Earlier today the first edition of the Access-Ability Summer Showcase premiered on YouTube and Twitch. Produced by Laura Kate Dale, the show highlighted accessibility in current and upcoming titles.
The impact of accessibility
Several disabled accessibility advocates and consultants were featured in the showcase. Radders, Arevya, Vivek Gohil, Stephen Spohn, and SightlessKombat all talked about what accessibility meant to them. By explaining which features help them play, they provided a tangible connection between the features and their impact.
Accessibility info old and new
Dotted throughout the showcase were several trailers from Whitethorn Games. Titles such as Mythwrecked, Princess Farmer, and Botany Manor which feature stress free play and one handed controls. We covered the accessibility of these games as part of the Winter Showcase from Whitethorn before.
Skye Tales by Puny Astronaut was recently released. The game’s features a relaxed gameplay and include audio options and color filters. These color filters allow players to customize the colors and contrast of different elements and the background. These features were previously detailed in a GAConf talk about Skye Tales‘ development.
Bossgame: the Final Boss is My Heart by Lily Valeen features fast rhythmic boss battles. To make these hectic battles accessible, there are options to change the speed, attack damage, and energy recovery. Automatic block and invincibility should further allow players to experience the full story of Bossgame.
Luis Alonso is a triple amputee working on SpaceBoat from Recombobulator Games. Using his own experience he made sure the game is playable with a controller, without the need for button combinations to progress. Subtitles are available where text would be missing, and the game avoids relying on color alone to accommodate colorblind players.
Not yet released games
Upheaval by Alex Leone is a text based turn based game with a relaxed mode to remove any time pressure. It can be controlled by just a keyboard, a mouse, or touch controls. A text only version has full screen reader support for blind players. The game can be played in a light or dark theme, and players can turn background graphics off. Interested players can download a free demo of Upheaval on Itch.io.
Himig from OnionBlaze features relaxing gameplay. It can be controlled with just a keyboard or controller, or through a point-and-click system using the mouse. The game features subtitles, audio descriptions and separate audio sliders. Speed and difficulty options are also present. Himig is still in development, planned features include text-to-speech, UI scaling, a map and ways to track events. OnionBlaze has more control options planned, such as remapping, and simplified controls schemes including a one-button mode.
Solace State by Vivid Foundry lets players toggle accessibility options at any time in the game. These include an alternate font, text speed, and character highlighting. A log of previously read text is available so players can read back if they missed something. The game has no time limits and features no flashing lights.
Settings and accessibility toolkit
Pine Hearts from Hyper Luminal Games features an onboarding sequence for new players. This guides them to set a few accessibility options before starting the game. An accessibility menu is present with several options. These include color blocking to make characters and items easier to see, and simplified controls. Planned options include a high contrast mode and highlighting of interactable objects. Font styles and sizes, UI scaling, subtitles, and remapping are planned as well.
Hyper Luminal Games also developed a settings and accessibility toolkit for the Unity engine. This to make it easier to carry accessibility features developed for Pine Hearts over to new titles. One of the features of this toolkit that was shown is the colorblind simulator, which may help developers spot potential contrast issues in the game.
Post release accessibility updates
Cari Watterton talked about the accessibility in Rebellion’s Sniper Elite 5. The game has seen several accessibility updates since its release, in part thanks to community feedback. For more information and ways to give feedback, players can go to Rebellion’s dedicated accessibility page.
Later on Fabrice Breton from COWCAT talked about the post launch updates for Brok the Investigator. With help from Lirin (Thomas Tworek), the new features such as audio descriptions have made it possible for blind players to play the game.
Accessible VR games
A knight in the Attic from Mighty Yell is a VR game which is suitable for short play sessions. It has features to make in-game text more readable by providing it in an easier to read font. Nothing is conveyed through color alone to help colorblind players. To make the VR experience accessible, it supports seated gameplay, keeps things within arms reach, and has different methods of control requiring limited movement.
Blinnk and the Vacuum of Space is a VR game by Changingday, developed with autistic players in mind. To keep the game from overwhelming players, it has no time limits or fail state. Players can skip tasks, allowing them to play at a comfortable pace. If the game does become overwhelming, a calming environment is available to unwind.
Ending with a release date reveal
To close out the show Soft Leaf Studios shared a new trailer for Stories of Blossom. The game features accessible design and options making the game playable for many players, including players without sight. A full rundown of these options is available on the accessibility page of Stories of Blossom. The game now also has a release date, which is later this year on August 16th.
Besides the video with captions, the showcase is available as an ASL interpreted video, BSL translated video, and a video with audio descriptions in English. All versions are available on the Access Ability website and this page also contains the trailers featured in the show.
This level of accommodation is not a small feat for a first edition, something we rarely see aside from Ubisoft’s and Xbox’s showcases. The show has potential to grow for next editions, while we continue to hope accessibility gets featured more often in the larger showcases throughout the year as well.