Let’s talk about accessibility in gaming. It’s not something most people want to talk about, not something that pops into people’s heads when you think about gaming but it is something that needs to be spoken about and people need to be made aware of. Gaming whilst you’re disabled isn’t all that much fun, especially if you have a disability that restricts what you can and can’t do. I used to talk to a guy that played games with one hand; he found a way to do this even though there were no adaptions for him to use a gaming controller. He used to tell me how uncomfortable it would get, but he loved gaming so he refused to let his disability hold him back. The thing that makes me most annoyed about disability and gaming is that disabled people aren’t a demographic; most games are specifically aimed at abled people so there are very few adaptions for disabilities.
There are a number of different companies/charities who are trying to cater for the disabled. One of these charities is called Special Effect who are based in the UK; they’re trying their best to help people who are limited and unable to play video games the same way abled people are. When you get in touch with them you’re able to either visit them in Oxfordshire to try out the equipment or you can have the option of them giving you a home visit where you’re able to try before you buy and see what you’re most comfortable with and what equipment best caters your needs which I think is fantastic. Unfortunately they’re not the ones who sell the equipment, there are other places you can buy from such as Remap, although they try their best to find equipment that will best work for you whether it’s for gaming or daily living. They also make a lot of equipment and fit it to help your needs.
As we know, not everyone’s needs are the same, even if two people have the same disability. Technology has come a long way and it’s changing and developing more and more every day. There are a number of different technologies and equipment that have been developed to help those with disabilities such as eye control systems where you’re able to control what you’re doing with your eyes. I still find it amazing that this kind of technology has been developed. Mainstream video games can be accessible for disabled gamers but a lot of them require disabled gamers to use hardware that is specially adapted for them such as an eye tracker (as I mentioned above) or a mouth controller but you can also use controllers that have been adapted to your needs depending on your disability.
One of the most accessible controllers would have to be the Wii controller, it doesn’t have too many buttons and not only that but people have found that there are a number of ways to adapt the controller for users who aren’t able to push the controller buttons with their fingers which make it all the more accessible. This isn’t the first time Nintendo have designed a controller that could be used by people who have disabilities; back in 1988 the NES controller was made adaptive by having a joystick that could be moved with your chin as well as a sip and puff setup where you could control the A and B buttons and the select and start buttons. On both PS4 and Xbox One settings you’re able to access a feature called accessibility. They both have varied options, one of them being able to personalise your controller to your needs. Not everyone uses a controller in the same way so being able to change what buttons can do can be a big help.
There is so much more that can and needs to be developed to allow more people the chance to play games. Why should abled people be the only ones who get to enjoy playing them comfortably and easily?