- #017: The Geeky Gimp Riots, Video Game Accessibility

By | July 5, 2016 at 1:00 PM
Uncharted 4: A Thief's End. Photo credit: EGM

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. Photo credit: EGM

Remapping Shouldn’t [Just] Be Uncharted Territory

Remember way back when video game controllers were a simply joystick and you had to go to the arcade with a roll of quarters to use one? Yup, so do we (some of us saw it in movies or read it in books). But it’s time to wipe the fog of nostalgia off your glasses because we’ve come a long way since then, and these days, games are often hella complicated. And while advancements in the world of tech and gaming are generally awesome, and mean video game characters are no longer restricted to 8-bit, the added complexity in the controls themselves produces its own set of challenges. This very topic is what Geek Girl Riot’s Erin Hawley is discussing in her brand new segment, The Geeky Gimp Riots! Hit play to hear her talk about accessibility for video games, and how even the smallest adjustments to consoles can make a huge difference for disabled gamers.

Check out a video below by Naughty Dog game designers Emilia Schatz and Alex Neonakis talking about inclusion, innovation, and implementation of accessibility features in Uncharted 4. And you can also read the following transcript of Erin’s segment!

Hi, I’m Erin, and welcome to The Geeky Gimp Riots! Alright, let’s talk about video game accessibility. I grew up with all the consoles, Atari, Nintendo, Sega, Playstation—and I loved them. But the more my disability progressed, the harder it was for me to play them. Back in the day, controllers were just three buttons or less. In today’s gaming world, there are at least 13—there’s a direction pad, left joystick, right joystick, L1, L2, R1, R2, circle, square, triangle, X…you get the idea. Even someone with the slightest of motor disabilities is gonna have a hard time. Throw in the need to hold buttons at the same time to perform an action, and you have the perfect recipe for an accessibility nightmare. And don’t even get me started on button mashing, the nemesis of all geeky gimps. So what needs to be done? How can we make games more accessible? Let’s start with the easy first. Developers, make your keys remappable and allow users some alternatives like auto focus. In Uncharted 4, they added a bunch of accessibility features that made it so I could at least play through some of the game. Streamlining controls is a huge help, and not just for disabled gamers. Secondly, and probably most importantly, involve disabled people in your game or console design! See what we’re saying, and see how we can work together to achieve fun for all. Even small changes can make a world of difference. That’s all for now—until next time, keep rioting!