Gaming For Everyone: Game Accessibility Guidelines

I’m pretty amazing at taking things for granted. I can easily hold the remote in one hand, and a fork in the other, as I kick the cat out of the way to watch Paralympic athletes with significantly fewer limbs than I being far better at activities than I’ll ever be. And so it is that I have given very little thought to how gaming might be needlessly impeded for disabled gamers. Which means I’m grateful to have received information about a new research project called Game Accessibility Guidelines.

The project is focused on the accessibility of gaming for gamers with disabilities, and hopes to communicate to developers what slight and simple changes or additions can be made for their products to be far more available to a significant proportion of their audience. Referencing research from PopCap, they say that around 20% of casual gamers are disabled – a very sizeable section of the audience – along with pointing out that 15% of adults have reading ages of below 11, and almost 10% of male gamers are red/green colourblind. People who might not have comfortable access to games because of easily changed settings.

The project has been driven by games designer and “accessibility specialist” Ian Hamilton, who wants to create a central resource that helps developers avoid simple, unwitting mistakes, that make all the difference. It can be as simple as ensuring controls are properly reconfigurable, or changing text settings so they disappear from the screen after a click, rather than on a timer.

A promising sign about the guide is it’s pragmatic as well as idealogical. It doesn’t pretend that developers aren’t going to worry about cost, and it factors that into its suggestions. And obviously it points out that being accessible to more people means more people to buy games, alongside just the general basic decency of taking as many people as possible into consideration. It’s broken into three sections, Basic, Intermediate and Advanced, giving what look like clear instructions and suggestions for improving games. The Basics are mostly as simple as (and let’s be clear – in the world of PC gaming, you cannot be too basic when pointing out the blatantly obvious for sensible menus and UIs) offering difficulty levels and saving settings. But others are slightly less intuitively known. For example, under “Use simple clear language”, it says,

Aim for as straightforward language as your copy style allows, for example “Click below to save your character” rather than “If you click below your chosen character preferences will be saved”

Intermediate suggestions rather entertainingly trample all over various debates, such as suggesting there be both manual and autosaves in any game. Amen! At least have it be an option, even if you believe it’s breaking your holy game (I’d go further here, as I’ve raged about before). And maybe best of all, they suggest avoiding quicktime events! Good heavens, forget this being for disabled gamers – this is for everyone! They even endorse always including a windowed mode. This is basically a manifesto for all of us.

Advanced takes things to a different, more expensive level, with suggestions like having “every relevant category of impairment” be represented during play-testing. It includes ideas for how to make games playable by those with Parkinsons, for example:

“Conditions such as Parkinsons, essential tremor and cerebral palsy can reduce likelyhood of defined single presses, with slippage or shakiness common. This can result in unintended multiple presses, which can be a significant issue if interacting is already a drawn out process. If aiming for elderly or motor impaired players, including a simple cooldown period where no further input is recognised for a short period afterwards can avoid this.”

Many of these are impractical for various genres, including the suggestion of avoiding unexpected movement or events, which can cause issues for autistic gamers. But the point they make is, if it’s not actually a necessary mechanic for your game, why not avoid it?

It seems a really helpful, realistic and clear resource, and one it would be fantastic to see developers taking into consideration with their plans. It’s far too easy to dismiss disabled gamers as a minority when developing, but you know what? Dismissing minorities – that’s generally considered a not very good thing.


  1. Premium User Badge

    Aerothorn says:

    I’m all over this. At the very least, time and time again I’ve seen games make amateurish, unnecessary decisions in color usage that outright prevented me from playing the game due to my colorblindness (protanopia).

    • Premium User Badge

      Aerothorn says:

      The reading speed accomodations are also very important – I have a good friend who can’t play many games because she has a very slow reading speed, and the windows time out before she can finish.

      • Hoaxfish says:

        With loading screen hints this gets a bit counter-productive.

        Loading screens should be minimal time, because you want to load as fast as possible.
        But you’d obviously want enough time to read the hint.

        Any game, like RPGs, with a chat/event-log can helpfully drop the hint into the chat-log after loading is successful… not sure what other non-“chatty” games can do.

