Accessibility Options in Games

#1

I think this discussion was started because of an article somewhere saying Sekiro is too hard and needed an “easy mode” feature or something. I disagree, cuz when you buy a FROM Software game, you should know what you’re in for, lol. But it sparked a larger conversation on social media about accessibility options in games in general.

I have some thoughts on this. Accessibility in video games is something I never really thought about until I heard about AbleGamers. Since then, I’ve started to notice more when games have accessibility options and I appreciate it when I see them.

The best one that’s popped up recently is the option to remap the controls. This has been common in PC games since forever, but I’ve just started noticing games on the Switch allowing this, and it’s made things so much easier for me. I get to pick the controls that feel the most intuitive (namely, A is always jump and then I map whatever feels most comfortable from there). Like, I probably never would have gotten as far as I have in Hollow Knight without that option.

Another thing that I wish every game would do is the option to change both the X and the Y axis for camera and movement controls. Mato & I are complete opposites on this: he has to have normal controls while I always need to invert. The worst is a game that lets you invert only one, not both, leaving me feeling really dizzy. I love Red Dead Redemption 2, but I absolutely could not play it because of that problem. And the controls are just whack in general for that game. Being able to remap them would have been wonderful.

I’ve also been playing a lot of indie games on the Switch. A common problem I ran into is mystery or horror games with handwritten letters where the text is either too small, too “cursive” and stylized to be able to read easily, or both (I’m looking at you, Goetia). Whether I want to play on the TV or handheld mode in bed, I want to be able to easily read any text. I actually considered buying a magnifying glass to play Goetia, but I just stopped playing entirely. RRD2 excelled at this, since it also had very stylized handwriting and small text, but you were able to press a button to bring up an overlay with all the text written out in an easy-to-read font. Imagine if English wasn’t your first language and you were thrown into trying to read sloppy cursive handwriting from the 1800s!

What accessibility options do you wish more games had?

#2

Personally, I always look for subtitles to turn on. While I don’t have problems hearing, it’s nice to not have to worry about mishearing a word, or struggling to make out what people are saying if the characters talking are maybe a little bit away from you.

For anyone interested in accessibility in general, I recommend a few videos by a YouTube channel called Game Maker’s Toolkit. It’s honestly a pretty good gaming channel in general that discusses different game creation topics, but they recently had a series called ‘Designing for Disability’ where he went over various options and how games can do them well, not so well, and other considerations they can make. It was quite interesting.

#3

Remappable controls is an option I love seeing in games since sometimes a game’s default controls work against everything I’m used to doing on a controller. Another thing I’ve found that really helps me with game cats stuff is the option to make text that usually slowly crawls on screen instantly show up. That ends up making things much more smooth for me.

I also agree that not every game needs a built in easy mode. Especially ones like From Software games that are made to be difficult, but I am all for putting in more accessibility options into those games. I also feel that there is absolutely nothing wrong with watching a playthrough of a game like Sekiro if someone wants to experience the game, but isn’t a fan of how difficult the gameplay is. If it’s possible, I also don’t think there’s anything wrong with using cheats for a game you wanna play, but maybe don’t like the difficulty. I’ve personally done so with Castlevania 2, and Kid Icarus, and even learned a bit about NES hacking along the way.

My final take on difficulty and accessibility in games is that people like the “You didn’t just cheat the game, but yourself” guy need to chill the heck out. Some people are losing sight of the fact that video games are ultimately just games and they exist for fun.

#4

Here’s a good thread by HalfCoordinated, a speedrunner that plays one-handed due to hemiparesis: https://twitter.com/halfcoordinated/status/1115381917610803200

I forgot about the subtitles thing, since that’s also something I really need to have because it’s so easy to miss things in game dialogue. I wish more games would let me choose the size of those subtitles, though. If the text is too tiny, it’s as bad as not having subs at all, unfortunately. Early PS3 games were very bad at this.

#5

Switch’s 8.0 system update lets you turn on the ability to zoom in the screen now, which is great for people who have trouble reading small text. It’s very flexible and easy to use. It’s that kind of forward thinking that I really enjoy seeing, even when it’s a surprise.

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#6

Oh that’s great to hear!

#7

I’m 100% in agreement about reverse X/Y axis options. I find that games are quite literally unplayable if the camera works the wrong way, and it drives me up the wall when the developers don’t include a simple toggle to make it work for everybody.

Configurable controls are less an issue for me on consoles than they are on PC, where I’ve played far too many indie games that require me to use WASD controls, as though it’s not the least usable control scheme ever imagined. Still and all, I found that Breath of the Wild was nearly ruined by its inflexible control scheme; you have only two control options, and either way a running jump requires pressing B and X together, which is unlovely. Worse still, crouching was mapped to pressing in on the left stick, meaning lots of unintentional crouches in high-pressure moments. Sure would have been nice to be able to switch the run and crouch buttons!

#8

Another neat thing I noticed while fiddling around in the options is that the Switch lets you invert the colors, which is really cool looking!

#9

This is pretty amazing; I’ll have to try it. In the few games that have furigana in the Japanese text, it’s often pretty difficult to read at its normal size.