Representation Matters: The Blind and Visually Impaired
By Charlotte “Charlie” Humphries
The world of video game development is a tricky place, even when a studio has millions – if not billions – of dollars to work with. So it really isn’t surprising that there is still a belief in some circles that it must use the most advanced graphic available and have some sort of fancy mechanic that will make it stand out on the shelf.
But what if you’re blind or visually impaired?
This is where games like Grail to the Thief need more of a fuss made about them because it is geared towards the blind and visually impaired first and foremost. Everything about this game was built from the ground up to be fully accessible by their target audience, graphics and mechanics be damned.
While the mechanics and execution of Grail to the Thief are simple in comparison to the likes of AAA titles, it means that the visually impaired finally have a game to sink hours into, and that is far more important than some fancy HUD.
Grail to the Thief harks back to the Choose Your Own Adventure books where you’re faced with a situation and number of possible solutions. Pick a solution and away you go, for better or for worse, for glory and riches or agonizing, humiliating death at the hands(?) of spiders.
This is where Grail to the Thief has excelled because all of the options available to the player are voiced by professional actors and the scenarios include top-notch sound effects for all your guard charming needs or – if that fails – your stabbing needs.
The sad reality is that the games that have been on the market for the blind and visually impaired are not great. The team behind Grail to the Thief conducted their own research into the market:
“We conducted interviews at Perkins School for the Blind and performed extensive research which led us to discover that few games are available to the blind and visually impaired, and many of the games that are available are severely dated, lack the quality and polish of games for the sighted, and rely on synthesized computer voices such as screen readers in order to play.”
So, I’m pleading: if you know of any games in development – or published! – that are geared towards the blind and visually impaired, get shouting about them. Stand upon the roof tops and scream until your lungs are bursting, but give these games the attention and support they deserve.
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[author image=”http://cliqist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/charlotte.jpg”] Some say that Charlotte can smell incorrect spelling from three miles away. It is actually four and a half, but let’s not split hairs. When she isn’t proof-reading or playing games, Charlotte spends her days at community events cosplaying as Deadpool, or cat herding. Her favourite video game character is Patricia Tannis. If you want to read more of her ramblings, head over to http://www.humphriesck.wordpress.com.[/author]