BBC Radio 4 – Game Accessibility – In Touch

Mortal Kombat - blurred up. Played as an Audio Game. Graham Race of MERU kindly pointed me in the direction of an interesting Radio 4 “In Touch” item on Accessible Gaming. It reflects the experiences of many blind and partially-sighted gamers. Seems Mortal Kombat can work out as a playable game for completely blind players due to the diverse use of sound. The item includes direct contact with Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft which was quite illuminating:


“I’m David Wilson at Sony. Whilst we have had experience of visually impaired gamers, to the best of my knowledge we have never had any approach from people who are fully blind. Because video gaming is such a visual art form we’re not sure how we could recreate the experience of non-linear interactive entertainment for a blind gamer. Of course we would never seek to exclude anyone from the joys of video game entertainment and we have worked with people with disabilities to enable them to participate. For example, redesigning a controller for a person with cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy. But unless any of your listeners have some valid suggestions we are currently not sure how to adapt such a visual interactive medium without fundamentally redesigning the whole game to the point where it ceases to be the same product or experience.”


“We are continually looking at ways we can bring our games to as broad and diverse range of people as possible. Creating video games that work effectively for blind or partially sighted customers is however a major challenge. While it is relatively simple to add a sound layer for DVD menus, for example adding audio assistance or tutorials, will not work with most existing games which depend on fast moving visuals, such as Mario Cart. Achieving a game such as this that works equally well for sighted and visually impaired users is unfortunately not practically possible. It is possible to create games based purely on sound and Nintendo published one such game in Japan for Game Boy Advance in 2007 called Sound Voyager which involved players using sounds from the left and right speakers to guide a target. These games are currently very rare but with the video game market and technologies evolving all the time this may change.”


“We’re still awaiting a reply from Microsoft.”

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