Definition: Defining the Meaning of Game Accessibility
Within the field of human-computer interaction, game accessibility refers to the accessibility of video games. Game accessibility is considered a subfield of computer accessibility, which studies how software and computers can be made accessible to users with various types of impairments. With an increasing number of people are interested in playing video games and with video games increasingly being used for other purposes than entertainment, such as education, rehabilitation or health, game accessibility has become an emerging field of research, especially as players with disabilities could benefit from the opportunities video games offer the most.
Game publishers and developers love to focus on features that will get their titles noticed by the mainstream gaming community, such as graphics and audio. But there is another audience, eager to take part in these games as well. These gamers come from the accessibility community - a community of people with disabilities, as well as those who care about their welfare.
Just because you may have a vision impairment, or may even be totally blind, does not mean that you cannot enjoy some fun playing games, stories, puzzles, and word challenge games both on and offline.
In this section on gaming we review a selection of computer games designed specifically for people who are blind or with vision impairment(s). Players who are blind or visually impaired now have an ever increasing number of games to play that use sound cues instead of images to guide the player(s).
Game accessibility deals with the accessibility of electronic games, online games, computer games, console games, etc. for disabled gamers. Many styles of online and downloadable games are audio versions only, most of these games are compatible with JAWS for Windows and Windows Eyes.
Over the past few years several initiatives were launched to improve the accessibility of games. Several academies and universities have shown their interest by using the subject of game accessibility in student projects.
Accessible gaming features generally tend to serve one of five types of disabilities:
- Hearing - Hard-of-hearing, deafness.
- Mobility - Wrist, arm, leg, and hand impairments.
- Speech - Speech impairments, language differences.
- Vision - Blindness, inability to distinguish colors, blurred Vision, etc.
- Cognitive - Learning impairments and reasoning challenges, including dyslexia.
Games that can be played by people with a physical disability can be categorized as;
- 1) games not specifically designed to be accessible (mainstream video games)
- 2) games specifically designed to be accessible (one switch games).
What is an Audio Game
An audio game is a game played on an electronic device such as, but not limited to, a personal computer. It is similar to a video game except that the only feedback device is audible rather than visual. Being text based games also means that they are equally accessible for users with and without a visual impairment. More and more people are showing interest in audio games, ranging from sound artists, game accessibility researchers, mobile game developers and mainstream video-gamers.
Some games do require adapted controllers, mouse emulators, or special input devices and a switch interface, while others need nothing more than a screenreader in order to play.
Quick Facts: Accessible Games
As games are increasingly used as education tools, there may be a legal obligation to make them accessible, as Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act mandates that schools and universities that rely on federal funding must make their electronic and information technologies accessible. As of 2015, the FCC requires in game communication between players on consoles to be accessible to players with sensory disabilities.
Statistics: Game Accessibility
A study ((Game Accessibility; A Survey". Springer. 2010-06-01. p. 6. Retrieved 2010-10-10)) estimates that 2% of the U.S. population is unable to play a game at all because of an impairment and 9% can play games but suffers from a reduced gaming experience. A study conducted by casual games studio PopCap games found that an estimated one in five casual video gamers have a physical, mental or developmental disability.