        • Boozebeard says:

          That’s pretty easy to fix, you just add a press any key to continue prompt on loading screens instead of automatically exiting them.

          • Hoaxfish says:

            Frankly that seems a bit too “in favour” of the hint, at the cost of smooth loading… by forcing interaction with a rhetorical question.

            You’re asking “Do you want to continue playing? Yes or Yes” (or “Press Start” before the main menu), keeping the player on what should be the briefest of screens.

            Both you, and the player, generally want the screen out of the way (especially if it’s a previously seen hint), and the game playable.

            A hint’s “persistance” (chat-log, hint journal, maybe staying on-screen even after the loading screen has disappeared) essentially could separate the hint from the “loading”, breaking the counter-productive nature of the opposing goals.

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          • Seraph says:

            I disagree. On many occasions I have been reading a loading screen hint/story vignette and had it disappear before I came even close to finishing. This is very frustrating! I consider myself to be a fast reader, but all too often I am forced to decide between reading the loading screen text with the foreknowledge that I am going to be prematurely cut off, giving the text a cursory glance, or ignoring the text altogether. Indeed, I have taken to pathetic stratagem to finish reading these evanescent passages, mentally “bookmarking” where I left off and attempting to continue from there when the message returns. That a game developer would put text in a game without giving their players sufficient time to read it indicates that they (1) expect players to have the reading capability of Johnny 5, (2) did not adequately play-test the game, or (3) (most likely) consider loading screen text throwaway filler and do not expect anyone to really read it, none of which is particularly endearing or demonstrative of consideration for the player experience. Giving the player a continue prompt at the loading screen, such as “Press ENTER to Continue” is a solution that works for many reasons:
            – Players can read at their own pace without being made to feel rushed or incompetent. Developers can even include a “Press [blah] for Next Tip/Lesson/Story” so Johnny 5 does not get bored.
            – Loading screens can act as organic “pause-points”.
            – It is very easy to implement.
            Quite simply, if a game gives players something to read, it should give them enough time to read it. Since players will read at different rates, or at times will want to reread or think about what they have read, the best decision is to give the player the power to decide when they have finished.

          • Cooper says:

            The easiest solution is to have the library of ‘hints’ accessible from the game’s main menu. A fair few games have started to do this.

            If you’re going to go through the trouble of wirting hints for the loading screen, include them in an accessible (searchable?) list…

        • Baines says:

          Two solutions to that:

          1) Have a text speed option that affects how long loading screen tips are displayed.

          2) Give players the ability to actually call up the list of loading screen tips to browse at their leisure.

          I read rather fast, but some games load fast as well. I’ve sometimes seen game/hardware combinations where the game loads almost immediately after the first tip is displayed. Regardless of your reading speed, it is really annoying when you only get a bit of a tip and think it might have been something important that you didn’t know.

        • Hmm-Hmm. says:

          Loading screens shouldn’t provide (essential) information you cannot otherwise get from the game. Much better to have a hints system, a good tutorial a help guide and the like. This way nobody will truly miss out anything on a loading screen nor have to wait or click to continue from a loading screen.

          Perhaps there are people who really want a click to continue part of a loading screen (perhaps people who take frequent breaks) but that could be an option, like, say, subtitles.

          But in-game text should really be possible to read on your own time. That is, clickable. That makes it better for fast readers (who may have to wait for scrolling text and the like) and for slow readers. Now I am thinking about it, I’m fairly astounded this isn’t standard business practice in the gaming industry.

    • martoq007 says:

      I really like this concept. As a Gamer who suffers from Chronic Arthritis and Gout I really like this and support its use by developers.

      • tumbleworld says:

        Yeah, I’m riddled with arthritis. Twitch gaming? Forget it. Lots of leaping around in combat? Only after serious painkillers. Something as basic as an ‘easy’ mode would make a HEAP of difference.

        In fact, one of the reasons I gave up on TSW was that the (horrible) combat was too balanced towards you running around like an ADD-addled chicken continually.

