Being able to play a videogame — ie, simply physically being able to press all the buttons with two hands — is something most of us take for granted. But for people who suffer for physical disabilities, even something like using a controller is not possible, and therefore playing the latest games are off-limits to them.
That’s something developers Naughty Dog didn’t want to happen with Uncharted 4. Sony have released this video showing how they worked with disabled gamer Josh Straub to make the game accessible to as many people as possible. Straub is head of Disability for Gaming Entertainment Rating System (D.A.G.E.R.S.), a website that ranks how accessible a game is to those with different abilities, and he first explained to them that he wasn’t able to complete Uncharted 2 as there was a button-mashing bit towards the end that he physically wasn’t able to do. So for the new game they included new options geared to gamers suffering from issues like this, such as a mode where you only really have to use one of the control sticks (which presented its own challenges for developers, like making the camera move independently).
In the video, Josh Straub explains what a difference videogames have made to his life:
When I turn on a game like Uncharted, I’m not confined to a wheelchair. I’m a swashbuckler, there to treasure hunt like Nathan Drake. That brief period of escape is why accessibility is so crucial, because the more games that offer that, the more people with disabilities will be able to escape and have better lives.
Growing up, my options for entertainment were limited. What developers need to realise is that games do more than just entertain disabled people. First of all they provide an escape from the doldrums of being disabled. And second of all, they provide a social space where instead of being judged by physical appearance, we’re purely judged by the3 actions we do and the things we produce in the game.
It’s an interesting topic that you probably wouldn’t usually consider, and its great to see developers trying to help people with disabilities enjoy their games.