Most accessible mainstream game of 2011 announced

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Wednesday, 25 January 2012 04:09am

The AbleGamers Foundation has named Star Wars: The Old Republic the 2011 Accessible Mainstream Game of the Year, rewarding its publishers for considering the needs of players with disabilities in the game’s design. The AbleGamers Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation that works to increase access to digital entertainment for people with a disability.

The PC game developed by BioWare, Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR) lets you play a character from the Star Wars movie series. Players are posed with questions that, once answered, drive the plot of the game. The massive multiplayer game allows players to play with and against each other online.

There are often accessibility barriers in mainstream games that make them difficult, if not impossible for people with a disability to play. Lack of captions, colour contrast, and quick response times are just a few of the barriers often encountered.

According to the AbleGamers Foundation, SWTOR has been awarded Accessible Mainstream Game for 2011 based on accessible merits such as “full subtitles, multiple action bars, area looting, auto looting, and built-in mouse sensitivity”. The ability to adjust colours for colour blindness and options to use either on-screen keyboard or mouse navigation also adds to the list of accessible merits. Common keyboard and assistive technology shortcuts have been repurposed within the game when using on screen keyboard or mouse control.

The game’s addition of the companion feature has been highlighted the winning factor. The companions in SWTOR are non-player computer characters that accompany the player throughout the game, providing “support to those who need it without forcing them to request help from other players”.

AbleGamers said areas in which SWTOR could improve include adding closed captions for ambient sounds and modification features so that users may change the user interface by moving graphic elements around the screen and text sizes to cater to individual needs.

In an earlier accessibility review SWTOR was given an 8 out of 10 rating for mobility, 9 out of 10 rating for visual accessibility and a 9 out of 10 rating for hearing accessibility. The game is compatible with Windows XP, Vista and 7 and is available to download from the Star Wars: The Old Republic website.

More information on accessible gaming can be found on the Media Access Australia website.

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