When it comes to accessibility options in video games, some companies have been quicker than others to acknowledge the need and introduce basic features into their games. While progress has been made over the past few years, there's still much room for improvement and even the most elementary of accessibility options can improve immeasurably the gaming experience for many players. Bespoke hardware like the Hori Flex and the Xbox Adaptive Controller enable gamers to adapt controls to their specific requirements, but there's plenty that developers and platform holders like Nintendo could do at a software level to improve things.
Below, legally blind gamer Chad Bouton writes about his personal journey and experience over the last few years, and evaluates the accessibility options of some of Nintendo biggest Switch games...
On June 19, 2020, the gaming industry saw the release of the first video game to be created for blind gamers from the ground-up. Naughty Dog’s, The Last of Us Part II was a look into what the future of gaming can be. However, what does the current landscape look like for disabled gamers wanting to play games now?
Let us go back to 1998. I will never forget seeing the title screen for Pokémon Red light up my Gameboy Color. I could have never imagined in that moment that one day my very own sight would be the reason for not being able to enjoy my favorite form of entertainment. Gaming to me is not a simple hobby, it is a way of life. Gaming has taught me more about the real world than any adult. It introduced me to complex emotions like love, friendship, sorrow, and hate.
Naughty Dog's commitment to making their games playable for all made me realize something: It is not that I cannot play games, it is that they are not made for those with disabilities
Losing my vision and my ability to play games has been hard to cope with. At eleven I was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, a genetic disease which causes one to gradually lose their vision. Ironically, my only solace during this time was video games. I know this sounds weird, but something that required me to be able to see was the one thing to help me through my depression — directly caused by my vision loss. Games allowed me to escape the reality of my predicament. Every moment I spent in the worlds of these games was a welcomed reprieve from my encroaching blindness.
In early 2019, after failing to complete Kingdom Hearts, I resigned myself to the harsh reality that gaming was no longer accessible enough for me to enjoy. However, the release of The Last of Us Part II reignited my passion for gaming. Naughty Dog's commitment to making their games playable for all — regardless of disability or play style — made me realize something: It is not that I cannot play games, it is that they are not made for those with disabilities.
I started thinking about the publishers, platforms, and their flagship titles. Were there already games slowly introducing accessibility options? If so, what accessibility options did the games offer? The first company I decided to investigate was Nintendo. I chose six Nintendo Switch games to assess and decide whether they offered enough accessibility options for someone with a severe visual impairment to play optimally.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch)
Breath of the Wild proved itself to be a perfect Switch launch title, and graphically Zelda has never looked more beautiful.
As for combat, melee attacks are easy to pull off and overall, not difficult to master. However, using the bow is quite infuriating. The lack of an auto-aim feature makes it difficult to pull off ranged attacks, and this missing feature means players with intermediate vision loss must stop and take time aiming the bow, all the while being attacked. I applaud the Zelda devs for introducing voice acting into the franchise, too; more voiced lines mean less time blind gamers must spend trying to guess at what is happening within the storyline. I am happy to see games looking across the disability spectrum, including subtitles for those with hearing impairment.
Though the game does a decent job of introducing accessibility features for the deaf, it misses the mark for those with visual impairments. Breath of the Wild puts a lot of emphasis on colors. These colors are applicable to Link’s various special abilities, items, and used to highlight objects throughout the game. As someone who also suffers from color blindness, I found it difficult to distinguish certain points in the game where color was used for emphasis.
Overall, Breath of the Wild does a lot of things great and is playable for those gamers living with disabilities.
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Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Switch)
The appeal of life sim games is their escapism. Life sims allow players of all abilities to leave the worries and struggle of the real world behind. During the height of COVID, Animal Crossing: New Horizons became a go-to game for many.
As I played, I struggled to find key accessibility options that made the game playable for those with vision issues. While immersive, it lacks functionality to allow the player to control game presentation. Tasks like fishing and digging are impossible due to the limited and uncontrollable size of visual cues. To catch a fish, you must keep your eyes on the bobber — easier said than done for the visually impaired. I did not bother fishing as I could never tell when the bobber had sunk.
However, fishing pales in comparison to digging. No deserted island game would be complete without digging up treasure. I believe it should have been easier for the visually impaired to dig. Even with jagged holes and spurts of water, the visual cues and small size made it difficult to locate where to dig.
While I found the game frustrating, there were things I enjoyed. First, the game gives you tons of advice for completing various tasks, and it is up to the player if they choose to follow said advice. The ability to attempt tasks multiple times was welcome and kept me playing, rather than getting frustrated and giving up. Being visually impaired, I appreciated the large font size, too — this is a major plus in my book, as Animal Crossing is text heavy and requires a lot of reading.
