Steam update includes cognitive accessibility perks

Marijn / ActiveB1t4 minute read

The Steam client received a big update last week that may improve the cognitive accessibility for its users. According to the Steam news article on the update most changes aren’t visible. But there are a few that potentially have a significant accessibility impact. For example, Steam’s interface has seen some updates to its design that seem to make it a less cluttered experience.

Watch Steam Update: In-game overlay, notifications, and a fresh coat of paint on YouTube

Notifications new and old

Updates to Steam notifications aim to make these more useful. The notification button now only lights up green when there are new notifications. Similarly, the tray view that is shown after clicking that button is limited to new notifications. A “View all” button is available here, taking users to a page with a historical view that includes older notifications.

The notifications tray view under the notifications button, showing several notifications, and a view all button at the top.

New notification specific settings are available to give users more control. Users can determine what notifications they see, and when they will see them. These changes, along with the less cluttered interface, are helpful to avoid confusion or frustration from cognitive overload.

A more st(r)eamlined overlay

The Steam overlay which is available during gameplay has also seen improvements and allows for more customizability. A new toolbar gives easy access to friends chat, achievements, guides, discussions, a browser, and more. Some windows are visible by default, but players can change which windows they want to see, and where.

Keeping track with Notes

New to the overlay is the Notes feature. Players can take multiple notes per game, which sync across devices. Players can format text (think bold text etc.) and include images in their notes. Notes are also available outside of gameplay, on the game details page.

Hollow Knight is visisble in the background with the Notes window in front. One of 2 notes is selected and shows text and a screenshot in a text field with some formatting options.

The ability to take notes will be helpful for players who have trouble keeping track of their goals or objectives. This is a great fallback in case games fall short in guiding their players. Being able to include images is especially helpful for more visually oriented players. Despite it being a different implementation, it is reminiscent of the upcoming Eye of the Wanderer feature in Prince of Persia.

Pin to game

Adding to the functionality of notes is the Pin to game feature. Pin to game allows players to pin a window from the overlay to stay visible during gameplay. The opacity of the window is adjustable. The window is shown without a title bar and other UI elements, avoiding unnecessary visual clutter. Aside from the Notes, this feature is also available for Guides, Discussions, Achievements, and the browser.

Hollow Knight with a note pinned on the screen, showing white text on a dark background on the right of the screen.

Game overview

Lastly the overlay also includes a Game Overview panel. This panel shows achievements are in progress, which friends are playing the same game, guides, news, and more. This could help players jump back in the game with the information they need.

The complete patch notes for this update also include lots of fixes and small improvements, so it’s worth checking out. Even if players don’t use the new features, the improvements should improve the accessibility of their experience using Steam.

Enjoy our work? Please consider supporting us!

Donating through DAGERSystem / AbilityPoints with PayPal may be tax deductible

ActiveB1tWebsite operationsHe/They

CIPT's resident one-person IT crew responsible for the looks, functionality, and accessibility of the site. Inclusion and accessibility troublemaker and creator of the Alt Or Not browser plugin for Twitter. Child of the 80's without an intention of growing up.

See all articles by Marijn

Follow CIPT

Latest from CIPT

(Opens in new tab) starting with