        • stupid_mcgee says:

          No arthritis yet, but when it kicks in it’s probably going to wreck my life. Two broken wrists, multiple broken fingers, and a twisted middle finger at the middle knuckle. My right wrist has been broken and not properly set for over a decade (I’ve learned to live with it) and my left was broken and set via surgical pins and wire a few days under a year ago. For the most part, I can still play games, but some things are kind of rough. Rocket jumping in TF2 can sometimes be really painful, so I don’t play Soldier anywhere near as much as I used to. The 360 controller is very uncomfortable and painful, as well.

          I actually know quite a few people who love games but have gameplay issues due broken fingers, cut nerves, severed tendons, etc. There’s a lot of us out there and I think a lot of game designers rarely think about these issues unless they personally know someone who suffers these issues.

    • stupid_mcgee says:

      Yeah, color blindness is a big deal that a lot of people don’t think about. On average, 1 out of every 10 white males is afflicted is red/green color blindness aka: protanopia.

      I remember reading an article several years back about a commercial artist who has to have an assistant to to make sure that he’s actually using the right color that he wants. He does vibrant, tattoo-style art similar to Ed Roth, so he typically just uses flat applications of vibrant colors.

  2. Noc says:

    I appreciate the subtle commentary that the above graphic provides: you need to make some decisions about how accessible you want your game to be, because you can’t please everyone, as illustrated by the fact that if you put three gears together like that they don’t turn.

    I am going to assume that this is clever and intentional and not just a side effect of a graphic designer not understanding or caring how gears work, because that would be silly.

    [Edit: actually hold on nevermind, upon closer reading they aren’t talking about that at all: “intermediate” and “advanced” refer to more specific and significant accessibility considerations, as opposed to steepening the learning curve to cater to gamers who prefer the challenge of figuring systems and mechanics out for themselves, rather than having everything clearly explicated for them. Which, while arguably a case where “inaccessibility” is actually a mark in the game’s favor, isn’t what this is about at all.

    Which returns us to “Guys, gears don’t work that way.”]

    • Mr. Mister says:

      Lol I noticed the three-gears problem too… And I’m quite convinced it’s the graphic designer’s fault.

    • John Walker says:

      The £2 coin in the UK has a ring of interlocking cogs, “representing the evolution of technology from the Iron Age to the Internet”, they said at the time. There are 19 of them.

      • 9of9 says:

        There’s actually an interesting story behind that one, from what I’ve heard. It’s supposed to be showing a clever exception to the rule: an odd-numbered cycle of gears will grind to a halt, except if it’s arranged in a möbius strip. The problem with the coin is that it er… doesn’t really convey the whole möbius strip idea very well at all =/

    • Hoaxfish says:

      Aren’t you assuming the all 3 cogs are on the exact same plane?

      Off-setting at least 1 of them “into” the image, and stretching another cog’s width so it touches the other cogs would allow it.

    • Didero says:

      I’m slightly disappointed in myself that I didn’t notice the fact that the cogs don’t work this way…

      • stupid_mcgee says:

        lol I think it’s more of just an engineering nitpick kind of thing. Yeah, the designer most likely did that because it looks nice, but also because there’s 3 different tiers with each tier being a slightly bigger gear being bolded. The bigger the gear, the more work and strain is needed for a full rotation. At least, I think that’s what the intention is supposed to be. But, yeah, the arrangement of the gears would not be realistically functional.

  3. Mr. Mister says:

    It’s funny how the snob opinion on QTE is just “they’re bad game design”. I mean, there are games which either just take points from you for failing them or have an option for disabling them.

    The mechanic itself isn’t evil, it’s how it’s implemented.

    • jellydonut says:

      No, actually, the mechanic is horrible in every case.

    • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      OT from the main post, but my major gripe with QTEs is that to get past them, I have to stop paying attention to all other game elements, and instead watch solely for the button prompts. For example, yesterday I was playing Heavy Rain, and the character I was playing began fighting with another. I have no idea what moves either character was making, or even much sense of who was winning the fight, because I had to pay close attention to which button it wanted me to press next.

      It’s the opposite of having consistent controls. When controls are consistent, they are reliable and predictable to the point where after a little practice using them becomes unconscious; and you can then think about other things while using them.

      • Persus-9 says:

        If they’re done right the buttons will tie into the action in such a way that you can guess what it is going to prompt you to press by paying attention to the action. I found that I could do this some of the time in Fahrenheit/Indigo Prophesy, something would come flying towards me from the left so I could guess it would be pressing right to dodge next before the prompt came up and I found that a pretty decent experience.

