Before gaming blew up into what it is today, players simply had to put up with the game’s settings and controls.
In recent years, game developers have been making a lot of progress towards allowing disabled players to have the same gaming experience as others. Things like being able to customize your control scheme or change color blindness settings seem trivial to a lot of us, but to someone with disabilities, it can be the difference between enjoying a game or struggling to play it at all. Websites and charities like AbleGamers and DAGER System have helped immensely in the standardization of these options in gaming.
Custom controller mapping isn’t anything new to the industry, so why isn’t it the standard in most if not all games? Game designer Matthew Burns said in an E-mail to Wired.com:
‘The problem is, that accessibility options are often the first thing cut during crunch time, when time and money are at a premium.”
Game devs have been making strides to try and be inclusive towards disabled gamers with games like Grand Turismo offering complete controller remapping, Mortal Kombat using audio cues helps to blind players to enjoy the game, and other games reading the menus to you. But therein lies a larger question: what’s the difference between a game that’s accessible for all players and a game that just has a few accessibility options? I think Carlos Vasquez said it best in his interview with Techly.
“A game is accessible if both disabled players and everyone else can enjoy it the same way. This includes the ability to pop the disk into a console and being able to jump into it without requiring any assistance.”
Consoles themselves are an obstacle, at least for visually impaired players when compared to a PC. For example, consoles don’t have screen-reading software, so unless you already knew the menu layout it would be difficult to navigate without assistance. PCs, on the other hand, have had screen reading software for years as well as most games allowing you to completely remap the controls on your key board.
MSI recently released a customizable left handed mouse (not that being left handed is a disability in any way) but it’s nice to see affordable mice being made for lefties. Sometimes it isn’t just about games being inclusive, sometimes it’s just about games existing and being available to disabled players to help distract them from the daily stresses of life. Though that isn’t exclusive to people with disabilities, I think we have all found ourselves playing video games to distract us or just to relax, because beyond that screen no one can judge us based on what we look like, only by what we’ve achieved in-game. In these online worlds, we can be whoever we want to be without fear of being bullied or ganged up on.
Do you have any experience gaming with a disability? What are some other ways you think game devs could be more inclusive? Did this open your eyes to the difficulties disabled gamers face? Let us know in the comments below and join us on Discord, on our Facebook page, or Twitter.