Overall, Animal Crossing needs some major updates to provide players the accessibility options needed for successful gameplay. That said, it is still a fun game for what it offers.
Pokémon Sword and Shield (Switch)
Of all Pokémon titles available on Switch, these are the most accessible. Within options, gamers can turn on “casual controls” that make it easier for players to play the games with one hand. This is great for gamers who have lost a limb or have a prosthetic limb. Additionally, Pokémon Sword and Shield allow players to turn off battle effects. Battle effects can be a bit too flashy and potentially overstimulate players with sensory issues.
Pokémon has always been a text-heavy game, with subtitles throughout. Given the other nods to accessibility, I do find these games lacking in their options for blind gamers. While some items on the ground are displayed in the world as Poké Balls, there are others in the Wild Area that are just 'sparkles'. Can these items not also be displayed as Poké Balls? I mention this, because sparkles become easy to miss for those with vision impairments — especially, now that walking and running kicks up dust. The lack of a 'physical' representation with the added environmental effects make it ever harder to find items.
No longer do we have audio cues that tell us when we hit invisible walls, either. Historically, when you entered off-limits areas, you would receive an audio cue making it sound like you had run into something. The loss of this long-standing audio cue is perplexing — why would you remove something so helpful to visually impaired gamers?
Pokémon has never been a game that is hard to play regardless of someone’s disability. If I had to pick one addition, though, since Pokémon games are mostly silent, it would be the addition of text-to-speech options.
Splatoon 2 (Switch)
Splatoon 2 is one of the more forgiving fast-paced shooters. A shooter where I don't get killed every five seconds? Sign me up! I know it defeats the purpose of most mainstream competitive shooters; however, I like that Splatoon does not focus on kills as the sole objective — in fact, you cannot 'kill' anybody. The main Turf Wars mode is simply about who can paint the most territory over time.
One concern I had was my color blindness. Will I be able to play this game and correctly distinguish the colors? Imagine my surprise when I discovered the color lock option, an option that all but eliminated my color blindness issues. I quickly learned that if I was uncertain if something were in my way, I would just try and paint it. If I thought there might be a pitfall, I could fire off some paint — if it disappeared, I would know there was a hole. The brighter clothing options also made it easier to identify my character and keep track of myself.
Splatoon earns big points in my assessment. I love having the option of using the analog sticks for aiming, and I appreciate how Splatoon alerts me if I have hit an opponent or not. When you hit an opponent, your paint will splat. Conversely, whenever an opponent hits you, the controllers will rumble – tactile response is a game changer. I wish the game had better text-to-speech capabilities, since most of the text with helpful information appears and disappears quickly.
Overall, Splatoon 2 was an easy play given my substantial vision loss.
Super Mario Odyssey (Switch)
When I first played Super Mario Odyssey, I had enough vision to complete the game with little assistance. However, I did not take the time to research accessibility options. Imagine my surprise when I discovered a slew of accessibility options while replaying the game to assess it for this article. I hate that I missed assist mode because it is extremely helpful!
The overall world size makes it intimidating to players with visual impairments. However, the heads-up display allows players to display blue arrows that point them to the next objective. This is big for me, because I constantly encounter open environments in games with little to no navigation options for blind gamers. Another excellent feature — the world map marks points of interest. Even if you do get stuck, the game offers advice and assists in advancing the player through the world.
Assist mode also helps players by offering extra health. Now you can recover your health by simply standing still. Resting, what a novel concept. I find this helpful for disabled gamers, as our reaction times are different from “normal” gamers. This option allows disabled gamers more room to adjust to their surroundings and succeed in their attempts.
As discussed earlier, I am a huge fan of haptic feedback and the vibration features in this game assist in locating secrets. This feature helps alert you to certain events and interactions you might otherwise miss visually. I enjoyed my most recent experience even more knowing that Mario Odyssey has so many accessibility options.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses (Switch)
As someone who had never played Fire Emblem before, I perceived this as an easy-to-play but hard-to-master series and thoroughly enjoyed Fire Emblem: Three Houses. I never found myself getting lost in the game. In fact, I found the calendar and event points system easy to manage — I knew what actions and responses I could make prior to making them. I do have to point out the games painfully small text size, a problem that I see with most Switch games, though this game is fully voice acted which makes the small text a bit easier to deal with.
