_What makes a Barrier in a Game?

_Or a better question: what makes a game? And what are the basic accessible options are the basic needs for a healthy game? The key difference between games and other entertainment is, that they are by definition – inaccessible; because they need a challenge to be recognized as a ‘game’, otherwise it just would be a toy or a narrative. This challenge could easily become a barrier.

_Every game has barriers which make them what they are, what makes them fun or – what doesn’t make it fun for some. Unlike in the Web content accessibility guidelines, it’s not a simple checkmark list, it’s more like an optimization process. How much can you strip away from the game, what is necessary to keep its core design? What’s unnecessary for the game and its possibility to be enjoyed?

_There are some key accessibility errors making huge impact in a games enjoyability which occur very often which could be avoided easily, like the text size, the use of colors, fixed controls, and the reliance on solely audio. The basic solutions for these problems would be, for example, a decent default text size which is still adjustable, other signifiers like visual or haptic cues instead of only sound, remappable controls and – believe it or not – implementation of basic subtitles. Its not depending on much research and development to implement such features – only thinking of them in the very early stages of development can solve a lot of troubles later.

_Game menus are widely known for their possible complexities. In this case, its about showing the right amount of complexity at the right time to the right people. Like bundling some options into a preset and present them at the start of the game and give the users to customize these even further; because some people like the ability to change many details and configurate, others don’t and want to just jump right in. Like in TLOU:PT2, when you boot up the game for the first time, you will get the option to choose between a few presets, which could help each with different impairments. But if you choose, you can go a level deeper and customize these presets completely to your needs.

_To sum up, defining early what’s necessary and what is optional really helps in designing with accessibility in mind, and create great games.

_Literature & Resources

  1. https://medium.com/potato/the-right-to-play-accessibility-in-gaming-a954b01023f
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