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Encourage game developers to avoid excluding gamers with disabilities

More than 20% of gamers have some form of disability, from colourblindness and dyslexia to deafness and cerebral palsy.

But many are often excluded from enjoying games through trivial design decision. The reason is usually a simple lack of awareness on the developers' part, no-one intentionally sets out to exclude people.

A few examples of common easy design considerations that can help many people are:

- Allow buttons to be remapped
- Don't rely on colour alone to convey information
- Provide a subtitle option
- Avoid tiny low contrast text
- Allow players to advance through text at their own place / according to their own reading speed
- Provide separate volume controls for music, speech, sound effects and background noises

So you can see that these are generally just about giving players a bit of customisation or reinforcing information in more than one way, which makes gamers better for all players, regardless of whether they're disabled or not. And if thought about early enough in development, they're also often cheap and easy to do, certainly enough to make it a worthwhile effort.

Although XBox do not make games themselves, they do have a set of requirements that all game developers must meet in order to publish a game on the system - these are called TCRs (technical certification requirements), and include things like 'games must not crash' and 'any opening cinematic more than 20 seconds long must have a skip button'.

So these guidelines could be used to enourage developers to think about accessibility for disabled gamers.

That's the important thing, 'encourage' rther than 'require', as what's possible and sensible varies from game to game. Even just a single line in the requirements like this would make a huge difference, letting developers know that disabled gamers are even a thing and that there are easy ways to include more people:

"Make reasonable attempts to avoid unnecessary exclusion of the 20%+ of gamers who have disabilities, through considering best practice guidelines such as from the earliest stages of development, and include people with impairments in playtesting whenever possible"

This could be reinforced by allowing some of these preferences to be saved at a system level, in the same way that controller inversion is.

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  • HyruleBalverine commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Good luck. And I mean that seriously, not sarcastically. I have a number of color blind people in my family, so I totally get it.

  • GrowlingYapper commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I'm not disabled but agree with the OP, A start would be for devs to employ more disabled people in game and hardware development.

  • Atomic Shrek commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Black ops 3 has options for three different forms of color blindness that completely changes small things. From the hit-markers to the indicators on the mini map, it helps.

  • MolarCorn110585 commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Awareness is a big problem but a company like Microsoft Should be ashamed of themselves Especially of what they are doing now By showing us that near raider works perfectly In The home screen But when you start a game Somehow narrator can't read text anymore I guess it has trouble seeing like me or is it the Company not wanting to expand it like they should In order to help all them people That you were talking a bout

  • IanHamilt0n commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    The TCRs are internal requirements that Microsoft set for people developing for them.

    They aren't allowed to be shown to the public, but they are 100% visible to every developer. They're rules, developers are quite literally are not allowed to release their game until MS have checked that every requirement is met.

  • SightlessKombat commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I believe that part of the problem is the TCR's aren't publicised enough. Killer Instinct, for example, has cutscenes that are more than 20 seconds long and (as of this moment), I haven't found a way to skip them. I think the first step would be to get the TCR's publicised and then update them,. Alternatively you could do it the other way round - update the guidelines now and then publicise them to make game developers think about what they're doing, hopefully at least. Could you put a link in so that everyone could view the TCR's for ourselves?

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