Monday, January 17th, 2022

How Xbox is advancing game accessibility on the platform, and hopefully across the industry

October marks the first anniversary of the release of the current generation of consoles by Microsoft and Sony. The Xbox Series X / S and PS5 come with powerful new hardware, as well as a library of titles that benefit from special features such as faster loading speeds, quick resumes, and DualSense tactile sensations. The new system opens up the possibility of innovating not only by making games faster and more tactile, but equally importantly, by making them more accessible.

Even before the launch of the Xbox Series X and S, Xbox has made a special effort to make accessibility advances part of its mission. From the launch of the Xbox Adaptive Controller to some new accessibility updates and features on the system Recently announced During October’s Disability Awareness Month, Xbox is building an accessible game package that will attract many disabled players. Xbox accessibility leaders talk to IGN to achieve the company’s journey to build a more accessible platform, the work to be done to make all games more accessible, and its future. He talked about his expectations for better cooperation across the industry.

Xbox accessibility evolution

Accessibility in first-party studios isn’t new, as the system includes console-wide accessibility as early as 2015. Still, with the exception of the latest Xbox updates and announcements, progress is relatively advanced. Both PlayStation and Xbox allow players to fully customize their controls regardless of the input of a particular game. However, these customization options existed in previous generations and have changed little since the first release. Nintendo Switch takes this feature one step further with five custom controller profiles for each official Nintendo controller. Other notable accessibility options included at the hardware level, or present in most games, are zooming, text-to-speech, and the ability to reduce screen movement and movement. However, Xbox is creating new features that help distinguish accessibility from its competitors, and hopefully encourages the industry as a whole to find new ways to innovate.

Xbox Anita Mortaloni, Director of Accessibility, talks to IGN, focusing on the progressive evolution of accessibility, especially in the console.

Notable advances in accessibility in 2020

One way to mitigate these inconsistencies and provide more console open and accessible controller options is for companies to start collaborating and sharing their knowledge bases. This is not a direct comparison, but games published on Xbox such as Minecraft, Psychonauts 2 are available on other companies’ platforms, and the characters owned by Xbox have appeared in Super Smash Brothers Ultimate, and the company is very For PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo, we’re starting to shave the walls we usually think of.

“We want the gaming industry to form a partnership to enable accessible technology on more platforms while minimizing player effort,” Voelker said. “We want to create a world where gamers can choose the controller that suits them (Xbox Adaptive Controller, HORI Flex, or any other choice) and use it to play wherever they want. I want you to find ways to reduce the cost of assistive technologies so that more people can get the best gaming experience. “

Wanting an accessible partnership across multiple studios, Voelker highlights one of the ultimate barriers faced by people with disabilities when playing console games: monopoly. Accessible features can be universally incorporated into platforms such as subtitles, remapping controls, and color blindness filters, but the technology behind these features remains exclusive or on a particular platform. It is built in individually. Also, if you have only one controller accessible to the first party, you have only one option left for people with movement disorders.

“We want the gaming industry to form a partnership to enable accessible technology on more platforms while minimizing player effort.”


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“I don’t think we need competition to drive accessibility innovation,” said Anita Mortaloni. “Accessibility is one of those areas [where] 1 + 1 = 3. Yes, we can all do a lot of things completely individually, but when we get together, partner and share ideas, whether it’s between companies or with the community, we You can do more and make a big step forward in the industry. “

Innovation is commonplace in the gaming industry. As the studio continues to develop powerful new systems, the technology that complements the new game will surely continue. Still, there is still a lack of software and hardware specifically designed to assist people with disabilities in the face of unnecessary and unintended gameplay barriers. The gaming industry cannot be truly inclusive until more obstacles are represented by better console accessibility and some of the technologies. Xbox’s commitment to providing ongoing support to players with disabilities shows that the industry wants to change. Also, as Mortaloni points out, we need industry-wide collaboration for accessibility, and hopefully the Xbox focus can encourage others to follow in its footsteps.

“There is no benefit to keeping it alone. When more people know it, understand it, and include it, we all win …”

Grant Stoner is a freelance writer for IGN.You can find him twitter..