Microsoft announced Xbox One and Windows 10 now provide transcription that converts in-game player speech and chat text to text that users can read on the screen. The feature is currently available to games that support it, Halo Wars 2 and Forza Motorsport 7, the company said.
Captions and transcripts are text options that transform audio and video elements into accessible media. They’re part of a growing trend in video game accessibility.
Disability and gamers by the numbers
The US Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 1 in 4 U.S. adults has a disability. And, the Electronic Entertainment Design and Research study discovered that 211 million Americans play video games. It’s no wonder that video game accessibility is trending.
Consultants and developers advocating for inclusive video games are jumping on the bandwagon by creating more customizable controls and the ability to enlarge subtitles, practices that are quickly becoming industry standard.
Big Players, Big Trends
Big players have taken a big interest in video game accessibility the last several years.
Naughty Dog’s Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End received attention in 2016 for its accessibility menu that allows players to hold down buttons instead of repeatedly pushing them. It also enables players to use camera assistance to point out enemies.
Microsoft unveiled an adaptive controller in 2018 and upped its game in 2019 with the release of four eye-controlled computer games compatible eye-tracking technology from Tobii. The games allow people with speech and mobility disabilities to play games with their eyes.
Logitech also contributed to the trend in 2019 with the introduction of the Adaptive Gaming Kit. It includes a configurable set of controls compatible with the Xbox Adaptive Controller and a variety of gaming-grade, durable “buttons and triggers.” EA Tiburon developed sound technology for EA Sports’ Madden NFL game so that blind users get a better understanding of what’s taking place in the game.
Multinational video game and digital entertainment company Sony Interactive Entertainment has included accessibility features in their PS4 system that allow users to zoom in, invert colors, change text size and width, and alter contrast ratio. Some regions and languages include features that read on-screen text aloud.
All this buzz has resulted in more conversations about inclusive design and even the development of the Gaming Accessibility Conference in 2017.
More and more gaming organizations are embracing accessibility by incorporating it at earlier stages of development. Much like Naughty Dog, British company Criterion Games developed sound technology for their Need For Speed game for EA Sports to assist blind players in understanding what they can’t see in the game.
More than a billion people around the world have a disability, so it’s no surprise that video game accessibility is trending. With companies like Microsoft, Logitech, Sony, and others getting in the accessible gaming game, the market for video games could expand exponentially.