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Why you don't need to tear up your game to make it accessible

May 26, 2017 | By Chris Kerr

May 26, 2017 | By Chris Kerr
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More: Design, Video



Generally speaking, making your game more accessible isn't hard work. That was one of the key takeaways from our recent Twitch roundtable that saw a number of experts weigh in on the matter. 

In fact, it might be infinitely easier than you imagine, and the only reason you're probably struggling to answer to the accessibility question is because the solution is so damn obvious. 

For example, during our chat, AbleGamers COO Steven Spohn recalled how during a trip to Rock Band developer Harmonix he asked why they'd made it so the game could only be played with a minimum of three buttons.

Their reasoning? They just figured nobody would want to play the game with less. It's an understandable -- if frustrating -- oversight, and one that ultimately made it hard to turn Rock Band into an experience that could be enjoyed by everyone. 

"It is not necessary to destroy a game, in order for people with disabilities to enjoy the game. I can probably best describe this with a short anecdote," explained Spohn.

"Years ago AbleGamers were invited to Harmonix's headquarters, and we had a meeting were we talked about how you needed to use a minimum of three buttons to play the game, and how it's exceedingly hard to turn it from a console game into an assisted technology game because the tech can't understand it.

"We asked him why did you limit the buttons at three. And he said 'well that was an arbitrary number. We just figured no one would want to play our game if someone could only push one button.' 

"I took a half a beat and looked at him in the face and said I would, because I'm quadriplegic. I would like to play Rock Band with one button and it would be fun for me to play Rock Band with only one input, and there are a lot of people out there in the same boat." 

To hear more from our panel, be sure to check out the full stream right here. After that, be sure to follow the Gamasutra Twitch channel for even more expert insights and gameplay commentary.



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