Accessibility is the idea of ensuring that people of all abilities, encompassing a range of disabilities, can play your game. In 2008 Popcap reported that up to 20% of casual gamers are disabled, and hence making your game playable to people of different abilities can have a huge effect on your player base. The last few weeks has seen the release of some initiatives to aid game developers in making games suitable for disabled gamers.
The first are the “game accessibility guidelines”. Created by a panel of game designers and academics, the guidelines are a ‘to-do’ list of features to ensure that your game is playable by disabled gamers. The website focuses on clearly defined, actionable recommendations to ensure that game developers can understand and implement them easily – for example “Provide an option to adjust contrast”.
Helpfully, the guidelines are arranged by both difficulty of implementation, from basic to advanced, and by impairment. They also includes a wide range of examples, to show best practise in popular games such as Skyrim or Angry Birds. For more information, see the game accessibility guidelines website.
The second accessibility related development this week is the release of AbleGamers Foundation’s “Includification” Guidelines. This short book collates best practises and guidelines for a range of disabilities in a short how-to guide (and forthcoming book). They have published the entire booklet on the includification website for free, and it is full of great examples from modern games such as LA Noire and Deus Ex, as well as a set of developer exercises to encourage game developers to think about practical ways this can be implemented in their games.