The Besties: Accessible Gaming with Steven Spohn
December 21, 2021 2:11 AM - Subscribe

This week, we're joined by AbleGamers' chief development officer to talk about the complexity and importance of including accessibility features in games, and also, pizza. Really, lots and lots of pizza talk. We also discuss Far Cry 6 for a few minutes! Other games discussed: Metroid Dread, Final Fantasy 14, Fortnite, Apex Legends, Satisfactory, Inscryption
posted by lazaruslong (6 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This was a very good chat after uncharacteristically hugely botching the previous ep. I'm shocked they let it go out the door, and that it's still up.

The difficulty vs accessibility thing (i.e. that they're completely different things)... it's so bizarre to me that there's an argument at all. In the days of full playthroughs available to watch with a click, it seems so weird that developers would cross their arms and refuse to do anything that might make the game easier to get through for someone who might not *need* accommodation. (This seems to be the main sticking point, I think? that someone without disabilities could turn on accessibility features.)

When you can see every cutscene on YouTube, what's the point of gating them behind the exact same objective experience for everyone? Wouldn't being able to adjust it to get the same *subjective* experience be far more "artistically valid", or w/e excuses they use not to include these features?
posted by supercres at 9:01 AM on December 21, 2021 [2 favorites]

might make the game easier to get through for someone who might not *need* accommodation

That's one thing that Souls-type game people often trot out, the idea that the game is "supposed to be this hard" and that it's some kind of uncompromisable artistic accomplishment. Bollocks.

I've also heard the argument that if developer time (i.e., money) is spent on accessibility features, that will somehow rob the game of other things that the non-disabled gamers want, which is tantamount to arguing that non-disabled gamers are more important than disabled ones, which is pretty gross.

I didn't catch the previous episode, what about it was botched?
posted by axiom at 1:01 PM on December 21, 2021 [2 favorites]

Exactly the argument about accessibility-- it's why they (correctly) brought Spohn on, after they (Russ and Justin) put forward more bad strawman arguments against any sort of hard platform requirement or soft social mandate on accessibility, and (correctly) took a lot of heat for it on Twitter. Plante had the right of it (Griffin was out).
posted by supercres at 1:06 PM on December 21, 2021 [3 favorites]

I've also heard the argument that if developer time (i.e., money) is spent on accessibility features, that will somehow rob the game of other things...

This is pretty funny to me considering how many secret cheat codes from the days of yore came from developer tools baked in to help them play and test their own games. Accessibility helps developers too, not just disabled gamers.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 4:44 PM on December 21, 2021 [2 favorites]

Yeah, it was clear in the prior ep that they were exploring ideas in a space they hadn't really done the due diligence on. I think that's fair and fine -- I wasn't upset by their ignorance once I saw that they corrected for it by bringing on someone to educate them.

Beyond the drama aspect, I also just can't see any valid argument against regulating and requiring accessibility features. Disabled gamers (my ND and chronic pain qualify me, I think) are just as important as non-disabled gamers. I absolutely love them and wish every game had them.

I do wish we had two categories of these features -- accessibility features for disabled folks e.g. color blind correction, and "difficulty" features that are to make the game easier / adds explorer mode / etc. I don't know what the second bucket should be called.

I just think the two get conflated too often and the former is too important to be constantly muddied by the latter. Though to be clear, were it up to me, I'd require both to be present. Sometimes I just want to experience the game and don't have the spoons or stamina to wipe to trash mobs in the first level a dozen times (Unsighted, lol)
posted by lazaruslong at 11:10 PM on December 21, 2021 [2 favorites]

They didn't mention Metro Exodus? Damn, that's got one of the best hard of hearing features I've ever seen: text subtitles describing what enemy [HUMANIMAL], what noise [SEARCHING], which direction [12 OCLOCK]. Describing the noise type is important: some of them will call their buddies if they KNOW there's a tasty human in their space.
posted by kkar at 9:22 AM on December 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

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