Text size aside, I found Three Houses easy to play. The game has a single hub where most non-battle events take place, making it easy for blind gamers to memorize and navigate. Easily, the best feature in the game is the ability to zoom in on the enemy to view range, which lets you know if you are in danger or too close to the enemy. Moreover, it assists me with proper placement of my units, increasing their chances of survival.
Although Fire Emblem does not have any unique accessibility options, there is enough 'accidental' accessibility littered throughout this game that makes it possible to play even with a major vision disability.
And finally, the Nintendo Switch menus and UI
I have seen a lot of mixed opinions on the Switch’s UI. Some players dislike how empty the Nintendo Switch feels, while others like me are happy with the minimalistic approach.
Switch allows gamers to focus on the games. The only things lacking are an option for folders to clean up the screen and an option for text to speech. Instead, it uses audio cues as players move their Joy-Cons across the screen.
In System Settings are some essential options I believe all visually impaired gamers should take advantage of:
- Themes, which allows change of background and foreground colors. Options include Light (black on white) or Dark (white on black)
- Display colors that include default, inverted, and grayscale
- The Zoom feature
I find the best accessibility option for visually impaired players to be the Zoom feature. By selecting Zoom players can magnify their Switch screen by double pressing Home and using the 'X' and 'Y' to zoom in and out. Players can also use the Zoom feature during gameplay.
Other than lack of text to speech capability, I am marginally happy with the accessibility options available on the Switch console itself. Nintendo is just scratching the surface of accessibility options, though, and could lead the market with key accessibility updates if it put its mind to it.
I was surprised to find so many of my favorite Nintendo games with direct, usable, and 'accidental' accessibility options. I came away confident that Nintendo has the framework for quality accessibility options. Now all they need to do is to continue building upon what they have, provide additional options as discussed above, and work closely with the disabled gamer community to mature accessibility and inclusivity options.
If there is one major accessibility issue that applies to all of the games mentioned here, it's the lack of southpaw controls. Unless you didn't mind ignoring the buttons displayed on the screen and you remapped your controllers, none of the games have "left-handed" controls.
Personally, I'm not left-handed nor am I ambidextrous, but there are a number of people in the Zelda community who have complained about the Wii version of Twilight Princess as well as Skyward Sword for lacking a left-handed option.
I’m legally blind in my right eye, but when I hear people say gaming is a way of life, that worries me lol
I wouldn't say those mario odyssey ones are accessibility options, they are just there as in game gimmicks
I hadn't realized what a lot of these features meant for accessibility. I'll be looking at things from another perspective from now on.
Nintendo first party games are typically "my way or the highway" with nary an accessibility option in sight.
Auto aim’s a big one for my mum. Her fine motor skills really aren’t what they used to be, so heavy aim assist lets her play those sorts of cover shooters without having to either make her hands cramp or completely miss enemies.
You have legally blind ?
Oh, sorry to hear your condition.
How did you enjoy playing games with one eye ?
This was a fantastic article, thank you for sharing, NL.
As an able bodied gamer, I ignorantly rarely have thought about the accessibility of games beyond the adaptive controllers. I am glad to hear/read that Nintendo is already on its way to making its games more accessible, even if some features may be "accidental". The biggest game-changer it seems, from these reviews, would be a text to speech option. I hope this is something that Nintendo could release as part of a system update that would work on the main menus as well as within software.
Thanks for sharing, and bringing some focus back on the not too often talked about issue of accessible gaming. Here's hoping accessibility becomes more mainstream, in all facets of life.
@Anti-Matter Mine was the result of injuries, so I can see games out my left eye just fine. It’s not a color-based thing.
"Auto-aim" sounds a lot like "easy mode" so I'm not sure if it's a valid point. Besides that, it's mainly just language issues. When I was a kid I hardly understood anything any of the characters said in video games because my language simply wasn't supported, but I did just fine so IDK why we'd suddenly need more options on that regard.
Rhythm Heaven is basically it.
@Yhdekskymmenen lol, probably because there are numerous other people playing that need accommodations, and your experience does not denote the experiences of others. 🤦♂️
I didn't know Last of Us 2 had a "totally blind" mode, seems to me like one of those options that may seem a bit pointless, but if they managed to pull it off, kudos to them.
I agree that games need a lot more colorblind and vision impaired options though. Lack of text size options or UI scaling is often infuriating (one of the reasons I can't recommend Deep Sky Derelicts). And Pokemon is surely a big enough franchise to afford voice acting? Especially if you're going to make a singing Gym Leader and you already have character voices due to an ongoing anime?
@SuperCharr I feel like they should have some audio games for blind people, like something where you just listen for sounds or interactive stories or something. The whole concept of video games is the type of thing where it would work great for deaf people, but it seems like the worst thing for blind people to try to get into. An ability to see is generally central to enjoying them.
