Accessibility guidelines for video game developers published online

4 Sep 2012

According to a 2008 survey by PopCap Games, 15 to 20pc of gamers are disabled. A new website aimed at developers provides guidelines on making video games more accessible to players with disabilities or other impairments that can be a barrier to enjoying video games.

The site intends to be a straightforward reference for inclusive game design and comes as a collaborative effort between a group of game studios, accessible technology specialists and academics.

As well as addressing disabilities that can be a barrier to access, the guidelines also account for other other conditions that can hamper game-play, such as illiteracy, colour vision deficiency or a temporary issue like a broken arm.

The guidelines are divided into three categories – basic, intermediate and advanced – based on the number of people that would benefit, the difference made to those people and the cost of implementation. For example, a basic change that could be implemented is allowing players to remap controls to suit them. This type of change would benefit users with a wide variety of impairments and would be simple enough for developers to introduce.

Sub-categories within the guidelines relate to types of skill or impairment, be they motor, cognitive, visual or speech, while also providing general suggestions, such as hiring people with accessibility problems to test games.

Following best practice guidelines such as these could help developers reach a wider audience with their games and prevent them from excluding players. The content of the site is presented as a living document and feedback, thoughts and questions are welcomed.

Video game controller image via Shutterstock

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.