How Video Games Are Becoming More Accessible

Illustration of two people playing video games together, one is using an adaptive controller

If you’ve played a AAA video game recently, you might’ve noticed a new category within the pause menu: Accessibility. And the options featured in this Accessibility menu have been becoming a lot more robust. 

Color Contrast Settings

Realistic military shooters have been a highly saturated genre for many years.  Games like Call of Duty and Medal of Honor place players in realistic battlefields that demand fast reflexes and a discerning eye. Character models in these games are often very similar in color to the backgrounds that they occupy, making these games nearly unplayable for people with any kind of low vision. 

Many developers are now addressing this problem by giving players the option to increase the contrast between character models and the environment.  This way players with low vision can still test their reflexes—without testing their patience. The Last of Us Part 2 also provided a similar option to make searching for items easier.  

Improved Subtitles and Captioning

Subtitles aren’t a new feature for most video games. But developers have begun making improvements to the formula to make for a better experience for hard of hearing players—and for the many other players who utilize these features.  For example, game developers have been working to ensure better contrast and readability for their subtitles.  And most games coming out these days have subtitles enabled by default.  Some games even let players customize what audible content is included in the subtitles.  

More Robust Control Options 

Many developers are now including alternate control schemes or input options. These options make games accessible to players with limited fine motor control or other physical disabilities.  Such options include things like one handed aiming, eliminating button mashing sequences, or snap turning.  Microsoft also recently released their Adaptive Xbox controller. This controller has large, easy to use buttons and allows users to customize their gaming experience. 

Game developers are often working on tight deadlines and these accessibility options aren’t always easy or quick to implement. So it is encouraging to see that so many large studios are taking the time to implement these features.  As the video games industry continues to grow, it will be exciting to see how these options improve

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