I think stuff like Ai Dungeon is more something for blind people that games like splatoon, animal crossing and what not. Those games do require you to see to aim or interact with the world and make the basic mechanics work.
What should be more of a topic is a visual radar for deaf people to "see sound" like footsteps. We're making great progress with special controllers for impaired and can bring great experiences thanks to VR in your home.
Some games do support colorblind functions, but blindness is hard to work with in most game types. I can't think of many games outside of AI Dungeon (if you want to call it a game) and stuff like boardgames or riddles/mysteries.
@Yhdekskymmenen sounds like priviledge.
Interesting article. I am colourblind myself so often think about accessibility in that respect. Occasionally you get puzzle games which are impossible so I avoid those - the problem is when they come up in unexpected places such as a puyo puyo boss fight in Sonic Mania I had to ask for help with!
It’s a shame there aren’t more games specifically for blind gamers. The medium is 99.9% visual and being unable to actually see what is happening is a huge uncrossable barrier for many titles.
Now we have next gen consoles with 3D audio and devices that can produce room-scale VR I wonder if there is space for audio-only titles that occupy a 3D space emulating the way a blind person would navigate the real world.
More accessibility for all! Yes!!!
No gamer left behind!
No, they aren't accessible at all....I mean...this is just taking inclusion to ridiculous extremes, what next? How accessible is Mario Maker to the dead?
TLOU2 is actually NOT the first game made for blind players. The first is Real Sound: Kaze no Regret, made all the way back in July 1997 because the president of the company got many letters from blind fans of their games, and strived to make a game both blind and non-blind people can enjoy equally.
This is fantastic!
Though I would prefer if people refrained from using terms like "able bodied".
Like the writer said himself: he is a gamer, but a disabled one. There is no need to make up an extra category.
I'm no stranger to visual impairment, being blind in one eye all my life, but this really hit home for me very recently when I started going blind in the other eye from cataracts. I didn't quite get to a point where I couldn't play any games at all, but a lot of games were unplayable by the time I had surgery early this summer.
People shrug this off with an "oh, well, we can't help it if you can't see the game" and there's some truth in that. But vision impairment is a thing that's going to matter to more and more gamers as the gaming population ages up. It's normal to have perfect or almost perfect vision when you're twenty, but by the time you're forty or fifty, chances are very good you're going to need increasingly strong glasses at least some of the time, and at some point you're also likely to develop cataracts. Sooner or later, more and more people are going to realise that these little accessibility features can literally make the difference between a gamer and someone who used to be a gamer.
The Zoom function on the Switch was a lifesaver. I used it constantly in the past year. A number of games, including Three Houses, would have been unplayable without it.
I wish more games used HD rumble cues. They don't just help immersion, they are a big help to visually impaired people.
Inaccurate article title as the person writing is not blind yet
@Deviant-Dork I know! It's like how can you possibly write an article covering this subject if you aren't actually blind? Good way to annoy actual blind people.
@Deviant-Dork Yo... Blindness, deafness, and verbal issues ( unable to speak properly) it's more often than not a varying degree of disability. It's not a binary either on or off type situation for most folks. I have one friend that is legally blind. She cannot drive, as she would probably hit curves and such too often, and it's unsafe, but she can recognize faces and people and see enough to get around by foot.
I have another friend that is partially deaf. She uses hearing aids and is only in her late twenties... She can converse with people just fine by phone and in person as long as there is not a lot of background noise, like a restaurant is practically impossible.
Myself I use the zoom function quite often as the game developers like to make text impossibly small. Never had this problem with old CRT games as they had to display stuff big enough, but now there is microscopic text in almost every game. Also when I play games like Hyrule warriors they need more map option sizes as the heads up map is just too darn small. Ugggg.
Also I really wish they would do screen readers and such more often.
@ModdedInkling As a left hander, that is very true. I found the Wii version of Skyward Sword almost unplayable.
If your response to this article is anything other than “blind people should have more options to play games” then…oof
@nukatha oh absolutely! You can play Rhythm Heaven with pretty much using audio-cues only although visual-cues can be helpful as well.
I remember years ago here in NL they published an article about a blind Nintendo fan that sent a letter to Nintendo about how awesome Rhythm Heaven is and Nintendo replied back in braille. Wholesome stuff. ☺
Umm what? How can their be a blind video gamer? I don't understand how that can be possible.
I guess this is the legal definition of blind? So just poor enough eyesight that it's considered to be a disability?
