Designing accessible video games. While there has been a movement towards… | by Camryn Manker | Feb, 2024

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Video games are not just a form of entertainment; they’re a powerful medium for storytelling, social interaction, and immersive experiences.

There are plenty of reasons why people choose to spend their free time gaming. To start, they are a way to escape reality and connect with others despite any distance that may be between them. I could start listing out all of the possible reasons why someone might want to game, but that would be an entire article itself.

Everyone should be able to enjoy the unique and immersive world of gaming, but unfortunately that isn’t the case for many games. While there has been a movement towards accessible game design in these past few years, we still have a long way to go.

Plenty of games are implementing some accessibility settings and features, but few companies have the time, budget, and ability to make games as fantastically accessible as The Last of Us Part II.

That being said, it’s important to have conversations around accessibility and build it in from the start. I understand that intricate settings menus might not be possible for every game, especially for smaller studios.

As someone currently working at a small indie studio with zero budget, trust me, I get it.

Designing your game to be accessible helps out ALL players, as many of the features designed for accessibility are widely used by players of all abilities.

Take subtitles, for example. Obviously subtitles are an extremely useful tool for players with hearing disabilities, but they are also commonly used by players without.

“…according to Ian Hamilton’s data, roughly 60% of gamers use subtitles for various reasons: hearing disabilities, low-quality audio hardware, the randomness of the audio in the games, etc.” — 80 Level

Note: This article only covers a sliver of how to design an accessible game.

If you are interested in a more comprehensive list, check out the Game Accessibility Guidelines.

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