Game Accessibility

FWD News: Console Games Show Interest in Accessibility

Hans Smith worked with Sony Entertainment of America to develop a one-botton mode in MLB: The Show.Out of a blossoming social conscience or perhaps as part of a market-growing strategy, an increasing number of console game developers are introducing accessibility features into their games, paying well-deserved attention to the needs of gamers of varying ability.

The latest example comes from Sony Computer Entertainment America. In a widely reported story, initially published in ESPN’s The Gamer blog, we have learned that the 2011 version of MLB: The Show on PlayStation 3 will feature an accessible one-button mode, thanks to the input of Hans Smith, a diehard baseball and St. Louis Cardinals fan living with cerebral palsy. Read More...

Entitled the “Association for Disabled Virtual Athletes,” the game mode is based on a new organizations created by Smith. In this mode, players will have the chance to play an entire season of The Show, by having the artificial intelligence perform the ball-playing actions of running, throwing and batting with users pressing a single button. MLB 11: The Show is set to hit the shelves in March 2011.

Another instance is highlighted by The AbleGamers Foundation, which recently announced its 2010 Accessible Mainstream Game of the Year Award. For the first time, the Foundation awarded the honour to a console game, Forza Motorsport 3 on Xbox 360. Developed by Microsoft and Turn 10, Forza 3 demonstrated excellence in accessibility by including options that allow gamers with a wide range of disabilities to fully enjoy the game.

With the racing game genre usually suffering from inaccessible controls, Forza 3 stepped it up by incorporating accessibility features such as auto braking and single-tap acceleration, making the entire game playable with only two buttons. In addition, a rewind function lets players redo parts of a race.

“Microsoft and Turn 10 really impressed us with the extreme flexibility and number of ways you can play Forza 3 thanks to the options included in the game,” said Mark Barlet, President of the AbleGamers Foundation. “Many of the gamers with disabilities in our community were unable to play racing games easily before this title.”
“We believe that making technology as accessible as possible will enable people throughout the world to realize their full potential, regardless of their abilities,” said Aaron Kornblum of Microsoft, who also acknowledged the honour on behalf of the company.