Today is Global Accessibility Awareness day, or GAAD for short (what a wonderful acronym). It was set up 10 years ago to get people thinking about, and talking about, digital inclusion and accessibility, because there are more than one billion people living with disabilities and impairments, and, simply, we can support each other better.
It’s a day of learning more about the kinds of visual, hearing, motor and cognitive challenges people are living with, and using that knowledge to reappraise designs and systems we take for granted, and ask how they can be improved. There’s a great rundown of exactly this kind of thing on the GAAD website.
We’ve seen a tremendous improvement towards these ends in video games recently, particularly in the last year. Games like The Last of Us Part 2, which can be played without sight, serve as shining examples of what can be achieved with the proper investment and thought. It’s one of the reasons our writer Vivek Gohil declared 2020 “undoubtedly the greatest year for the gaming accessibility community since the release of the Xbox Adaptive Controller in 2018”. The indications real change is coming are definitely there.
So in celebration of GAAD, and in an effort to propel accessibility awareness wider, here are a collection of pieces we’ve published on Eurogamer about it. Have a lovely weekend. We know we can do more, and better, and we plan to.
Here is that article by Vivek Gohil, summarising why 2020 was such a groundbreaking year for accessibility in games.
I mentioned the Xbox Adaptive Controller above: you can’t talk about accessibility in games without including it. Here, Keith Stuart tells the story of how the Xbox Adaptive Controller came to be.
But it’s not all positivity regarding the new consoles and their new controllers, as Vivek Gohil, once more, explains.
Gohil is one of the champions of the accessibility in games movement, by the way, a community that gathers annually at the Games Accessibility Conference (GA Conf). This is a genuinely lovely conference that has directly inspired teams like Naughty Dog, when making The Last of Us Part 2. People from the community were hired to consult on it. Here, I take a look at this year’s GA Conf to see what I can learn about accessibility and inclusivity in games.
There’s a tendency, of course, to assume that a disability means you can’t compete at the highest levels of multiplayer gaming. It’s an assumption Randy Fitzgerald, better known as N0M4D, has been wrongfooting people with for years. Tristan Donovan tracks him down.
But fast-paced games aren’t the only ones that present issues. Writer Edward Hawkes highlights the challenges with Papers, Please, as he explains in an entertaining and insightful read on dyslexia.
It’s not just about accessibility, though, it’s also about representation, which in itself is another huge topic. But this piece about Geralt of Rivia as a disabled protagonist is a start.