On Legible Subtitles in Games

Coty Craven2 minute read

Over the weekend, I played a lot of Outriders. A LOT. I think it’s safe to say that Outriders is going to be among my GOTYs, despite not the best accessibility. There was one issue, though, that I kept running into over and over and over as I ran through Enoch—the tiny and far too long subtitles getting in the way of me actually playing the game.

There is so much to see and do and harvest throughout Outriders and equally as many people to talk to. Quite often, you’ll start a conversation with a NPC while standing near them and that conversation will transition to radio as you start your mission. This is a wonderful feature for character and world building, but the way People Can Fly chose to implement their subtitles made it more of an annoyance than anything for those of us who rely on subtitles and captions in games.

The problem?

Illustrating paragraph-length subtitles in Outriders.

It is maddening to try to run through the world, do what you’re supposed to be doing, and follow the dialogue. It is physically impossible to control your character through most of the winding, twisting, turning, obstructed levels of Outriders and read the subtitles. At best you just have to stand there doing nothing while you read the paragraph. At worst, you miss half of the dialogue because you’ve been attacked by enemies midway through reading and you need to turn your attention elsewhere to avoid dying.

This happened so frequently that I made a little one minute video about why games need to follow the subtitle and caption guidelines made for TV.

Watch Video Game Subtitle Guidelines on YouTube

I made one with audio description as well:

Watch Video Game Subtitle Guidelines (with audio description) on YouTube

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CravenFormer Director of Operations and Workshop FacilitatorThey/Them

Founder of CIPT and former Director of Operations and Business Development. He/They

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