I clicked on this article thinking it would be able going into a game "blind" as in knowing nothing at all about it. I don't understand how a blind person could play any video game. It's no fault of their own, I'm not blaming them for it. I just don't understand how it could even be a thing.
Pokemon is babies first RPG
@BloodNinja "Why would we look at your eye? Is there something wrong with THAT weird eye?"
I hope you've seen that movie to get the reference Otherwise this will fall flat.
It fills me with joy to read that you can still play and enjoy these games. Even though many of these "accessibility" features probably weren't designed with a blind population in mind, they do help, and I don't think it would be incredibly difficult or time-consuming to add a few more and make the experience more pleasant and, well, accessible.
@JayJ "Video" is Latin for "I see".
@Ganner Hahah sorry, I haven’t but thanks for trying : )
@KiraMoonvalley Read the article.
This is a quality article. Please more of this content.
@Rhum17 I've been wondering, is there anything besides immersion that holding the Wiimote with the left doesn't fix?
@Helloworld117 They aren't exclusively visual, though audio is mostly dressing, not even to speak of rumble.
@Darlinfan Your analogy doesn't hold up.
If a wheelchair gets into a building, they're in the building, end of story. In a cinema, they can watch every movie.
It would be more fitting to compare a building to a single game and the console to the whole city.
I would have liked the article to examine 1-2 Switch, a game that prizes itself on not using the screen.
I'm curious how well that holds up.
What's even more disappointing is that Skyward Sword HD doesn't have left-handed controls, yet the Joy Cons were designed to be versatile enough for both hands.
@PtM I hold the Wii remote in my left hand because sword movements are too cumbersome in my right. The problem for me is utilizing the nunchuck in my right hand. I’m very used to controlling a character with my left thumb. I have the same issue with Metroid Prime Trilogy. Most say those games are the best FPS control-wise but I couldn’t master it.
@ModdedInkling Indeed, but at least the button-only controls are more accessible, at least for me. Controlling character movement with my right hand is unwieldy and combersome.
@Rhum17 Ah, I get your point. You never had to use your weak thumb for movement.
Not looking for an argument here, but just wanting to clarify... I used the term "able bodied" as it truly is a category, be that as a gamer, athlete, or human. As we are all human, and I dare to guess on this website gamers, but beyond that some are able bodied and some are disabled. That's all I was getting at.
But on the topic of refraining from using terms, I hope we can all agree "handicapped" is derogatory and shouldnt be used in any of its forms... Not you, Clarice, but I've seen it in the comments here.
I thought it was interesting that he found fishing one of the most challenging things to do as a blind person in ACNH, because I found it easier to fish if I look away from the screen! For me, watching the fish leads to false starts and I often accidentally pull the rod too early, whereas if I only listen for the bobber to dunk, and its accompanying haptic feedback, I have a way better batting average.
@Tott not to be ignorant, but how the heck is handicapped considered derogatory? I just see it as simply stating a fact.
Do enlighten me, I want to see your point.
@Tott saying we are all human sounds a bit speciest mate. 😉
On a serious note, I understand the idea behind what you are conveying but you know, these terms change every few years. I wouldn't be surprised if in a couple of decades we went back to the original bible mentioning of 'cripples' instead of handicapped, disabled, differently abled, handicapable you name it.
My specific point is, and my apologies to the fine author for derailing the topic this way, we don't need terminology for the standard. A chair that hasn't broken yet isn't a 'proper sittable chair', a cat that still has all four of its legs isn't an 'able bodied cat'.
Unfortunate as it is to be disabled, disabilities are not the norm so we don't need a name for what is the expected.
Haha fair enough 😅
And you're very correct, things change incredibly quick. Honestly any description followed by "person" or alike will be disrespectful to some, as things are heading toward person-first terminology. i.e. person with a disability/ who is blind.
But thank you, I appreciate the respectful back and forth here (while yes, we have gone on a tangent).
Accessibility and inclusivity is on the rise, and that's what really matters here. Cheers.
Just give it a quick google search, you'll find a number of things. Clarice rightfully mentioned how things change so dang fast, but that term has been outdated a little while now. (Maybe timing is different around the world — but in Canada it's been a while)
Excellent article and genuinely interesting.
They are legally blind. Look it up. 😒
@KiraMoonvalley That's on you, not on amputees who like to bike more than you.
@Danrenfroe2016 Yes this. I wish more people understood. My partner is legally blind. They can make out colours and shapes, and can read huge text close up.
Less than 10% of blind people see just black, with most having light perception, or being able to see shapes or having very little peripheral vision.