        • Mr. Mister says:

          Yeah, same here. And I found that, while playing on the hardes difficulty, not grasping entirely what’s going on on the Kung-Fu sequence makes it even more over-the-top awesome.

      • makute says:

        See the final fight in Space Marine for another case of Horrendous QTE.

        • Jackablade says:

          The end of Bulletstorm likewise. You’re not even doing anything you couldn’t do with the standard controls in that one.

        • Smoky_the_Bear says:

          Yeah agreed, the final boss of Space Marine was atrocious.
          There have been some OK instances of QTE’s though, Shenmue springs to mind.

    • Dinger says:

      No, QTEs are evil, and the guidelines point at why: they take a fundamentally passive activity (watching a cutscene) and require the player to act. By “fundamentally passive” I mean, the player is not normally expected to act there, and the action asked by the QTE is very limited. Best case (Mass Effect), you only lose some bad-ass move. Worst case (too many examples to cite), you die. But cognitively, QTEs are so different from cutscenes that our hatred of them has a sound basis in psychology and, ultimately, game and narrative theory (ludonarrativistic theory, or something pompous like that).

      Someone should call John Walker out for his naming of the article: “Gaming for Everyone”. Right on. It goes without saying that no single game is for everyone. But gaming should be.

      Although if the next feature works up ten commandments of gaming, only to show how every single title ever published falls short of them, I might get suspicious.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I think the mechanic is fundamentally flawed because it removes so much control from the player, and the way it’s implemented make a flawed mechanic worse. The fail conditions usually result in being forced to repeat the same content at a slow, unnatural pace, or not being able to redo the content and being stuck with the result. But I think people’s opinions on qte’s largely depends on their tolerance for cinematic games.

    • JohnnyK says:

      I’ve got MS and QTEs are really problematic for me. Stuff like in the BF3 Coop is ok (single key presses), but I cannot play NFS: The Run without my wife doing the QTEs for me as I cannot do the rapid keypresses. If the silly game allowed simultaneous use of a controller and keyboard I could just macro the buttons, but that does not seem to work.

      So in a way, you are right – QTE implementation is often what is the issue. However, I also fail to see the appeal of them in general – as others have said, they actually kind of take you out of the cutscene instead of immersing you in it, and when I play a racing game I don’t play it for the buttonsmashing. If I wanted those kind of controls, I’d play Decathlon on a C64.

  4. VelvetFistIronGlove says:

    This is an Excellent Thing.

    • Dilapinated says:

      I agree, this is a sorely needed dialogue in the industry.

    • MasterDex says:

      Agreed. From a cold, business perspective, it means a bigger market but from a more human perspective, it means more people will get to enjoy gaming and all its wonders.

  5. reyke says:

    link to i dunno if anyone remembers chuck but this would help him ;) hes a nice guy let’s help him

  6. Rise / Run says:

    Funny thing that you note “This is basically a manifesto for all of us.” I’ve heard it commonly asserted in the assistive tech field that assistive tech, while helpful to those disabled, is often equally helpful to the general public, as well. In general, it’s just good design principle. Great physical example being sidewalk ramps (mandated for wheelchairs, but not surprisingly the preferred place to step on/off a sidewalk for those who are ambulatory, as well).

    • LionsPhil says:

      See also: big hotel bathroom grab handles.

      Especially if you’ve ever been horrendously oh-god-which-way-is-up drunk jetlagged.

      • Ajh says:

        Or you’re dizzy from the flu..I have them at home because my grandmother needed them to get in and out of the tub on her own and I moved in here after she died.

    • Faxmachinen says:

      This exactly. Also, I am pleased to see that they advocate providing more options rather than shoving the lowest common denominator down everyone’s throats.

    • InternetBatman says:

      Absolutely this. Some of the suggestions, like being able to change font size would make things so much for different monitors and resolutions. I think that could really see some traction if it was easily supported in the engine.

      Allowing all narratives and instructions to be replayed are similarly useful.

