Now Imagine if you could no longer play your favourite games, imagine if something happened that took away your hand functionality or even your sight. Or even imagine if you were born unable to enjoy the games all your friends were enjoying.
Having personally suffered a major injury in recent years I can tell you how much gaming can help. I would have gone mad without my Xbox during the time I was pretty much housebound, as Xbox Live was pretty much my only social interaction for almost two years. I still navigate to my console when I’m having a bad day to whisk me away from it all.
Unnecessary barriers are anything that could exclude gamers from being able to enjoy any game they want. The smallest things could have a big impact, how many times have you stopped playing a game because it was too hard and it requires starting over to lower the difficulty, or got lost because the game didn’t have a map?
Well now http://www.gameaccessibilityguidelines.com has been set up as a collaboration between studios and industry specialists to provide a set of guidelines for developers to reference to avoid excluding players in the future. Covering a whole range of possible barriers from graphical tweaks to improve the visibility of text or even catering for colour blind gamers in online shooters, to considering the ability to let disabled gamers use assistive technology devices, like those provided by the amazing Special Effect.
With 15-20% of gamers being disabled (according to a PopCap survey), not counting other conditions not considered registered disabilities, these guidelines could really make a huge difference to a large amount of lives, should developers take them on board. The aim is twofold: by making, sometimes small, tweaks developers can open up their titles to whole new groups of players who previously would have been unable to enjoy their games fully, and also to open up play to smaller but hugely underserved groups of profoundly disabled gamers who’s lives can significantly benefit from the independence, social interaction, entertainment and therapy that gaming is uniquely able to provide.
You can view the guidelines in full Here