Game accessibility, planning for people with disabilities.
Many people love to play videogames, they are great, fun, interesting, intriguing, sometimes give us a good scare and like with books, shows or movies, there is something for everybody's taste; but, can everybody access the same games? I mean, can everybody play any game they wanted if they get it? No.
Many persons are disabled, and some of their disabilities can hinder the user experience from the game. The issue is that too few developers consider this when creating their games and it's understeandable, this topic is not what you would call highly known and what will be proposed takes a lot of extra work than your standar game development.
I remember I had never thought about this until a couple of years ago, about how I could easily segregate the user experience of my game due to my decisions, but also how there are fixes to stitch back all my player base.
The goal on this topic is to think on how can we make our games easier to access for all kinds of people, so let's start:
Well, color blindness is an improper term, we should call it color defficiency as generally it's not about percieving no color at all but rather being unable to discern between certain tonalities (this varies depending on the type of color blindness).
Many games utilize color as a very important factor, I mean it's something so basic in our life, but we can easily screw the experience for many people depending on our color pallete.
An example is how we commonly see red and blue as the colors of team based games, and it turns out this affects some of the common cases of color blindness, and this is a very easy problem to fall into, after all it's a convention to choose this colors.
But easily we can change that by choosing a different combination, one highly suggested is blue and orange.
To work towards making a better experience for this case we can either implement shaders/filters to change the colors of the screen so it avoids colors that could cause confusion.
An easier option is to (and is the purpouse of this topic) to plan ahead from the start and choose a pallete that won't create problems.
Creating a subtitles system is not something very complicated compared to the amount of access you will add to your game.
Minecraft now has subtitles, consider how hard it is to avoid creepers when your first cue that one is near is their hissing sound.
People could aid from the use of sound on your game if you work on adding surround sound to your game (which can easily be implemented with the Game Maker functions), and aside from that it overall makes a better experience for any user.
Controls over the flow of text boxes is always good for everybody, small childrens who are still learning to read for example, also if possible allow the user to choose which font to use, fonts have different readability levels.
Being able to change the keys of your game is always something good, but much better for gamers who are unable to use two hands to play.
It is often times a very good idea to works towards reducing the amount of text needed in your game to explain how to play and instead work it with images, icons or examples (show, don't tell!), but this can be beneficial not only for a better learning experience but also for barriers such as language and learning disabilities.
Regarding the last one, tutorials should always be accesible, and instructions is always a good design to bring them as intuitive as possible, however it's also recomended to allow the players to take the tutorials on the pacing they would like.
Here are some interesting links to keep reading:
If you'd like to simulate what your game looks like to different types of color blindness you can get these free shaders that will show you and that way stop potential problems:
What do you think ? I know this cannot be applied to every game, but it's always something good to keep in mind.