    • Ajh says:

      Indeed. My narcolepsy is definitely considered a disability, and things like saving whenever I need to just leave and move around or nap is a great convenience for me, but also for people who have children, or are taking care of loved ones, or have to go pick up something from the store, or need to go walk the dog, or any number of completely normal reasons.

      I have a friend that’s legally blind that plays games. Sometimes increased text size in games helps me be able to read quicker. I’ve got 20/40 vision without my glasses so I’m not the target of the ability to change text size, but I’ve found it convenient.

      Almost any accessibility setting can be used by a non-disabled person.

  7. Batolemaeus says:

    Is it intentional that the gears can’t turn in that picture?

  8. Leonard H. Martin says:

    If 15% of adults have a reading age of under 11, surely that’s a problem that needs to be addressed rather than catered to?

    • fallingmagpie says:

      Are you suggesting game developers ignore improving accessibility in favour of improving literacy? Because I don’t think games are the best medium for teaching people how to read.

      • LionsPhil says:

        But what if the games in question are Sierra SCI-era adventures with narrated dialogue boxes full of wry witticism about how you just died, eh?

      • Leonard H. Martin says:

        Broadly, no. Accessibility is important across the spectrum of information technology, video games included. However that figure of 15% of adults having a reading age of under 11 is quite shocking.

        Video games probably aren’t the solution to this, and it would need a massive globalised effort to even make a dent in those numbers. But games are about challenge and could be used to challenge more than just the reflex reaction. For example, I attribute my A in ‘O’ Level French to a game called French on the Run on the Beeb. I can’t actually speak French anymore due to lack of practice, but I know damn well if I were a downed RAF Officer in Vichy France I could hook up with the resistance and make my escape to Blighty.

      • rb2610 says:

        Although some well written games could be seen as expanding vocabulary, which is always a good thing.

        The one thing on the list I disagree with is the suggestion of overly straightforward text and instructions, at least have it as an option only rather than simplifying the written language throughout a game for all players.
        Some games are already hand-holdy and almost condescending enough as it is…

        • JackShandy says:

          I think instructions really do need to be as clear and straightforward as possible. Instructions aren’t art: You want to pay as little attention to them as possible so you can get to the good stuff.

        • Ajh says:

          What about the optional tutorial mode type thing? Tomb raider games had the mansion with the gym where you could practice things. An optional tutorial mode would be fantastic for a great many games, as it shows you how to play, but isn’t required, nor is it necessarily text based.

    • Nate says:

      That’s actually an interesting controversy.

      On the one hand, developmentally disabled people play games too, and there’s no reason we should put things out of their reach. (And yeah, developmentally disabled is a small population, but that’s really because of arbitrary categorization– I’ve never understood why mocking people for IQs of 79 is taboo while mocking people for IQs of 81 is practically a requirement for participation on internet forums).

      Accessibility via reading level is also cultural accessibility. A lot of people who play games do not speak English as their first language, and a game without sufficient internationalization can easily exclude them via reading level.

      On the other hand, games are one of the ways that reading level is developed. I’m a relatively older nerd, and if I was to imagine the least accessible book possible, it might just be the AD&D dungeon master’s guide, but I owe some small part of my vocabulary and reading comprehension to precisely those kind of inaccessible books.

      • Leonard H. Martin says:

        I think I agree. There are things I’ve read due to gaming, whether that be on a computer/console or those Choose Your Own Adventure (and similar) books from the 80’s, that inspired and fed my love for reading.

        Language can be a barrier, though. There are many Japanese games that never saw English language releases that I would love to play but can’t because I’ve never learned to read, write or speak Japanese. Perhaps I should learn, but I doubt I ever will.

        That 15% figure remains scary, no matter what. If video games can in some small way reduce that percentage I think we’ll be better off as a species.

        • Ajh says:

          It doesn’t help that pixelized kanji can be difficult to understand. I think japanese games actually could benefit from the option to turn on furigana, (Some of them have it anyway) as many foreign students can read hiragana and katakana but some of the more obscure kanji used in games can be lost on them. However, this is why the comics they release for children, such as Naruto are so easy to read. They don’t expect children to know all the kanji just yet, so there’s furigana to help.

