Gaming is growing more accessible

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Monday, 22 August 2016 16:08pm

Video gaming hasn’t always been notable for accessibility, but as the medium grows and matures, accessibility features are becoming more available. This is a welcome development in an industry that – at $90 billion a year – is now larger than movies and music combined.

Accessible gaming control pad

Accessible gaming control pad

Accessibility for users of all abilities has been a long time coming. As late as 2014, even such developments as a configuration for colour-blind users were noteworthy, but now the move towards accessible gaming has taken off.

Big-name game franchises such as Madden NFL are now including accessibility options, while some console games, such as Killer Instinct, have had time and money spent on them to ensure they can be played by blind users. Over the past few months, developer Blizzard has included controls to Overwatch that can be configured for users with cerebral palsy, while Uncharted 4 has a full menu section devoted to accessibility.

The most intriguing recent development is probably Deep Echo, which is completely playable by blind users. It uses sonar-like audio, enabling players to navigate a series of mazes using voice prompts and frequency of sound. The thoughtful gameplay is an early glimpse of what the mainstream future of accessible gaming could look like.

More developments in gaming accessibility were recently announced at EA’s E3 Gaming Conference, while Apple is shortly to release an accessible game that teaches users to code.

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