Are Game Developers Making Their Games Accessible to Everyone?

Building accessibility into video games is a key issue for many game developers. A new study suggests the game industry is making progress when it comes to making the majority of games accessible to disabled persons.

According to the latest edition of GDC’s State of the Game Industry report, some 39 percent of game developers have implemented accessibility measures into their current game, compared to 36 percent of those who hadn’t, and 25 percent who didn’t know. That’s a notable improvement over 2020, when 48 percent of developers said they hadn’t implemented any accessibility features, and only 28 percent said they had.

If trends continue, a majority of developers may soon focus on integrating accessibility features into their next product. “When asked what game developers are doing to make their games more accessible, responses included: colorblind modes, re-bindable controls, closed captioning and descriptive text, dyslexia-friendly fonts, customizable difficulty options, motion sickness settings, and more,” the report added.

Some game studios have been extremely proactive about building accessibility into the development process. “We had employees get an accessibility certification, instilled [a] new process on design teams to include accessibility in design, appointed specific people on teams to lead those considerations and bring them up in meetings, and worked with our accessibility and disability ERG [employee resource group],” one anonymous developer told the survey-takers. 

But other studios haven’t fully embraced the need for more accessibility. “Unfortunately there is still a lot of pushback in implementing accessibility features,” another developer wrote, “but anytime the team wants to introduce a feature where the only difference is color I always remind them that we need a different way to communicate to players instead of just color (adding icons, changing shapes).” 

Overall, though, many game developers seem to have embraced an industrywide push toward more diversity and inclusion. According to the report, a majority of developers thought their studio’s attempts at diversity have proven successful:

Although the video-game industry has faced some controversy over discrimination in recent months (in December, for example, Riot Games announced it would pay $100 million to settle a gender-based discrimination class-action suit), it’s clear that many studios and developers are trying to make things more diverse, inclusive, and accessible. That’s a good thing for everyone.