Sadly too many people are ignorant and judgemental. My partner uses a guide dog to get around, and you should see the looks we get when they use their phone in public. What they don't understand is they have all the accessibility features turned on, so they're basically seeing a couple letters at a time.
They also have a switch, and play some slow paced games using the zoom feature like ACNH.
@Clarice You need to contrast the norm from the deviation, you simply cannot use an overarching term as nomenclature for its major subset.
@ToniPSB I read that, which is why I said what I said. He isn't completely blind
@PtM the deviation is the contrast hence the need for specification. It used to be called normal but only the most rational among us would use that word still in the context of disabilities.
It is really bad luck to enjoy video-games and lose the ability to see. It would be like enjoying audio-books and losing the ability to hear or water-sports and losing the ability to get wet or hot-yoga without the ability to get hot. I don't know what video-games developers can really do about this though. There are other kinds of games that do not require being able to see. Games rather than video-games.
Yeah, some players are like that. While they can deal with "normal" controls, they can't use motion controls with their right hand.
I really do wish that Grezzo did more to Skyward Sword HD. It really turned out to be just a polished port of a Wii game.
Thank you to the amazing staff at Nintendo Life for allowing me to publish this article. A special thank you to editor Gavin Lane who made this all possible. Thank you to everyone who has read the article. Reading your comments has left me with a permanent smile. I love video games with all my heart. I still play them to this day. All I wanted from this article was to make people think. Are games inclusive to all their players? There is a lot being done currently to add accessibility too big AAA titles. However, these options are just scratching the surface. When you start gaming with perfect vision and then start losing your vision. All you want is to keep playing games, but we need help to do so fairly. The industry should continue building off the accessibility options that have been introduced. Everyone should have the ability to enjoy what they love no matter what their struggle is. Again, thank you all for the kind words. This article will live on forever as one of my greatest accomplishments.
The list of games I can't play due to colorblindness is too numerous to list. Undertale, Runbow, any game that uses white text that flashes letting you know what selection you're on (so like 85% of games). It's frustrating and I find myself replaying games I know I can play, usually retro games. It sucks getting excited about a game only to find that I can't scroll through the menu.
Doesn't all games now work with the system built-in zoom-function(x2 taps on home-button)?
You know...it would be neat for emulators if they could implement a 2nd screen option where the user could have the zoom-in feature permanently on the other screen. Of course could be more complicated, but also could allow implementation of only upscaling that zoom in case the base resolution isn't good enough for zoom-in. Then could also just make several horizontal window captures to have upper and low text windows zoomed-in at once.
Consoles could do that too, but I think the multi-screen situation would rule out a feature like that. Maybe stream it to a smartphone ala Wii U? Might be a neat feature.
Making accessible is great but there are cost and games can end up costing more or never become games. Everything has a cost and accessibility increases cost because increased R&D to build in accessibility. This isn't a simple as people would like to think. We all have to remember the majority if programmers are visual users themselves to start and they don't cheap. I think that's what alot on here tend to think which sadly isn't true and takes games years before the gamers see results. Gaming company have to make profits if any to survive and yet people go for the lowest denominator still. As to the terms by themselves aren't derogatory it's the people and how they use it to tear down those with disabilities that is disgusting. Some games could be become accessible but that is time/labor to do that. And then a disable person must be the tester for that reason to find the fixes to make it work and that can add time to any game releases or could scuttle the game completely if implementation can't be done.
@Chad_Bouton I'm happy you wrote it. I got a whole new level of appreciation for these challenges when I saw my world gradually disappear in the last year. It was scary as hell. I was this close to just giving up on gaming, and although that was hardly my biggest problem it mattered a lot to me.
Of course, I had a fixable and fairly common condition, and two surgeries later I'm back to only being blind on one side (which is not fixable) and somewhat farsighted on the other side. Thank you, doctors!
I hope you can continue to play!
At least one person here already mentioned it, but fishing in Animal Crossing games is probably the one thing I can do literally with my eyes closed.
The audio cue of the fish simply poking the bait compared to the PLOP sound of it actually biting is significant enough that I can catch any fish in New Leaf or New Horizons by sound alone. Usually the visual cue that is looking for when the fish bites would actually make it harder.
Sidenote: I need glasses and without even playing FE Three Houses I know that the text size is atrocious. Usually I can read gaming text with no problems but UGH, 3DS games have bigger text. Apparently it's a localisation thing. On the other hand, ACNH's MASSIVE text makes it so easy to read it's gorgeous.
Very interesting article
My son ( 3 years old ) has upper phase2/lower phase 3 CVI which is the most common yet one of the most least understood visual impairments in the developed world. He also is currently non verbal.
