Life is not like a RPG where you carefully build a character choosing each attribute, talent and skill, you never know when or how you are going to get a permanent disadvantage. The truth is that there are more than 280 million visually impaired humans living around the globe, and as any living being, they like to play.
Developing for this user base has always been a challenge, as the game designer Eitan Glinert states in his great article about the matter “Designing Games That Are Accessible To Everyone”
“ […] games for the blind shouldn’t mean games for only the blind.
Games for only the blind is a terrible model that most blind people themselves hate[…]”
Making a game exclusive for the these players is the absolute opposite of making accessible games. In Glinert’s philosophy, games should be make with accessibility in mind to get the best experience even for disabled users. Nevertheless there are always the stray sheep like the blind youtube user MegaTgarrett who got until the end of Zelda: Ocarina of Time only by using audio cues, patience and tons and tons of save states.
A blind man cleared water temple, what’s your excuse?
If you watched the video above you can see how the last part of the game was a chore to complete, but at the same time, the way the audio cues of Link’s steps and Zelda’s shouts make this section of Ocarina of Time possible to complete.
But what we are after in here aren’t games that these users have to struggle to complete, on the contrary, they must be fun and playable for all fans of videogames.Where are them? Do they exist?
Fear not! I’ve compiled a list of three games with excellent ratings, scroll down for the delicous loot!
A Blind Legend is an action/adventure game released in April of 2016 that relies only on audio inputs and awesome voice acting. The game costs only C$ 7,78 and his reviews are very good, it is worth checking out. The game is available for android, iOS and PCs.
Audiorun is an action game for iphones by game developer Alexander Shen, it uses heartbeats and crisp sound design to give the player the sensation of being jumping from rooftops and obstacles while the protagonist is running.
King of Dragon Pass was launched in July of 2015 and is fully accessible for visual impaired users at the same time it is beauty to behold. The art is amazing and the game is praised for its charming customizable narrative. The RPG/adventure game is available for iOS and Android devices, as well as on Steam and it is a must for all the fans of the genre no matter their status.
You can see(or listen) that these are just a glimpse of the huge existing market of games adapted to this public and they are still engaging and fun experiences that anyone can enjoy. There are many other games accessible at audiogames.net (with at least 500 on their archive at moment this post is being written).
This is the golden age for visual impaired gamers all over the world. As the videogame industry matures and development tools become more and more accessible (even for blind developers!) we will start to see more mods adapting gameplay for all kinds of gamers, just as it happened to Minecraft that turned a mod into an official version for the visually impaired. There will always be issues with making multiplayer versus games symmetrical for all users at the same time, but this is just a sidequest in the path of a, until now, very successful main quest.
Until the next quest, adventurers!