E3 Gaming conference accessibility announcements

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Wednesday, 22 June 2016 17:37pm

This year at the EA's E3 Gaming Conference, a number of gaming companies and console producers announced their commitment to accessibility. We provide a roundup of some of the accessibility focuses and advancements in the world of gaming.

Close up of someone holding a blue, lit-up Playstation controller

The importance of accessible gaming

As games are becoming increasingly complex and realistic, it is more important than ever for game developers to create accessibility features in order to become more inclusive for those with disabilities. Developers need to ensure that games aren’t too ‘colour-centric’ so they are inclusive for people who are colour-blind or vision-impaired, and provide customisable controls which allow inclusion for a variety of disabilities or different versions of the game.  

“What developers need to realize is that these games do more than just entertain the disabled,”  said Josh Straub, former Game Informer intern. “First of all, they provide an escape from sort of the doldrums of being disabled. And second of all, they provide a social space where, instead of being judged by physical appearance, we’re purely judged by the actions that we do and the things that we produce in the game.”

We have recently shed light on the importance of accessible gaming with a news piece about how a disabled gamer influenced Naughty Dog game developers to improve their accessibility in Charted 4.

XBox 'Gaming for everyone'

Last year Xbox launched its ‘Gaming for Everyone’ accessibility movement internally and has been since developing the project. The 'Gaming for Everyone' movement aims to make sure that gaming is inclusive for all.  At the E3 conference, this was spoken about publically.  Phil Spencer, head of Microsoft's Xbox division has said, "every single person on Team Xbox is working together to make gaming accessible, equitable and sustainable for all".

View the ‘Gaming for Everyone’ strategy talk at the E3 conference.

Read more about the 'Gaming for Everyone' movement

Madden NFL 17

At the E3 gaming press conference, EA Games announced that Madden NFL  17 was to have improvements made in  regards to the accessibility of their game.  The features will be made a part of the Visual Feedback Screen in the Settings menu.

These accessibility enhancements include larger on-field graphics and colour-blind support.  The larger on-field graphics will make in-game functions such as passes, tackle battles and catches easier to see.  In terms of colour-blind support, filters will be able to be selected to cover the entire screen during game-play.  Red, green and blue colour-blindness will be supported.

Lastly, within the Settings, users will be about to adjust by 5 levels both the brightness and contrast of their screens.  This game is to be launched for PS4 and Xbox One on 23 August 2016.

Halo Wars 2

Not only was the launch of this game announced at the E3 conference, it was announced that Halo Wars 2 will take on the task of making the RTS gaming experience accessible.  The developers explained that the gaming functionalities will be customisable and players can play the game in a variety of ways.  It was announced that the game will have unique control schemes developed for mouse/ keyboard (due to be launched as a Windows 10 game as well as console), Xbox One consoles and a variety of multi-player modes.  Halo Wars 2 aims to prove that a console RTS isn’t a limitation but an opportunity.


Recore, an action-adventure game that is due to be launched on 13 September, is approaching colour-blind accessibility differently.

Colours within the game play an important role in its game-play and functionality. One of the game producers is colour-blind which highlighted the need for the game to be accessible for people who are colour-blind.  Due to the dominant role of colours within the way the game plays, they recognised the importance of accessibility.

Colours plays heavily into character personalities and enemy properties.  For example, red is for attacks and characters who possess this colour are more likely to do more damage to their opponent, whereas yellow signifies slowing down enemies.

The game developers have come up with a system that turns on when the game is in ‘colour-blind mode’ and is based more around symbols than actual colours.

Watch the ReCore E3 Gameplay Trailer

Technology nowadays is advancing rapidly and so is awareness regarding disability. As the popularity of video games continues to soar, so too does the interest in accessible gaming for the estimated 20% of gamers with a disability.  It is therefore  essential that game developers make accessibility the core of everything that they produce.  

Read more about Gaming and accessibility on the MAA website

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