So we are on the outside looking in when trying to figure out what he sees. Often times for example he watches videos on his I pad sideways. Where the top is actually facing right and the left side of the I pad is on top. We often wonder how he can interact with computers and games later in life.
For anyone interested in CVI this is an excellent resource.
Who knows, maybe you can share it and help someone.
@frogopus very, very well said.
@Sooezz I do exactly the same thing, I essentially fish blind in Animal Crossing by not looking at the screen at all as the sound makes it far easier
@SmaggTheSmug The game already uses a listen mode to reveal enemies. I think they use an echolocation system so that even blind people can tell the location of enemies, along with various other auditory cues, like each weapon having a unique sound. Haven't really looked into it, but it's surprisingly effective. I know the game has a ton of accessibility options, something any dev should take note of.
My girlfriend got a premature cataract on her right (our left) eye when she was in the womb. Looking for something is, for her, much more of a "needle in a haystack" thing than for most of us. I can see that as her eyes start sorta-darting left and right when trying to look for something at a store; it's how I can tell she's trying to focus. Also, as I'm sure @BloodNinja can attest at this point, she compares a staircase's steps to a slide when having to walk down. That's why I'm there to say "step, step, step, step" as she has to walk down a staircase that's new to her. No depth perception is one hella harsh condition to deal with.
@Rhum17 " I have the same issue with Metroid Prime Trilogy. Most say those games are the best FPS control-wise but I couldn’t master it."
Hallelujah!! Someone else who has the exact same left handed issue i have. Pikmin3 on the WiiU was a massive issue for me using the stylus in my right hand and something which could easily have meen made accessible by adding a control flip. I feel you on metroid. I just cant grasp the trilogy with the motion controls but loved the cube version.
Removed - unconstructive
@AlexSora89 Yep, that's exactly how I was impacted. Oddly, training martial arts improved the depth perception from learning to block incoming attacks. It's much better now, but I still bump into stuff all the time, somewhat hilarious Perhaps your gf can try something like that, in a safe environment, to improve depth perception? I wonder if it would have a similar effect?
@Chad_Bouton that's great! Well done on writing and getting it published on here. Well deserved. (:
@wanghosom How? I did not demand games to suit my abilities when I was younger, despite the fact that I couldn't enjoy games fully because of their limitations.
@Darlinfan Ah, okay, you're talking about OS features, didn't come across the first time. I can get behind that.
@Clarice Only a Sith deals in absolutes.
@Yhdekskymmenen If you don't see the problem in comparing not knowing a language to not being able to see or hear you are extremely priviledged and offensive as well, not only the two things are not even remotely comparable, but guess what, you can wake up one day and decide to learn a new language, disabled people can't just decide to learn how to see and hear back again.
Think before writing, jeez.
@wanghosom If the issue is text and text alone (as the article suggests), there is no difference between not understanding a language or not being able to see the text.
Do you know how difficult it is for a kid to learn new language? I was learning English back then but still couldn't understand hardly anything in video games, especially when it came to spoken dialogue.
@Kidfunkadelic83 I wondered if the GameCube version controlled better. I’m hoping that if the chatter is true about the Trilogy coming to Switch, there will be a button-only option.
I’m not great with using a stylus in my right hand either. Kid Icarus Uprising was my experience with that, and if it wasn’t for setting it on easy, I couldn’t have completed it.
@Rhum17 yes, kid was another game i really struggled with.
As for prime on the cube, i got on with it alot better. No issues with it at all. A "controller only" option would be perfect and i would expect them to implement this method in to the switch to support pro controller use. It would be so awsome. MP3 would be an issue tho as it was built around the wiimote and nunchuck. Sure they could do something with it tho.
@PtM I don't watch Star Trek.
while I applaud the devs and peripherals manufacturers for taking disabled people into consideration, this "inclusivity" dream is unrealistic, someone will always be excluded and that's just a simple reality. like one commenter mentioned, growing up there were no games that supported my native language, there's barely any today. guess what? I played simple games I could understand until my English got better. never felt excluded because my language wasn't supported.
@ToniPSB Yes. Good info to share. I don't think the comments early in the thread were meant to be mean... But it's a little too dark of humor for this setting...
I seriously think that in high school they need to have a class that has older folks come in that have hearing and site disabilities and whatever other kind of disabilities they can come up with, so people can at least understand the disability and how to interact with them.
I learned a long time ago the best way to interact with somebody that has a disability is to interact with them exactly how you interact with other people at first.
