Game Accessibility Top Ten

As games and consoles evolve, so do the accessibility needs associated with gaming. With this in mind, the IGDA Game Accessibility SIG, working along with the UK based non-profit Special Effect, updated our top ten accessibility feature list. With our new list, we hope to better address the needs of gamers, while making the features clear to understand to developers.

Thanks, and here is the new list:

  1. Allow controller reconfiguration for improved comfort. Offer players freedom in repositioning controls (also known as remapping controls, or reconfiguring controls) to suit them and their possibly non-standard controller. Where relevant, allow adjustment of control sensitivity, y and x axis inversion and provide left-handed/south-paw modes. Ideally allow for a controller profile to be conveniently saved and accessed.
  2. Provide alternative controller support.  Do not limit the player to only using standard controllers or keyboards, or require a standard controller for use of your title. Seek to offer support for at least one alternative controller and/or simplified control scheme. Consider those unable to use traditional input methods such as joy-pads and microphones.
  3. Offer sound alternatives. Aim to convey the mood, meaning and information of your game’s sound for those unable to hear. Consider full subtitles/closed-captions and creative use of other feedback methods, such as visuals and vibration.
  4. Provide separate volume controls for music, sound effects and dialogue where applicable. Being able to tailor volume levels can aid comprehension and comfort levels.
  5. High visibility graphics. Avoid or offer alternatives to small and/or indistinct fonts. Consider having a  high-contrast color scheme or making it available as an option if not default. Highlight important items to aid comprehension.
  6. Color-blind friendly design. Understand that certain color combinations can prove impossible to distinguish for color-blind players. Seek to avoid these combinations (e.g. red on grey or green) and/or offer alternative ways to convey meaning than color alone. If unsure of your color selection, please reference a color chart that displays colors as a color blind person may see them.
  7. Provide broad difficulty level and/or speed adjustment where applicable. Realize that for some players there is no such thing as too easy. A very broad range of people can benefit from slower and easier versions of a game including sight-impaired players.
  8. Offer practice, training, free-roaming and/or tutorial modes if applicable. These can help with comprehension, controller adjustments, skill development, and also simply offer a fun way in for those struggling with the standard game.
  9. Make menus as accessible as you can. Consider quick start modes, the importance of digital-input navigation and text alternatives such as text-to-speech and symbols.
  10. List accessibility features and game requirements.  Make efforts to ensure that this information is free and easy to obtain and understand. This information may be posted on a studio’s website or game packaging. Consider submitting for review to Game Accessibility review sites [list will be provided at a later date]

A large part of this list was also inspired by Special Effect’s Game Accessibility Wish list, which can be viewed on their site via this link.

Once again, a very special thanks to Special Effect and their work as well. And for more information, be sure to check out their wish list for Accessible Game design.

Of course, this new top 10 list does not mean the items from the old top 10 list are no longer valid or unimportant. They still are, and we highly suggest that features from the original top ten list that did not make it into the updated list are also implemented whenever possible.

Please take the time to look over the old top ten list as well.

1.Allow all controls (mouse, keyboard, gamepad) to be remapped. 2.Add closed-captioning for all dialogue and important sound-effects. 3.Provide documentation in an accessible format (HTML or plain-text). 4.Provide assist modes (auto-targeting, training options, etc). 5.Provide a broad range of difficulty levels from incredibly simple to difficult. 6.Make interface fonts scalable. 7.Allow for high-contrast colour schemes. 8.Add audio tags to all significant elements (actors, doors, items, resulting actions, etc) in true spatial 3D. 9.Allow for a varied range of control over play-speed. 10.Announce accessibility features on packaging.

IGDA Top Ten List – Layout by Tim Chase