Video games open doors to a wide variety of enriching activities including enhancement of problem solving skills, hand-eye coordination, social networking, and maintaining overall mental and emotional health. For individuals with disabilities, gaming is all those things mentioned and so much more. It can be a vessel into a world where the playing field is leveled and they can do the things they couldn’t otherwise physically do in the real world.
Through this blog, I’d like to highlight the pros and discuss the improvements that can be made for accessible gaming in its current state.
1. Where there is a will, there is a way! Gaming with a disability seems only limited by imagination, ingenuity, and resources. I’ve seen individuals game with a vast variety of their body parts including their eyes, mouth, chin, cheek, toes, elbows — the list goes on and on! The point I’m trying hard to emphasize is gaming provides so many wonderful outlets and benefits for those who want to play, that the physical limitation can be a boundary, but is just a piece of the gaming puzzle. Once the access method is established – the REAL work begins!
2. It brings people together from all over the world! In today’s more popular games, individuals have the choice to connect and play with other gamers through the the internet. Gamers often use headsets with microphones to talk to and interact with the other individuals they are playing with. Most gamers create a username to identify themselves to other gamers. If you meet someone you really like to game with, you can find them using their username each time you play. Thus, friends are made and good clean fun is had! Going back to my original statement, the geographical location of your gaming friends is irrelevant because of your connection through the internet. The internet opens the door to creating a relationship with someone as close as next door, or someone on the other-side of the world! For individuals with disabilities, this is a great opportunity to make new friends or meet other gamers with disabilities. Through that connection, individuals with disabilities can share experiences, give advice, talk generally about whatever, and most importantly – build lasting and meaningful relationships.
3. Improves overall quality of life. I wanted to pull out Maslow’s Hierachy of Needs for this explanation, but then I stopped myself. Why go on some long-winded rant when I could give you this…
4. Lots of people with disabilities are doing it! Now I’m not saying gaming is for everyone, or if you have a disability you should be a gamer; I’m just saying there is a large enough community of individuals with disabilities who are gaming that is generating enough of a population that game developers and manufacturers should be aware and conscience of that FACT.
5. Resources to accomplish gaming goals are outstanding! There are so many amazing blogs, vlogs, communities, and organizations dedicated to gaming for individuals with disabilities. Now, I can’t name them all – but here are a few of my favorites so far.
- The AbleGamers Foundation: www.ablegamers.com
- Game Accessibility Guidelines: www.gameaccessibilityguidelines.com
- One Switch: www.oneswitch.org.uk
- The Comedy and Gaming of AskACapper: www.askacapper.com
- Game Accessibility: www.game-accessibility.com
- Acidmods: www.acidmods.com
This video from The AbleGamers Foundation sums it up nicely…
1. Access within the games and consoles. There are many ways games and gaming consoles can be improved (via accessibility features such as button remapping, captioning, speech imput, etc.) for individuals with a wide variety of disabilities. The Able Gamers Foundation created Includification to help game developers make their games accessible for everyone.
AbleGamers provides consultation for AAA and indie developers, free of charge, to assist in making each game as accessible as possible. We provide a free updated set of practical game accessibility guidelines called Includification, which is a 48 page fully-illustrated roadmap for developers to reach the highest level of accessibility possible for each game.
This documents provides suggestions for game developers to consider when making games accessible for individuals with hearing, vision, mobility, and cognitive disabilities. I highly recommend checking it out!
One Last Thing…