Then let them communicate to me what I need to do to make it easier for them. Otherwise I will do the wrong thing and be condescending and treating them like an idiot basically.
We have two different family friends that have childs with severely limiting mental issues. And yeah they may not be "Smart" like a normal person, but they can sense when they're being talked about or talked over. It's common courtesy and should be taught to talk directly to the disabled person, their caregiver is there and will hear what they need to hear. But it makes the disabled person feel a whole lot better being talked to, instead of being talked around or about. They just don't have the ability to respond in kind. But I know they appreciate it deep down inside.
@DDFawfulGuy yeah I was really happy that animal crosses and kept the large text, yeah it may look a little funny on a 92 inch projection screen but damned if I can't read it on any size device LOL.
@Heavyarms55 I'm a gamer and movie guy that loves spatial audio, DD 5.1 and now my Dolby Atmos 5.2.4 setup is amazing. There is some audio demos out there that can easily be turned into games if somebody would do it, it's a really weird feeling to be hearing objects fly around the room in a well-built Dolby Atmos set up with sound absorption on the walls. I think it could be done but I don't know if it would be something that could be turned into like a full featured game more like a mini game.
I'm not sure I would be able to play video games if I went blind. It's gotta be very frustrating.
I’d like to see larger text options. This is especially problematic with rpg menus. The zoom feature is annoying. Oled switch helps a bit but some games use the smallest font possible making handheld mode useless. I’m not blind either just a bit older.
I really appreciate seeing articles like this, written by people with disabilities, talking honestly about gaming with disabilities. I've been disabled since I was 14, and have found incredible solace in gaming over the years. There have been many times a few small tweaks have made a game I otherwise wouldn't have been able to play accessible to me. The sense of joy you feel when you realize that the people who made this game cared enough to make sure that as many people as possible could play it is amazing. Not having to miss out on an experience you really want to have because of an Illness or circumstance you cannot control is a beautiful thing. Accessibility improvements in gaming can literally change lives- Everyone, no matter if they're disabled or able bodied, deserves to have a hobby that makes them happy.
Nintendo may have some of the best first-party games ever created, but accessibility is where Sony and Microsoft beat Nintendo in spades. The Last of Us Part 2 and Forza Horizon 5 have some of the best accessibility options that have ever been put in a video game. Microsoft's adaptive controller is a work of genius.
Nintendo's games and UX don't even come close.
@B_Lindz Nintendo’s accessibility comes from the fact my 3 year old has figured out how to botw, Mario. He runs around hyrule with my character, maxed out, beating enemies. My 5 year old can take down shrines and the divine beasts with me helping him along. My 10 year old is better then me and beats Ganon taking no damage, parrying most attacks. And then you got me, old man who acquired the bike on hard mode with some struggling. sorry to those who are blind, Nintendo is not thinking of you for its 100 hour action adventure game. But as far as I’m concerned, zelda is more accessible then pretty much anything we want to play on our ps/Xbox.
@Heavyarms55 The legal definition of "blind" is having 20/200 or less vision even with the best corrective lenses, so it doesn't have to be 100% blind, but 90%-100%. You can't deny that's still a major disability compared to normal vision.
Also, true 100% blind video gamers do exist. Mostly acquired blindness. Imagine YOU went blind yesterday due to illness/accident. You probably still memorized where things are in a game you already were playing, and your brain will start to be hypersensitive to the in-game audio cues and haptic feedback, that sort of thing. You probably can type on a keyboard with your eyes closed, right?
While they do need outside help to learn a completely new game, it is totally possible.
"On June 19, 2020, the gaming industry saw the release of the first video game to be created for blind gamers from the ground-up."
It was called Bit Generations: Sound Voyager for the Gameboy Advance and it was awesome. Closing your eyes with headphones was the way it was intended to be played, and it came out in July 27, 2006. No fancy 3d graphics or gameplay made for people with great eyesight and 4k tvs, this game was made from the ground up for blind people.
Dropping this here in case others need it - Rock-Paper-Shotgun's top 7 audiogames:
If I was blind, having a 3D spatial audio racer where you can hear the walls, or an audio-only RPG, or voiced text-based adventure game is what I would look for. Here's where you can find some of the best.
Moral of the story: No text to speech capability.
@HADAA You ask me to imagine playing a game that way and frankly I cannot imagine that. There is no game I could imagine playing in that way.
I am not just brushing you off. I can't imagine that working. Not in any game I have ever played.
@Heavyarms55 There are things I can't imagine as well like deaf musicians or total limb amputees. And that's fine. Acknowledging and respecting the fact that people with various disabilities have found ways to enjoy things they like, is all that matters.
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