The AbleGamers Charity, an organization that helps gamers with disabilities, has introduced a list of features that would make video games more accessible in their award-winning Includification Guide. These features are separated into tiers, with the features that are easiest to implement at the lowest tiers. Many of these features can be presented as options, rather than being the default mode.

  • Tier 1 (Good): These are the bare-minimum features that a game should have to be more accessible. Many of the features in this tier are already common in video games.
  • Tier 2 (Better): These are easy-to-implement features that will enhance the experience for people with disabilities.
  • Tier 3 (Best): This is an ideal list of features for people with disabilities, without regard for the cost or time required to implement the features.

Video Game Accessibility: Tier 1 Solutions

Here are some simple Tier 1 solutions that will address video game accessibility and make your games more inclusive to people with disabilities.

  • Remappable keys — User with mobility impairments will benefit from the ability to reconfigure the buttons, keys, and controls to those of a gamer’s choice. For example, if a game uses a keyboard and the Enter key is used to fire a gun, with this feature, the firing key could be remapped to the space bar or any other key of the player’s choice.
  • Color-blind options — The most common kind of color blindness is red-green color blindness. For games where color communicates necessary gameplay elements, an additional symbol or indicator should be used (i.e., red as a flame symbol and yellow a star symbol). Poor color options can block pertinent information to gamers. Accommodating players with color blindness is essential as 8% of all men are color-blind.
  • Closed captioning — Closed captioning is commonly confused with subtitles. Subtitles only transcribe the speech of characters. Closed captioning, however, not only has on-screen text for speech, but for voice tone and other auditory cues. In some games, picking up on audio clues is an essential element of gameplay.
  • Tutorials — For many players, the best way to learn a game is by playing it. Tutorials allow players to learn the game without fear of failure or repercussions, and is essential for those with cognitive disabilities. In a tutorial, the game should prompt the player when they can do something and point out common interactions rather than letting the player discover things through trial and error. Also, for players who have trouble learning the game, it helps if the tutorial is repeatable, rather than the “one and done” method that some games employ.