The game industry, developers, and publishers are beginning to see accessibility as an important element of their business and pastime, but there is still a long way to go. According to a survey on the needs and habits of handicapped gamers in the United Kingdom, millions of people throughout the world experience obstacles in how they play, buy, or otherwise enjoy games on a regular basis. A disability advocacy group put on the performance. The survey polled 1,326 people (812 disabled, 514 non-disabled) about the issues they experience in the gaming industry, and Eurogamer writer Vivek Gohil compellingly contextualized it.
Two-thirds of respondents indicated they experience challenges when it comes to gaming, the most prevalent of which being the availability or price of assistive devices. Many people claim they have avoided buying games because there are not enough accessibility choices, or that they have been unable to play (or return) titles that do not offer them.
Disabled gamers, on the other hand, are far more likely to buy in-game stuff, watch esports, and interact with multiple platforms. As Gohil points out, there are 14 million handicapped individuals in the United Kingdom with billions of pounds in disposable cash, many of whom are active gamers, and valued ones at that, yet they are rarely considered a population worth advertising to or integrating in-game.
That appears to be changing as more large developers recognize that include accessibility features in their games improves the overall experience for everyone. Major titles such as the new Ratchet & Clank, The Last of Us: Part II and Forza Horizon 5 provide a wide range of features to accommodate everything from colorblindness to gameplay slowing and granular difficulty choices.
Better technology is also on the way, as small businesses create assistive gadgets for a variety of uses. Microsoft’s Xbox Adaptive Controller, for example, has been a major hit with those who are unable to use regular controllers. In conjunction with the Special Olympics, the firm recently sponsored an inclusion-focused esports event.
However, they will be the first to confess that there is more work to done, and it is not just about engineering and development. The Scope study discovered that in-game discussion, which is famously caustic at the best of times, becomes truly horrible when individuals with impairments join in.
In fact, the respondents’ top priority was “doing more to combat negative views regarding disability online.” More and better portrayals of disabled persons in games, as well as more cheap assistive technology, also deemed crucial. The need for improved accessibility in the gaming world is obvious but impossible to measure, which is why studies like this one are so important. The whole report may see here.