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Older Gamers, More Accessible Game Features? 54

Posted by Zonk
from the can't-see-that-damn-pac-guy dept.
simoniker writes "Microsoft's Brannon Zahand has been addressing the key issues of accessibility, from all aspects of game development, noting: 'The demand for accessibility will continue to grow as the gaming population ages. As people grow older, mild impairments can become more severe. Also, people are likely to develop new difficulties and impairments as they age. Adding basic accessibility features to titles can help publishers and developers continue to draw revenue from these customers.' Will we have to change how games play as gamers get older?"
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Older Gamers, More Accessible Game Features?

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  • Not To Mention... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sottitron (923868) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @12:43PM (#16155047)
    Not to mention the ailments that gaming can produce... Oh yeah, I always take a 10-15 minute break every hour. Don't you?

    From the Gamecube manual:

    Playing video games can make your muscles, joints or skin hurt after a few hours. Follow these instructions to avoid problems such as Tendinitis, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or skin irritation:

            * Take a 10 to 15 minute break every hour, even if you don't think you need it.

            * If your hands, wrists or arms become tired or sore while playing, stop and rest them for several hours before playing again.

            * If you continue to have sore hands, wrists or arms during or after play, stop playing and see a doctor.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @12:48PM (#16155092)
    So you make some accessibility features for games. So, if your coordination ain't the best anymore, you'll get "compensation" from the game by having a mild to heavy auto-aim feature. Or if you can't see so well, you get the enemy highlighted in bright colors.

    Sounds familiar? Right. We call that "cheating" today.

    It's not that I want to look down on aging people. Hey, I'm myself starting to notice that I start to lose my edge. I can't compete with 16 year olds anymore, and I'm saddened by the prospect of not being able to even beat the next Burnout at all anymore. My reaction is getting slower, my eyes ain't what they used to be, but hey, that's ok. I get old, and I'll play what's there for me. No biggie. I'll be as good as I am.

    Toning down the game to make it "accessible" would feel like cheating to me. Multiplayer or not. In multi, it's even more blatant because, well, what would keep a non-disabled person from using those tools as well? In single, I'd feel like I cheat myself.
  • by Hahnsoo (976162) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @01:15PM (#16155375)
    Accessibility is an issue that affects millions of Americans (and worldwide) with disability, not just disability due to aging. While the implications of aging will affect a lot of contemporary games and the current "gamer" population, there are quite a few youngsters with disability who are disenfranchised from the enjoyment of video games due to access issues. I remember hearing an article on NPR about the blind being able to play text adventures through text-to-speech. While I doubt the feasibility of statements like "Blind people should be able to play XBox 360", I think that the gaming industry, especially consoles, has matured in sophistication enough to start adding accessibility features to their games. I can think of several off-the-shelf solutions for consoles right now (using one-handed controllers or a Dance Dance Revolution pad for playing RPGs or tactical strategy games, in folks with manual dexterity problems, alternate input devices for consoles, etc.), but it would be nice to see more effort on the software side. After all, gaming is a great hobby for those who may be wheelchair-bound or have to stay indoors for one reason or another.

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