      • vagabond says:

        I remember when I was in grade 3 (about 8 years old I think) there was a list of words that was used to gauge our ability at spelling. I could spell the hardest word on the list, “miscellaneous”. Thank you miscellaneous magical items table…

        Ultimately, whilst games are probably one of the best means of improving reading level, balancing making the vocabulary required challenging enough that you’ll persevere and learn but not so challenging it’s incomprehensible is the hard part.

        Perhaps this group could work on creating some sort of freely available plug-in library that defines varying levels of reading comprehension, and allows for automatically constructing appropriate “instructional” text (narrative text should probably be left alone, even if it wasn’t way too hard an ask) for the various levels. Developers could then use it to set a menu option in game to make their game accessible for developmentally challenged people. Accessibility is improved and people who should be able to read at a higher level but can’t for whatever reason could set the menu option at one step higher than where they currently are. It could have mouse over/tool tip dictionary definitions to help with words people didn’t recognise or something.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      Joke in poor taste:

      Those are console gamers

    • Aatch says:

      It’s not quite the way it seems.

      For a start, a literacy level of an 11-year old isn’t as bad as it sounds, remember that the scale only goes up to 16, after that it’s just “you can read”. This means that they can likely read children’s novels, but would falter on more complicated texts, think Harry Potter vs Lord of the Rings. Children stop sounding out words fairly early.

      Second, it is just reading age. This may mean that there are many people with severe dyslexia, but are otherwise intelligent (my cousin for example, can’t see the difference between fnu and fun but just got accepted into university).

      15% of the population sounds bad, but it isn’t like there are 7 million Britons sounding out their words in day to day life. Most of them can read reasonably well. They could probably read this comment without much trouble. They may be able to read the article well enough. Show them something that is full of long, complicated words, complex structures and requires significant context to comprehend, then they will falter.

      • sinister agent says:

        Nonetheless, most people would be surprised at how many adults there are who can barely read and write. It takes a lot of courage to look for help for that as an adult, and there really aren’t enough resources provided for them.

    • jrodman says:

      In part, having the language be accessible in games will do something about it if they play them. Language skills strengthen with exercise, and reading at a level you can manage is how to do that.

      I know a lot of people who have improved their native language mastery or acquired improvements in foreign languages in games. For basic language skills, the environment can be ideal. There’s a *ton* of context available in a casual hidden-object type game, for example.

    • InternetBatman says:

      A lot of these run into issues of accessibility vs. designed gameplay, esp. for platformers, but I don’t think they’re wrong to raise these ideas.

  9. bigjig says:

    “Aim for as straightforward language as your copy style allows”

    The only point I really disagree with is this one. Surely the 15% of adults at a reading age of 11 are already catered for with Calla Doody, no? I’d hate to wake up to a gaming landscape without the witty repartee of say Morte from Planescape Torment.

    • AndrewC says:

      I don’t think you quite understood the statement. 1: is that it is referring to instructions and 2: it mentions copy style, which can cover the ideosyncracies of character just fine. Also 3: I never understand all those perks and miltary speaks in the Call Of Duty gmes.

      • Cooper says:

        “3: I never understand all those perks and miltary speaks in the Call Of Duty games.”

        Dear lord ye.

        At the end of finishing a PhD thesis, I’d like to think my literacy is not awful. But bugger me do some games steep themselves a little too much in their own gobledegook.

        Alongside the pseudo NATO-speak of some military shooters, I was totally turned off by TSW. All of the descriptions of the various skills are couched in (unexplained) acronyms and near-formulae.

        Plain English FTW.

    • jrodman says:

      The guideline here is not “don’t have clever erudite prose”, it’s more “don’t have clever erudite prose for *no reason*”. Taken in that light, it shouldn’t seem problematic to anyone, except maybe hack writers.

  10. noclip says:

    “Employ a simple, clear narrative structure”

    No more Thirty Flights of Loving? No more Braid? No, thank you.

    The rest is mostly fine, but almost everything there already falls under the category of things that should have been considered as part of good game design.

    • RobF says:

      “Complex twisting narratives can easily lose or confuse people. Unless that’s the point, keep it simple”

      No need to panic, Mr Mainwaring!

      • Stellar Duck says:

        Too complex, confusing narrative that is not intended is just bad writing. That’s to be avoided no matter what I’d argue, being the snob that I am.

