Naughty Dog’s latest hit, The Last of Us Part II, implemented a sort of echo-location tool. By placing these audio cues near progression points, the game helped lost players or those with visibility issues find their way forward.