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by Brandon Kidwell on 08/06/14 01:29:00 am   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


Color Blindness In Games

Did you know that majority of games, especially competitive games do not support color blindness? Only recently have game developers begun to incorporate or update their colors in games to help those who are colorblind. I have a few friends that are colorblind so I was made aware of this several years ago. A lot of artists or basically those who choose the colors in the game will commonly go for Red & Green. Both are associated with good/bad, go/stop, etc. An artist is also not color blind, or at least very unlikely so what they see seems fine.

Now, this doesn’t mean your entire game needs to feature colorblindness modes. There are ways of making characters or items pop out without changing your colors. Colorblindness settings come into play when information is vital and the player needs to be able to quickly differentiate two colors. Games such as Call of Duty require quick understanding of player names, if a point in domination is yours or an enemies. In Left4Dead a player needs to see the outline glow of their teammate. Sometimes the enviroment mixes too much red and green making it difficult for someone with Dichromacy or Anomalous Trichromacy to see anything properly.

so, what is the fix for this? Well Yellow/Orange & Blue. My personal preference is Orange and Blue (artistically I like it more) but either works.

Note, I am not covering complete colorblindness because at that point values are the only way to tell the difference between what’s what. I’m only covering Dichromacy and not Anamalous Trichromacy because the earlier is the complete lack of, while the latter is not. If you choose colors based on Dichromacy the Anamalous Trichromacy should be able to see the colors without issue.

Below are the colors in order of the rainbow from left to right. Each example is positioned the same. For those of you that may be color blind and trying to see this The second and fifth circles are Orange and Blue respectively. The third is Yellow.


Dichromacy: Red-Green



Dichromacy: Blue-Yellow 


Here is a comparison of the second and fifth circle from each. Notice that the normal colors translate to different colors.



So remember! Color blind people play your games. About 10% of American males are color blind. A large % of males play games!

Edit: I recently played the Titanfall beta and Respawn chose Orange and Blue as their team colors! Awesome job guys!

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Javier Degirolmo
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"Note, I am not covering complete colorblindness because at that point values are the only way to tell the difference between what’s what."

Actually, they still can differentiate through brightness. Of course you still have to worry about colors blending with the background, so it may be trickier...

Lars Doucet
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In color theory, "value" is more or less a synonym for "brightness" (ie, dark vs. light)

There's also "lightness," but that uses a different color model [1]


Brandon Kidwell
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Lars is correct, Value is the scale of white and black that the person is seeing. Sorry if that was confusing!

James Coote
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Thanks for this! I'm planning on having a colour blind mode in my game, since it's all about matching colours. So at the very least, players need to be able to distinguish one colour from another.

Marvin Papin
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The main difference you notice in the article is about tritanopia and according to Wikipedia (with all the relativeness) : "Tritanopia is a very rare color vision disturbance in which there" it's the rarest.

Now, what is the biggest difference since the name at the top of the players in game are red and blue and this is the AFAIK only diegetic difference. And on the GUI, doesn't worth it to dig the difference worth the other titles ?

I cannot much realize that since I have a really good color perception execpt the blue which is just a bit lower accurate. but I wonder how it does really affect the experience in a game like this.

But, may I have your opinion about Halo 4 :


(video - highly compressed)

Personally, I don't like the contrast between orange and blue which I find to much contrasted colors (except a cool sunset but it's more ambiguous) and I an extreme case I see that :

But for people who suffer from a chromatic aberration problem, I hardly realize the way they see that but I think people from those games are experienced enough to check that.

Brandon Kidwell
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I don't necessarily believe that all games must follow colorblindness "codes" but I think the option should be there for competitive games, or games that require visual detail.

I see colors fine so I cannot provide real opinions on screens or videos I can only empathize that certain colors will stand out from each other. Orange is a special color because we use it in a lot of places to help make things stand out. Clay pigeons, hunting vests, caution tape, construction zones. Orange stands out really well against backgrounds of different color as well.

I agree that using the wrong hue or saturation of orange and blue can make them "ugly."

Take these examples of blue/orange use and how they are aesthetically pleasing to the eye"



Also, I recommend setting up a custom server on Chivalry: Medieval Warfare. They have options to enable colorblind modes that allow you to view the game as if you had that specific type of colorblindness. I cannot guarantee the accuracy BUT it is a lot closer to experiencing the actual colorblindness.

Steven Sadin
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We recently added a Color Blind mode to our color matching puzzle game TwoDots:

The solution that we landed on was to include a unique shape within each of the different colored dots - and to set all of our level backgrounds to white.

Before we set the level backgrounds to white, some of our playtesters were unable to see the board properly because some of the background colors would blend into the game board.

So far, players seem to be pretty happy with the solution. That said, if you have any feedback for how we can further improve our Color Blind mode, we'd love to hear it.

Brandon Kidwell
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I believe you have solved the issue for the players. Every game will handle color blindness differently because some games may only use certain colors. In your case I believe the shapes within and the white background make it contrasted and easy to distinguish.

Curtiss Murphy
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Thank you for writing this. +1

Ian Hamilton
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Tweaking colours only works when you have a very limited range of colours that you need to distinguish between. Larger ranges of colours are either impossible to get right by palette tweaking, or very difficult, depending on how many colours are involved.

With a couple of exceptions (e.g. FPS deathmatch, where you don't have time to recognise anything other than colour) the best approach is simply to avoid relying on colour alone, also using something like shape of symbol.

More info here:

Ian Hamilton
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Also two nice articles that went up about it recently, hopefully will have raised some awareness: