Accessing Potential Through Assistive Technology
Gifting Guide Day 23: Accessibility in Video Games

For many years the answer to accessibility in the video game world revolved around providing controller access for players with varying abilities. This often meant several days 3D printing, soldering, fiddling with interfaces, and general frustration. The industry turned upside down with Microsoft’s introduction of the Adaptive Controller. Gamers could finally interact with just about any game in a plug-and-play manner. If you had buttons and/or a joystick positioned in a comfortable position, the Adaptive controller could accept the input and allow you to be transported into the endless worlds of gaming…

…As long as you could actually play the game. While many individuals could now manipulate controls, game developers were still treating accessibility features on the software side as an afterthought. Hopefully gamers wouldn’t need subtitles in large, easy to read font to catch important lore information. In a similar vein, why would they need to adjust the UI settings? It’s not like you would ever be playing on something other than a large TV or monitor or at a distance farther than a few feet away. Gamers are also known for their love of mountain dew resulting in quick reaction times and the ability to play for hours at a time. No need for aim assist or reasonably spaced save points. Thankfully this mindset is quickly becoming a thing of the past.

In the past year alone, we have gotten games with the ability to not only have subtitles but fully customize their font, color, background opacity, and more. Similar features exist to customize menu buttons. Need help visualizing who the bad guys are? One developer introduced a filter that would highlight them with a high-contrast color of your choice, the same for the good guys and scenery. Remember when you had to choose between easy, normal, and hard? Some developers now let you customize specific elements down to how fast animations play, characters move, damage is dealt, and a variety of other options. Motion control required for solving puzzles or performing tricky actions? Many games now allow you to turn the feature off or make it button controlled. Speaking of which, custom button/keyboard mapping has entered a new galaxy. Gone are the days of having to twist your fingers or use your third hand to be able to pull off various moves. Want to have one input act as a sequence of presses, there’s a game that will allow it. Don’t want to fiddle between holding, tapping, and pressing a button which would result in different results, you can probably reconfigure it.

While not all games and developers can accommodate all the mentioned features, or the hundreds not covered in this post, it is quickly becoming the case where accessibility is the standard. Game designers are producing games built around accessibility features rather than tacking them on at the end. The video game world is embracing that gamers come in all forms and living up to Microsoft’s mantra, Gaming for Everyone. Post inspired by Game Maker’s Toolkit, please watch their video on the subject.

Find out more:

Gifting Guide Day 2: Adapted Games

Game Night for Everyone!

Game night isn’t inherently accessible to everyone….but it could be! With just a little extra consideration we could make game night more inclusive. Below are just a FEW examples of ways to improve accessibility.

What to look for:

  • Products that make it easier to manipulate game pieces.
  • Games with large print or digital platforms where print can be adjusted.
  • Games that don’t require a lot of manipulation of small pieces or have alternative input/targeting options.

Card Holders

  • For individuals with difficulty holding cards there are a variety of products on the market to assist. Just search for “card holder”.
  • Alternatively, search for a digital version of the card game!

Monopoly two ways…or more

  • You’ve seen the local town Monopoly game boards…did you know there were versions that could benefit people with certain limitations?
  • The Super Electronic Version of Monopoly eliminates the need to count and manipulate money. It’s simple to tap the credit card on the banking device and it tabulates everything for you.
  • The Braille/Low Vision version of Monopoly provides large text and braille cards as well as a tactile game board surface.

Alternative Dice Rolling

Digital Games for Groups

  • One of my most favorite games I’ve played recently is OutSmarted, a trivia game for groups. Though the game comes with a physical gameboard the game can be operated almost entirely from a smart device and mirrored on the TV for everyone to see. Having both of these options makes it easier for the player to roll the dice and read the trivia questions.
  • Another option would be to look for multi player games that can be played entirely on a digital device. An example would be Jackbox Games which can be played on multiple platforms and has a variety of game packages to suit your groups interests.

Do you have a favorite accessible game product that you’d like to share about? Comment below!

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This list is provided for informational purposes only as APTAT does not endorse specific products or brands. When purchasing be sure to thoroughly research the product features to ensure it will meet your individual needs.

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