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Game Accessibility

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I was reading a post online a few weeks ago when I came across a new guideline for Game Accessibility. The guide (found here) provides a framework for developers who are trying to make their games more accessible to gamers with some form of disability. Accessibility, order according to them, means “avoiding unnecessary barriers that prevent people with a range of impairments from accessing or enjoying your output”.

Accessibility is an issue Jintronix has been trying to tackle from day one, so I was really happy, both as a professional and a gamer, to see this guide come into existence. The way in which we originally meant to increase access was by providing stroke survivors with a means of accessing physical rehabilitation regardless of their location and proximity to a physical therapy center. As we began to develop our system however, the scope of that goal grew.

Stroke survivors may be impaired in any number of ways, both physically and/or cognitively. It is common to see victims with half of their body paralyzed, which severely impairs their mobility. Besides physical impairments, another common occurrence amongst stroke victims is Aphasia, which affects the brain, resulting in any number of communication disorders (I specifically state communication disorder because many people confuse people with Aphasia as having lost intelligence, which is not the case. It is simply the inability to properly communicate for any number of reasons), from loss of speech, inability to read or recognize words, to spatial neglect. All these make it difficult for someone to properly engage with a virtual environment, but it is possible to address some of these issues. It may be as simple as limiting the amount of text on the screen at any given moment, or providing alternative control methods.

By leveraging technology and the versatility of software, it is possible to create games that may be accessed by a larger range of people. It is not feasible to target everyone however, even among those with Aphasia, but if you take the time to properly identify the largest pain points, and see what solutions are possible, you drastically increase the number of people who may enjoy your game, or in the case of Jintronix, their physical rehabilitation.

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