Game accessibility is as varied as the needs of players, and often requires highly personalized, individual solutions. With that said, here are some general tips for considering the needs of gamers with visual disabilities, auditory disabilities, motor disabilities and cognitive disabilities.
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GAME ACCESSIBILITY CHALLENGE
The Game Accessibility Challenge is a new competitive award category, created in partnership with award-winning games studio Numinous Games through their new project, the Playability Initiative and funded by Novartis Gene Therapies.
This special award category challenges students to create a game that includes accessible design and supports the gameplay experience for players with one or more different types of disabilities (including visual, auditory, motor and/or cognitive/learning). Students will be asked to provide a short summary (500 words or less) of the accessibility features included in their game and describe how their design supports players with specific needs and abilities.
To be eligible for the Game Accessibility Award, students must meet all participation requirements and must have entered their game into one of the theme award categories (for playable games); participation is optional.
How to Submit:
At the bottom of the submission form, locate the section titled ‘Game Accessibility Challenge’ and complete the following steps:
The winner(s) will receive an Xbox Adaptive Controller and Logitech Adaptive Gaming Kit for themselves and another set for their school to playtest future accessible designs. The winning student(s) will also have an opportunity to collaborate with Numinous Games on the design of Painted Waters. As a collaborator, they will receive a named associate designer credit in the game once it is released.
TIPS FOR CONSIDERING THE NEEDS OF DISABLED GAMERS IN YOUR DESIGN
Visual disabilities may include low vision, blindness, and visual sensitivity disorders (like epilepsy and motion sickness). Here are some design criteria you may want to consider for gamers with visual disabilities:
Could a player navigate the menu and start the game without looking at the screen?
Could a player successfully play the game without looking at the screen?
Are the colors of menus, and all gameplay elements color-blind friendly?
Are fonts and any other crucial visual elements large, high contrast, and easy-to-read?
Is voice-over offered for all crucial text/instruction, and/or is the game compatible with a screen reader?
Does the game avoid flashing lights?
Can screen shake and motion blurring be turned off?
Auditory disabilities may include impaired hearing, deafness, and auditory processing disorders. Here are some of the design criteria you may want to consider for gamers with auditory disabilities:
Can a player navigate the menu, start and play through the game without the sound on?
Does the gameplay offer subtitles?
Are subtitles easy to read against the background?
Are subtitles labeled so the player can tell who is speaking without the volume on?
Are there visual cues, or controller vibrations for sound effects, including proximity sound effects (like the footsteps of an approaching enemy)?
Can the player adjust the volume settings for for music, sound effects and voice?
Motor disabilities may include, paralysis, limited strength, limited muscle control, reduced mobility, reduced dexterity, limited range of motion, and limited reaction times. Here are some of the design criteria you may want to consider for gamers with motor disabilities:
Can the player controls be remapped?
Are there options to play with a single button or switch?
Does the game limit the number of buttons you need to press at the same time?
Does the game avoid instances where the player must press and hold a button?
Does the game avoid instances where the player must fast tap or double tap buttons?
Can the game use alternate input devices (like an adaptive controller)?
Can the game be played with a mouse only?
Can the game be played with a keyboard only?
Can the game be played with eye-tracking software?
Is there a setting that allows the player to remove all timers?
Can players adjust the control sensitivity settings?
Cognitive disabilities may include, learning disabilities, slower cognitive processing times, impaired memory, issues of overstimulation, and limited or impaired literacy. Here are some of the design criteria you may want to consider for gamers with cognitive disabilities:
Can the player adjust the difficulty level of gameplay?
Is there a setting that allows the player to remove timers?
Can the player choose to slow down gameplay?
Can tutorials be re-played throughout the gameplay experience?
Are navigational directions intuitive and simple to follow?
Can in-game objectives and instructions be re-read throughout gameplay?
Can players read all in-game text at their own pace (not auto-advancing)?
Explore in-depth resources and tools on the Game Accessibility Resources page, which feature a list of basic accessibility features, iintroductory videos and links to expert organizations leading the way in game accessibility.