Hey, game devs, put your accessibility options front and center like this
In among the shittier game industry trends hitting lately (pay2win, unfinished releases, etc.), here's at least ONE trend I think we can all get behind.
As much as I love games and gaming in general, big publishers often seem intent on sucking the life out of my favorite hobby with aggressive monetization, unreasonable deadlines leading to rushed releases, and well, Fortnite (I'm kidding ̶n̶o̶t̶ ̶r̶e̶a̶l̶l̶y̶). However, there is at least ONE positive trend hitting more and more games that I think literally all of us can get behind. And that is one of improved accessibility.
Put your options front and center, game devs
I noticed while reviewing Zombie Army 4 recently that Rebellion had handily placed its accessibility options front and center in the game's menu, accessible with an instant tap of the X button. Other games have started doing it too, such as Bleeding Edge, which is hitting its closed beta very soon.
It's a simple gesture, and even if the accessibility options afforded per title aren't as deep as they could be (or should be), if every developer started doing this as standard, simply having accessibility in mind at the outset from the main menu could lead to a wave of change that could benefit millions of gamers.
@BleedingEdgeNT and @Xbox showing Accessibility options front and center. It's a great thing that MS has continued to have a quality standard to accessibility in their games. Something that the rest of the industry need to mirror. Great for gamers. pic.twitter.com/xr1VlcJ5T1@BleedingEdgeNT and @Xbox showing Accessibility options front and center. It's a great thing that MS has continued to have a quality standard to accessibility in their games. Something that the rest of the industry need to mirror. Great for gamers. pic.twitter.com/xr1VlcJ5T1— chris woelfel (@woelfel) February 11, 2020February 11, 2020
I was lucky enough to work with a friend on the Xbox Adaptive Controller, and see for myself how a bit of investment from developers can lead to a huge boost in usability and comfort for those with disabilities and other ergonomic challenges. Even something as basic as being able to change the text size in games is something far too few games offer (cheers, Zombie Army 4!)
I appreciate that smaller developers might not have the resources or dev hours to invest in building an entire suite of accessibility features into their games. Thankfully, Microsoft offers a lot of tools for Xbox games at a system level for configuring accessibility features.
For bigger publishers, though, the excuses are running thin. Warcraft III: Reforged launched without something as basic as the ability to change keybindings, which is often needed for users who have bespoke peripherals and keyboard setups.
Windows thankfully has a lot of third-party options (and some first-party options) to circumvent these kinds of oversights. Still, console games don't have the same access to external software, so much of the heavy lifting has to come from developers.
A positive wave of change
Having accessibility options is one of the most positive waves of change hitting the industry. As more and more developers invest more heavily in these sorts of features, showcasing them front and center will only help to bring more attention to those with additional needs.
Microsoft's motto for Xbox in recent years has been, "When everybody plays, we all win," and nothing sums up the push for disability inclusion more succinctly. It's great to see more developers get with the program, even if there's still a lot more work to do.
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Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!