The accessibility of video games, everyone wins

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L&rsquo ;accessibility of video games, everyone wins

Joel and Ellie, main characters of The Last of Us, whose first opus was released in 2013.

“A well-designed video game is a game that is accessible,” said Laurence Kennedy, who heads the studio Shedbuilder Games, on Wednesday during a conference at the Montreal video game festival MEGAMIGS on the lessons of accessibility in the game. industry.

Integrating full-fledged accessibility features into games is not just a matter of sustainability, it also saves time and ;saving money for developers, insisted Laurence Kennedy, who worked on the video game, which is fully accessible to blind people.

Améliane F. Chiasson, head of video game accessibility for the Eidos Montreal studio, agrees: One of the biggest learnings I've had in the past two years working in this industry is that measures must be planned from the start of the game's design.

For her, the task becomes more complicated when you want to add accessibility functions to a title that has already been started, or even already published.

If you're hoping to find the feature that will fix all your accessibility problems, it's very difficult, points out Steve Saylor, instavideographer and blind gamer.

You have to involve a team that is dedicated to accessibility from the very beginning of a game's design, yes, but not just any old how. Améliane F. Chiasson hammered home during the conference the importance of consulting people with disabilities and testing certain features with the target audience.

< p>“It's unmissable. If we do not conduct tests, Internet users will laugh online at certain accessibility choices that have been made. ”

— Améliane F. Chiasson

Instavideo maker Steve Saylor has made it one of his hobbyhorses. During his broadcasts on the Twitch video streaming platform, he does not hesitate to criticize the games that do little in this regard.

In March 2021, I was playing Call of Duty, and I was really struggling. So I said, “Call of Duty is probably the least accessible game in the whole industry,” he says.

A person watching the broadcast l got in touch with the game's publisher, Activision-Blizzard. He then landed a consulting contract to improve the accessibility of the game.

“I have to use my online platform to speak out about these situations. The content I create can be used to change things. […] You never know who watches your videos.

— Steve Saylor

Accessibility features in video games aren't just for people with disabilities. For Steve Saylor, displaying dialogue on the screen helps him remember character names, which benefits everyone.

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The instavideographer, however, criticizes video game developers who choose fonts that are too small, a problem that no longer has a reason to exist in 2022, he pointed out, adding that the gaming community is filled with aging adults with poorer vision.

Take the test. If you position yourself a few meters from your television screen and you have trouble reading the text, imagine people with visual disabilities, he denounces.

“Our hearing is going to get worse, and so is our coordination. What we want is to be able to continue playing video games even as we get older.

—Steve Saylor

Steve Saylor also points out the positive effects of being able to play with a game's color contrasts, and not just for people who are color blind: I have relatives who are able-bodied who use contrast functions. It is a tool that helps to better see the objects with which we can interact in a game.

Laurence Kennedy emphasizes for her part that the simple possibility of changing the actions of each button on a gamepad does a lot for accessibility and can improve the comfort of anyone who plays video games.

The accessibility ambitions of a video game must still remain realistic, according to Améliane F. Chiasson.

“You have to keep in mind that we cannot make video games accessible to really all players.

— Améliane F. Chiasson

It's just not realistic. You have to prioritize, and it's part of the process to admit it, she says.

Among the recent successes of the video game industry, the panelists praise the The Last of Us series.

“I believe The Last of Us marks the end of the beginnings of accessibility in video games . »

— Améliane F. Chiasson

Now virtually all video game studios think about accessibility when creating a title, she adds .

Xbox was also praised for creating free accessibility guidelines on its site.

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