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Mockup of Heavy Rain with Full Closed Captioning
by Reid Kimball on 06/21/10 06:00:00 am   Expert Blogs

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The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
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I recently found a video of Heavy Rain and downloaded it so I could edit it. I did a mockup of Heavy Rain with full closed captioning. My goal is to work with other game developers to help them implement full closed captioning that enhances the accessibility of their games to reach a broader audience, primarily deaf and hard of hearing players. Part of the problem is communicating to developers that closed captioning won't ruin the game in anyway and that it can be turned off. I think this video demonstrates how useful it can be for someone who can't hear all the atmospheric audio.

Please notice:

1. The text is larger, therefore easier to see. Many video games that have subtitles (dialog only, no sound effects) use very small text that is hard to read on SD TVs, which I have.

2. Text uses a bright color with a black outline. This ensures it is readable on many different backgrounds. Bright yellow is not a common color used the environment of video games, while bright white is more likely.

3. Limited stacking of multiple lines (2 max shown) leaves the rest of the screen uncluttered. Depending on the game, closed captioning can merely increase the awareness of game atmosphere for the hard of hearing and deaf or it can provide essential feedback they miss out that comes from the audio.

For example, in Doom 3[CC], closed captions help deaf players know enemies are approaching or attacking off screen when they can't be heard. In Heavy Rain, the player can walk up to an apartment door and hear a woman inside screaming as she is attacked. However, these screams are not captioned and hard of hearing or deaf players are likely to miss out on a key sequence of gameplay.

Let me know if you'd like to talk with me about figuring out closed captioning solutions for your game.

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