Accessibility guidelines help devs welcome gamers with disabilities

Accessibility guidelines help devs welcome gamers with disabilities
Will Freeman

By Will Freeman

September 4th 2012 at 3:50PM

New resource to open up developer's creations to huge new user-base

A new resource has today been made public which serves to aid developers in making their games accessible to customers with disabilities.

That audience, say the group behind the Game Accesibility Guidelines, represents some 20 per cent of video games users, making up a huge potential audience for developer's creations.

The group, led by accessibility and usability specialist and former games developer Ian Hamilton (pictured), has drafted a detailed report offering advice on accessibility and tips for those looking to welcome players with a range of visual, hearing, speech, learning and motor conditions. Those in the group behinde the guidelines include Blitz Games Studios, Headstrong Games, Aardman Digital, and Stockholm University.

“Studios and publishers often don't realise the huge number of gamers who struggle with existing games due to barriers which could be easily addressed as part of the development process," said Hamilton. "Recent research by PopCap showed that as many as 20 per cent of gamers are disabled.

"On top of that, 15 per cent of adults have a reading age of below 11 years old, almost 10 per cent of male gamers have some degree of red-green colour blindness, and many more have temporary impairments such as a broken arm, or situational such as playing in bright sunlight. Developers are usually very keen to work around these barriers, and are simple solutions too, such as combining colours with symbols, or allowing text to disappear on a button press rather than a timer. Often all they need to make their games more inclusive is just a bit of information to start from.”

Created over six months, the guidelines are available on a dedicated website, and have already served to help Polish studio Vivid Games in making its PC title Speedball 2: Evolution accessible to more players.

“Through the process we’ve spoken to developers around the world, from small indies to large triple-A studios, and the support has been fantastic," concluded Hamilton. There are already several games in development that are using the guidelines to deliver the best possible experience to as many people as possible.”