  11. denizsi says:

    Wouldn’t that image work better this way?

    link to

  12. primmslimnv says:

    Just FYI, those gears wouldn’t turn if the were arranged like that.
    Am I the only one who played cogs?

  13. Jupiah says:

    Another important accessibility issue that I don’t think that guide mentions: If your game includes minigames or other gameplay mechanics that require the player to be able to differentiate colors to succeed, include options to change or customize those colors for people with different kinds of color blindness.

    • Aatch says:

      The rate of colour-blindness in males is 1-in-7, or ~14%, so just that statistic means that anybody (game dev or otherwise) is looking at probably 7% of their target market to be colour blind, and Red-Green colour-blindness is the most common. Given that many software shops use 5% as the metric for supporting some platforms (IE6 for [horrible] example), everybody should be supporting colour blind people to some extent.

      As an aside, the high rate of colour-blindness in males is due to a quirk of genetics. the gene is recessive, but resides on the XY/XX chromosome pairs. The Y chromosome is called as such because it is actually shorter than its X partner. The gene in males doesn’t have a counterpart on the other chromosome, and therefore is expressed regardless of the fact it is recessive. Basically, you just need one of your parents to have the gene to have a chance of being colour blind, compared to other recessive traits where both parents need the gene for the children to express the trait (red hair for example).

    • nemryn says:

      Or, if the mechanics allow, an option to replace or pair the colors with symbols.

      • jrodman says:

        In board games, I really like the pairing. Eg Yellow X and green O and red [] etc. It makes it clearer for everyone.

      • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

        This is one area where the xbox 360 controller is much better than the PS3 controller: each of the four main buttons has a different colour associated with it: A is green, B is red, X is blue, Y is yellow. When you see a button prompt, both the colour and the symbol are useful. On the PS3 the different symbols don’t have such a strong colour association.

    • TheWhippetLord says:

      My ‘favourite’ colour-blindness unfriendly feature in games in mana bars. The industry default seems to be blue on a black background. This is one of my worst contrast combos and I can only spot the bar if I stare at it carefully for a bit. Hence, wizards etc are often harder for me to play for no real reason.

  14. aepervius says:

    For one they could start with what is not necessarly a disabilities but seems to hit a lot of gamer : in FPS allow for a GODDAMN FOV setting. If your game is locking at a low FOV, I am not buying it. (many of us seems to get sick at low FOV, I mean physically sick).

    • Kitsuninc says:

      Not just FPS, most any truly 3D game. There seems to be this thought that it only applies to FPS, just because the issue is most extreme with FPS. It’s just as much of an issue in, say, a third person game, Guild Wars 2’s largest failing, in my opinion, is it’s STUPIDLY low FoV. I don’t have any major issues like motion sickness from low FoVs, but GW2 makes my eyes start to have difficulty focusing if I play for very long at all. Not even to mention that it would look so many times prettier if I could only see more than the pathetic portion of my surroundings a ~65°~ FoV allows me.

    • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      Did you look at the guidelines? Field of view is discussed under “Visual”. The basic recommendation is that it should be set according to the expected average view distance, and the intermediate recommendation is that it should be adjustable.

  15. Gabe McGrath says:

    People need to learn how to make accessable games by…
    (can you guess?)
    ….making accessable games!

    A few years ago, there was a Retro Remakes competiton (massive props to RobF and that…
    (a) Told you how to make accessable games
    (b) Ran a compo on it
    (c) Rewarded the most accessable titles.

    If more gaming comps did this, more people who know how to make games accessable
    AND have experience in doing so.

  16. Gromann says:

    I feel kindof dirty that you make a comment like this and don’t discuss a charity specifically meant for this topic. There’s a charity based in the UK called Special Effect whose sole purpose is to connect disabled individuals with videogames by whatever means possible.
    link to
    A video of what one of their programs involves; link to
    I know this comment will likely get buried but this is one of the charities I wholeheartedly endorse and have donated to.

  17. InternetBatman says:

    I have a weird collection of disabilities, but they mostly don’t affect my gaming (besides QTEs and music puzzles). I’ve found that many of the items on this list not only help me enjoy games more, I think they lead to better games.

