When we design games we often forget to include marginalized communities in our development process. This is unfortunately even more so with those who live with disabilities. We must always approach our projects with inclusivity in mind if we want the widest range of players to experience our games.
There are 4 categories of accessibility we must always consider:
- Visual: can range from no vision, low-vision, obstruction, color blindness, or even normal process of aging eye sight.
- Auditory: failing to provide alternatives like caption options for those with impaired hearing or conditions like APD.
- Motor: motor impairments that require the need for assisted technology such as special controls or keyboards
- Cognitive: improving ease of information processing for those with conditions such as Dyslexia, Autism, etc.
In this author’s opinion, the best way to approach accessibility needs is to actually include these groups in almost every step of your development from the very beginning, just as you would any other player in your demographic. Hiring, expert involvement, user testing, play testing,interviews or focus groups, etc, all help. However, there are some tried and true resources you can use to give yourself a “leg up” in the process.
While A11Y relates more to web design, its a great starting point to understand why accessibility is so important and provides patters that can span across multiple platforms (especially for UI). The site also provides a huge list of software resources to help test your designs.
This site is an additional resources for developers to actually contact and include players with disabilities in their development process. You can also become a Certified Accessible Player Experience Practitioner through course offerings.
GAG is a straight-forward, living document that covers different types of accessibility patterns in games. Definitely bookmark this one.
What game are doing it right? This site offers a compendium of examples from AAA to indie games around the world. It also provides a section specifically for devs to learn more about accessibility in games.
Want to test what you are seeing on screen as a whole? Color Oracle mimics some of the more common color blindness impairments.
Simply experiencing for yourself what a person’s day to day may look like can increase your empathy and help you design more inclusively. Sim Daltonism allows you to use your phone to view the world as someone with color blindness.
Funkify is a chrome extension that mimics different types of impairments on your browser. It ranges from color blindness, to motor impairments, to even those with ADD/ADHD.
Are you an artist working on the characters, UI, and general art for a game? Want to quickly test what the design and mockup looks like for someone that’s color blind?
In Photoshop go to View > Proof Setup then select one of the Color Blindness options. This will preview your art board as one of these options. Super useful on the fly.
Combine with Skala to get a preview on your phone.
If you’d like to add any additional resources to this list, please comment below!