PGC Digital: “Gamers with disabilities have extra challenges on top of what you | Pocket

“Gamers with disabilities have extra challenges on top of what you have already built,” said Microsoft game accessibility program manager Tara Voelker.

Speaking at PGC Digital #5 on ‘Creating Accessible Gameplay in PC/Console Games’, Voelker highlighted a number of the basic accessibility options that have started to become more common across the industry. These included control remapping, text size, colourblindness and subtitle presentation, however, urged viewers that more needs to be done.

To help address this issue Microsoft is set to re-launch its new Xbox Accessibility Guidelines (XAG) on February 16h, 2021. This is a set of best practices that have been developed in partnership with industry experts and members of the games and disability community.

On top of this, the console maker will launch its Accessibility Testing Service, which will provide studios with a report based on testing their games against Microsoft’s guidelines, conducted by a certified team of testers with specific accessibility training.

Game difficulty

Voelker later discussed the hot topic of game difficulty, citing accessibility guideline 108: “It’s important to recognise that different aspects of games provide different types of challenges and that gamers may want or need to configure these individually.”

“To that end, games should choose to have multiple difficulty settings when possible.”

A further recommendation that can do a lot for accessibility was allowing players to adjust multiple gameplay elements to achieve the level of challenge the developer intended alongside, ensuring players can adjust how they receive and process information before inputting their actions.

The Last Of Us Part II from Naughty Dog was heavily cited as a game that went above and beyond, featuring over 60 accessibility options.

A slide shared by Voelker on creating difficulty options.

More recently, Microsoft revealed that it is looking at more acquisition opportunities, following the purchase of ZeniMax Media.

PGC Digital #5 takes place from February 8th to February 12th. To keep up to date with all of our coverage, check out the roundups here. There’s still time to sign up – to find out more and book a ticket, head to the website.

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