    I’ve always found ATB games better than solely action games. This is especially true if you have a lot of companions and followers. It turns the combat into a more cerebral experience, and I think forces designers to try more interesting things.

    I like subtitles for everything, and normally I prefer the subtitles to just VO, since you can really judge the writing when it’s displayed on your screen.

    I like frequent saving, it encourages you to experiment more than checkpoint games.

  18. Drake Sigar says:

    20% of gamers may be disabled in some way, but the majority don’t have a physical disability that will impede using a keyboard or controller. The Kinect on the other hand, is a much bigger problem. Requiring players to use their entire body as a controller means most of those disabilities come in to play, so they’ve almost eliminated the entirety of that audience.

    Of course, some of the examples refer to mental disabilities, and there’s certinally some things PC developers could improve upon there.

    • applecup says:

      Yes, this. My particular disabilities can impede KB+M on a bad day, but things like Kinect, Move, and the Wii controller are out of the question even on the best of days. If the industry continues moving in that direction, I and people like me simply aren’t going to be buying their products any more.

      Hell, even things like Guitar Hero are unplayable to people like me simply because of the manner of the controllers – not that it’s something that appealed to me personally to begin with, but it’s something that gamers, developers and reviewers just don’t think about when congratulating ‘innovations’ such as these.

  19. Jams O'Donnell says:

    Psst, don’t forget about Able Gamers, another project focusing on disability issues in gaming. I particularly like the reviews section of their website, which scores games on how accessible they are (Dredmor: 10/10, Skyrim: 4.3/10).

    • Stellar Duck says:

      Thank you. That’s a very interesting site and as a non disabled person it was highly enlightening to read and gain some perspective.

  20. hjd_uk says:

    For the [AVERAGE INTERNET USERS*] who are sayinh “duh, i dont want my game to get worse” : Optional, its optional. All this stuff goes in the options – making a game Colour-blindness accessible doesnt mean everyone plays it in B&W – you turn it on if you want it.
    That includes text options such as “Simplified Language”, “All Caps” , “Big Fonts” and “Text Colour”


    Frankly, even though i have no ‘vested interest’ i believe that all games should be accessible – computer code is infinitly changeable, you can literally make it do anything, adding accessibility to your game is just a matter of choice.

    *Self censored profanity filter.

    • Pindie says:

      Not to mention complete color blindness is rare.
      Most people are like me and can tell colors just fine on non-processed image.
      The colorblind option would just mean use of primary colors in GUI/HUD and maybe turning off color correction.

      Also, if menu colors have different brightness (make red darker than green!) the menu is already colorblind-friendly. It’s when you go for neon red and green those 10% will start to confuse them so you really have to try hard to be un-friendly but somehow game designers menage.

  21. Ardyvee says:

    A good example of a good implemenation of Quick Time Events would be: Assassin’s Creed combat system (if you happen to want to counter their attacks and kill them). Same with Dark Soul’s parry.
    But, of course, those are during gameplay so I suppose it doesn’t count as one.

    All in all, games should comply with that UNLESS it harms the game. In which case, I suppose they can get away with the limited playerbase anyway.

    And, since we are talking about this: How could you make DayZ more accessible without taking away from the soul of the game? (Ignore the UI for the sake of debate) And without taking away part of the experience from others?

  22. Contrafibularity says:

    It’s high-time this happened. I’ve thought about this several times in the past few years (also as someone learning game development). I hope devs take this up.

  23. Pindie says:

    Everybody was using colorblind mode in BFBC2. It was the worst case ever of desaturated HUD elements. The GUI/HUD should always use primary colors.

    It’s hard to tell friend from foe or in fact enjoy the game at all if everything is in shades of gray.

    Same goes for bloom.
    Bloom makes me blink because my brain thinks it’s something with my eyes.
    DoF effects?
    I am nearsighted and my brain causes my eyes to squint to compensate for lack of focus. Headaches guaranteed.

    Just have sharp, clear picture in games. What is wrong with actually being able to see things?

  24. essentialatom says:

    John Walker is so accomplished at taking things for granted that even his name describes him as the habitual and ungrateful performer of an action inaccessible to millions of disabled people. For shame, John Walker. For shame.