Neither better graphics nor an easy mode, the next big challenge for the video game industry is to fully embrace accessibility

I was thinking of starting this text with something nice to get your attention. Explain that the typewriter was invented to allow the blind to write and I can now communicate with you thanks to it … Some way to highlight what to think about accessibility It is a path in which all of us, disabled or not, end up benefiting from it.

It would be the most logical and elegant start possible, but the masks were off. Given that empathy and the common good are not usually the most effective strategies, let us not abandon the hope of making a dent in the rest of the population with something more effective: selfishness. You also need the accessibility in video games be the next big debate – believe it or not yet.

Disability is not just being completely blind or going in a wheelchair

To show a button. And I’m not going to go very far, I’m going to appeal to that selfishness and think only of myself: i feel old. Not old as an old man, of course, I am in the prime of life and my health is like a bull, but I feel older and older. And seeing that my parents are no longer what they were is, in a way, accelerating the process.

The years go by faster and faster, the back pain when I get out of bed is something I had never experienced before, 11 p.m. at night seems more and more like 3 a.m., and a few weeks ago I had a bad knee. three days to be dancing for a while at a party. What the heck is going on here and how far is this going to go?

Realizing that my self today is not going to have anything to do with my 30 year old one suddenly gives me tremendous vertigo. In the best of cases, what the future holds for me is being seven galaxies away from what it means to have a visual, hearing, physical, intellectual or psychosocial disability, but I think we are all aware of the extent to which our reflexes, sight, hearing or motor skills they won’t be the same.

Xbox

To better understand the situation regarding the disability in Spain just look at the data reflected by the Social Integration and Health Survey of 2012, in which a total of more than 6 million people with some degree of limitation in their social participation were listed, and compare them with those thrown by the State Database of Persons with Disabilities, which in 2019 listed a total of just over 3 million with an administratively recognized disability.

Well, having appealed to selfishness along with the common good, and having understood that not all disabilities mean being completely blind or going in a wheelchair – we do not usually count as such a color blindness, not knowing how to read, having arthritis, or even having a season with a broken arm, and all of them can affect your relationship with video games for short or long periods – let’s jump to the next question.

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Retirement games

Every time I buy a game that I know I’m not going to play, the idea of retirement games. Like those Game Pass games that you download with the intention of being able to dedicate some time to them when you have time, for me the Steam catalog is an investment in the future with which, when the time comes and my only obligations are to enjoy life, I I’m going to burn my retinas from playing so much.

And right there, with that absurd illusion of being able to dedicate to video games as much time as I want regardless of whether I have to get up early the next day or not, feeling old inevitably forces me to ask myself:

How many of those games will I not be able to play because my physical, visual, auditory or cognitive abilities will not allow me to play? comfortably?

If you are not affected by what for everyone should be a main concern within the medium and society in general, that people can enjoy video games comfortably despite whatever their conditions, maybe you should be amazed with your own navel should also end up reflecting that accessibility, sooner or later, ends up being everyone’s thing.

With this text we begin a series of articles that will arrive day after day throughout the week to address some of the most important questions of accessibility in the video game world, from its history in the industry to tools that make it easier for those who have not yet to play comfortably. Today, in particular, we have to try to put our particular ditch into a debate that has been taking the wrong path for a long time.

The Last of Us 2

Easier does not mean more accessible

Every video game must be the result of an artistic and playful vision in which what its creator wants the player to experience is reflected. It is your game and you do not have to have another type of difficulty if it is not the objective of that experience.

That said, my personal gratitude will be infinite to anyone who, within that experience, takes into account the possibility of adapting their idea to anyone who wants to enjoy it. And no, I will not fall into the comparison between Dark Souls and Celeste because I do not think that giving you infinite jumps or having a larger life bar means make the game more accessible.

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For some time now, we have been able to see how inclusion and accessibility have become a marketing tool for this type of group instead of a real approach to these problems. Formulated differently, your game it is not more accessible for having an easy mode even though you sell it that way to the general public.

Elden ring

In fact, it is very likely that your game will end up being worse by sticking to the simplicity of offering an easy mode without giving the idea a spin first. The accessibility specialist Ian Hamilton commented that the main change when designing a video game should be to be clear about what experience you want to offer and ask yourself what barriers are there that prevent the player from enjoying that experience.

A more accessible industry is closer than we think

Despite all the undeniably good it did Light blue In his day, it has been with the passage of time that he has ended up embracing additional problems that, apparently, were the same or easier to solve.

The assist mode that catapulted the accessibility debate and the difficulty in games it arrived without being accompanied by visual changes for color blind players, without warnings for users with epilepsy or anxiety, without the possibility of adapting the text for players with visual disabilities, without visual elements that complement or enable power “listen“That there is a secret in a room with more than a soundtrack when you get to it …

But it is not an isolated case. You could also put the arachnophobia of Grounded, the sparring fights in Cuphead, or the Zen / Freedom modes of countless survival games in the same bag.

Or very specific ideas that do not pursue embrace accessibility more earthy but highlight something that makes headlines well, or the bulk is drained by resorting to four changes in the lines of code so that your character does more damage and receives less.

Despite seeming to be the most logical option, the idea of remove barriers without tarnishing the experience It is still a pending issue for much of the video game world. It is surprising when what is usually requested are not particularly complex integrations or that require excessively lengthening a development or modifying the experience.

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They are guidelines as simple as including a font adapted for dyslexics or adding a remapping of controls. Ideas that we will get to know during the next few texts and that, although for many it may be a simple line in the options menu, for others it may mean the difference between being able to enjoy a video game or not.

So no, no Dark souls need an easy mode, nor Light blue It is a completely accessible game for making you invincible, but both can make a big change by doing very little. There is no technological leap or playable revolution that seems more important to me than tackling this challenge.

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