Game Consoles Are Moving Toward Truly Making Their Games Accessible to All
More and more, games and game consoles are moving toward being accessible for all players. This is a great step in broadening the gaming industry. Previous studies on accessibility also show that it may help not only the disabled but also others that are unfamiliar with or easily confused by game tactics.
We are starting to see more accessible games in the industry. There’s even a website dedicated to telling you if a game is accessible to a variety of people. Originally, the games listed on the site were mostly cute, low-intensity games like walking simulators and casual games. But the list has expanded to include more intense games.
Some examples of games that have been designed to be accessible in recent years are God of War: Ragnarok, Hades, World of Warcraft, Gears 5, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Ratchet and Clank: A Rift Apart, and Grounded.
Usually, the design changes are pretty small. They can be something like adding an easier mode, reducing game speeds, adding captions, optional slower timers, minimaps, visual cues for noise, and options to change the colors.
These changes can often help everyone, even people that don’t need the accessibility but can benefit from it. And usually, these settings can be turned on or off, so those that don’t need the features don’t have to worry about them at all.
This makes the gameplay better for everyone, as it allows for harder or easier games depending on your skill, ability, and needs. You may even be able to find ways to make the game harder than expected by turning certain settings on and off.
But unfortunately, sometimes just changing the game isn’t enough. For instance, controllers can be awkward to use for people who don’t have fine motor control.
Thankfully, that is changing too. Companies like Sony and Microsoft are working to create controllers that are more usable for more of the population, including those with disabilities.
The Xbox Adaptive Controller was one of the first to be released which allows more flexibility in its use. The company that designed the controller worked hard with several teams, including Logitech G, PDP, and Quadstick, to make sure that it would work well for all users.
There are all sorts of devices you can attach to the controller, including buttons, mounts, and joysticks, so you can truly customize it to your needs. As we have seen with the games, this can make games more fun and interesting for everyone, as it allows those that have smaller hands or face challenges with using devices to find a controller that works for them.
While each change can make the controller more costly, it’s still a step towards adaptability, and the controller works for both Xbox consoles and PCs.
More recently, Sony announced a controller for their PlayStation 5 that’s aimed at increasing accessibility. Like the Xbox controller, there are different parts for the device that allows the user to adjust it to their needs. More parts are available at additional cost.
The controller is known as Project Leonardo. Included with the controller is an AUX port for a variety of input devices. It also can be rested flat on a wheelchair tray, a table, or a tripod, so no one has to worry about balancing it on their lap or holding it while they use the buttons.
Like with the Xbox controller, many teams came together to make the design, including AbleGamer, SpecialEffect, and Stack Up. They also took cues from the Xbox controller to be even more adaptive and fix problems other companies have had.
Some features this controller includes are separate movements for the right and left, flexible buttons, swappable stick caps, and other features that are growing from their continued work with other companies.
Not Just for the Disabled
As we have seen from many projects aimed at accessibility, many changes made to games and console designs are helping everyone. This is an effect known as the Curb Cut Effect. Curb cuts are the small ramps from a sidewalk down to the street that make it easier for those in wheelchairs to get around. However, they also ended up helping many different groups. For example, mothers with strollers, those on bikes, and people towing luggage all benefit from curb cuts.
While curb cuts are the main example, we have seen this effect with many other accessibility changes, such as closed captions, bigger doorways, adjustable desks, text-to-speech, and much more. Even airplanes and car services in major cities, like a Seattle chauffeur service, can help people with disabilities and people without.
Designers and creators are starting to see the same effect in video games. These games are usually not so intensive, which makes them great options for anyone trying to get into the gaming world or who has little experience.
These controllers, while still new and not super-abundant, are looking to be similar, working well for those that need the accessibility but also for those with smaller hands or who easily get confused by button placement.
It’s a great step to make games and, now, controllers accessible for all. This allows everyone to feel accepted into the gaming industry and gives people a chance to try out all sorts of games they might not have been able to play before. After all, while cozy games are fun and relaxing, sometimes it’s fun to play an action-packed game or an RPG that is big in the gaming industry.
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