For several years, accessibility has become a value widely taken into account in video games to support players with disabilities. Giants like Xbox, PlayStation, Electronic Arts or even Ubisoft want to do everything to make it “normalized” and no longer an extraordinary addition.
In recent years, accessibility has become a parameter much better taken into account in video games, driven by Xbox and PlayStation in particular, but also by publishers such as Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, Square Enix and many others who have integrated this dimension from the design of their latest games.
Making a game accessible is a raging debate, even among the players concerned. Because there is not one or two types of disability, but rather several. Different versions, different approaches and specific to each. Because each person already tames theirs differently on a daily basis like the video game.
SEVERAL HANDICAPS TO TAKE INTO ACCOUNT
It is impossible to make a game that meets the specific needs of everyone, a game accessible on demand. In a few years, the vision of accessibility has gone from the idea of making larger subtitles, visual effects to better see enemies or menus with voice help, to the possibility of adjusting command parameters. , the vision for the different types of color blindness, or to adjust the difficulty according to the game sequences.
If all this is now possible, it is also because the most involved publishers and manufacturers are pushing the entire industry to mobilize even before the first lines of code of a game. And not only at the end of the design of a game. a game. “ Not everyone understood that video games were already accessible. It’s also our role to show it, in the features we offer, our games, the hardware, etc. It is changing and it feels good, ” explains Ina Gelbert, head of Xbox France. “ The real message is there: people with disabilities and those around them need to be made aware of the fact that they can play video games with ease . »
An opinion shared by Chris Bruzzo, Chief Experience Officer at Positive Play, the unit that notably oversees accessibility in Electronic Arts games: “ All games can have accessibility functions. Major consoles like PlayStation or Xbox, platforms like Steam or our own EA Origin platform now have settings that then apply to all games for contrast, brightness. It’s already a great start and it should be the minimum to provide players for any game .
MORE AND MORE VARIED GAME OPTIONS
Games everywhere are starting to add accessibility settings that blend into their traditional game menu. At Ubisoft, we have had an Accessibility Manager for several years so that the notion of a game for everyone is firmly in our minds from the first lines laid down on paper of a future blockbuster. Far Cry 6 has thus displayed an impressive menu offering multiple settings to balance the odds, regardless of the player’s handicap and even its specificity.
Ubisoft has made its accessibility menu in Far Cry 6 a settings menu like any other, as you can see in this video below.
Proof that the subject is taken seriously at Square Enix too, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy had even revealed its various accessibility parameters on a page dedicated to the title before its release, in particular offering a slowdown in game speed to facilitate sequences of combat according to his needs and his handicap. A function also integrated into Forza Horizon 5 allows you to better control your vehicle when you do not necessarily have the same reflexes and physical abilities as able-bodied players.
In the US, Xbox and Playground Games have also added sign language translation during cutscenes. An interpreter then intervenes on the screen to translate the dialogues. An innovation whose usefulness can be debated, but which has the merit of trying new things and the people concerned have welcomed the gesture (in France, it will still be necessary to wait before having access to it).
A controller, games, but also a global philosophy to shake up the industry: Xbox continues to move the video game sector in this direction. To help players find their way around, the Microsoft Store now indicates an Accessibility section on a game’s sheet to immediately find out about the options integrated into the game in the event of a physical, motor, visual or hearing disability. Labels let you know at a glance. And a menu in the online store groups the games with the best accessibility options.
PLAYSTATION FOLLOWS SUIT
Help developers, but also players to find their way by improving console settings, Xbox is not the only one to have thought of it with its Xbox Series X | Xbox. Lagging behind initially, PlayStation catches up with a big boost. The PS5 has been given real parameters related to accessibility . In the footsteps of the Naughty Dog studio ( The Last of Us Part II , Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End ) fierce defender of the subject , other PlayStation studios have taken over and equipped their games with many settings, like Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart , a luminous game worthy of an animated film which has been able to adapt in particular to players with sight problems.