Saturday, 25 May 2024

Accessibility Buyer’s Guide

During Spike TV’s Video Game Awards, Stevie Wonder surprised the crowd of game developers and journalists with one request: make games that can be enjoyed by people with disabilities. While this may have been the first time some viewers have heard about game accessibility, it is a topic that’s been advocated for years and is slowly gaining recognition. Even though most mainstream games still do not include accessibility features including (but not limited to) color blind modes, closed captioning, and reconfigurable controls, there are resources available that can help.

Games

There are several games that have been developed with accessibility in mind. These games aim to provide an inclusive gaming experience for players of all abilities. Here are some notable examples:

My Football Game

My Football Game

VTree LLC and EA Sports have created a football game accessible to players with physical and developmental disabilities. My Football includes adjustable speed settings and accommodates gameplay based on performance. The game is compatible with Xbox 360 controllers as well as adaptive gaming devices. The game also supports one to two players.

EASe Funhouse

EASe Funhouse

Designed for children with Autism, EASe Funhouse sets players on a treasure hunt across six unique rooms. The game produces auditory and virtual vestibular stimulation and encourages children to participate in fun therapeutic activities. It includes treasures such as word cards, images of human expressions, colors, shapes, and more.

Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove

Mystery Case Files

Dire Grove is one of the Mystery Case Files titles by Big Fish Games that offer closed captioning for the Deaf and hard of hearing. It is a point-and-click adventure game where players solve puzzles to uncover the mystery surrounding the disappearance of four graduate students.

Audiogames.net

Audiogames.net

Audiogames.net offers a wealth of audio games for the visually impaired, most of which are free. The games rely on audio cues for instructions, feedback, and navigation. It is a great resource for gamers with visual impairments and the legally blind.

Game Controllers

In addition to accessible games, there are also specialized game controllers available to enhance the gaming experience for players with disabilities. Here are some notable examples:

Dream-Gamer Switch Adapted PlayStation Controllers

Dream-Gamer Switch Adapted PlayStation Controllers

These switch-adapted controllers can be used with all PlayStation consoles. The Dream-Gamer line offers different controllers that adapt to a wide range of mobility impairments. For example, there is a baseball cap controller that allows players to control on-screen action with head movements.

Natural Point’s SmartNav 4: AT Hands-Free Mouse

Natural Point’s SmartNav 4: AT Hands-Free Mouse

This hands-free mouse alternative allows complete control of your computer’s cursor simply by moving your head. The system uses an infrared camera to track head movements through a reflective marker. It offers multiple options for clicking as well, making it suitable for users with mobility impairments or carpal tunnel syndrome.

One-Handed Game Controllers

One-Handed Game Controllers

Ideal for users with a paralyzed hand or limb, temporary injury, or carpal tunnel, there are several options available for one-handed controllers compatible with the original PlayStation and PS2. These controllers are designed with all buttons ergonomically configured for single-hand use.

Broadened Horizons Sip & Puff Controllers

Broadened Horizons Sip & Puff Controllers

The Sip & Puff controller is designed for users with severe mobility impairments. It has a mouthpiece that operates as a joystick, and six button switches triggered by three holes in the mouthpiece. It also has four lip buttons, and start and select buttons triggered by a second mouthpiece mounted on the side. The controller covers all buttons on standard controllers.

Movies, Books & More

In addition to accessible games and specialized controllers, there are also movies, books, and other resources available for the gaming community. Here are some recommendations:

Second Skin

Second Skin

This indie documentary takes a look at three sets of PC gamers whose lives have been positively changed by MMOs. It includes the stories of two disabled gamers whose outlook on life has changed as they’ve been able to lose themselves in these online worlds and engage in activities that they wouldn’t be able to partake in otherwise.

Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks: An Epic Quest for Reality Among Role Players, Online Gamers, and Other Dwellers of Imaginary Realms

Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks

This book by ex-D&D addict Ethan Gilsdorf explores what it means to be both a nerd and an outsider. It discusses fantasy role-playing games and includes a chapter on accessibility. Follow Gilsdorf as he goes on a quest in search of other people who are into gaming, Tolkien, costume-wearing, and more.

Trabasack

Trabasack

The Trabasack is a lap tray with a firm surface to place laptops or alternative controllers. It doubles as a bag for convenient storage and is designed to provide extra lap comfort.

Web Resources

There are several web resources available for those interested in game accessibility. Here are some valuable websites:

FAQs

  • Q: Are there more accessible games available?
    • A: Yes, there are many more accessible games available. These are just a small sampling of what’s out there.
  • Q: Where can I find more information about accessible gaming communities?
    • A: AbleGamers and Deaf Gamers are notable communities for accessible gaming.

Conclusion

Game accessibility is an important topic that advocates for creating inclusive gaming experiences for people with disabilities. While mainstream games may still have room for improvement, there are resources available, such as accessible games and specialized controllers, that can enhance the gaming experience for players of all abilities. Additionally, movies, books, and web resources can provide further insight and support. By continuing to raise awareness and advocate for accessibility, the gaming industry can continue to make progress in creating a more inclusive gaming community.