IGDA Game Accessibility Special Interest Group

Top 3 Accessibility Features for Driving Games



Top 3 Accessibility Features for Driving Games
For a lot of disabled gamers, many existing driving games are frustratingly difficult to play. However, a few adaptations can make all the difference for such people, between a game that is fun and one that is not played at all. Implementing these features won't remove all game barriers for all people, but it would be a fantastic start.


Driving Games Top 3 Accessibility Features List

1. Fully Re-definable Controls

The Problem: Many gamers struggle with preset controller layouts, as they just don't suit the way they play. Such people include gamers that might have the use of one hand only (e.g. people that have lost the use of a limb due to an injury or stroke). Other people just might not be able to reach all the buttons (e.g. people with hands that are too small to reach all the buttons comfortably such as young children). Gaming can be uncomfortable, painful and even impossible.

The Benefits: A much wider range of potential gamers will be able to play the game with this facility, using many different types of controllers. Greater comfort and playability for many.

Extra Suggestions: Offering a latching accelerator/gas button can help prevent cramps for many gamers. Enabling gamer control profiles to be auto-saved and loaded would add further convenience.


2. Compatibility with Alternative Controllers

The Problem:
Many games do not recognise the fact that people may prefer to use an alternative controller to a standard joypad. This can rule out the use of simpler controllers such as arcade sticks to specialised controllers such as QuadController (a controller that is completely controlled by the mouth and head turns). Adding re-definable controls will solve many of these issues, but without also taking into account that many people can't cope with tilt, 16 buttons and two analogue sticks, nor anything like it, a game will remain frustratingly inaccessible for them.

The Benefits: A much wider range of potential gamers will be able to play the game with this facility, using many different types of controllers (hmm... a pattern seems to be emerging!).

Extra Suggestions: Making a game playable with a digital arcade stick or a single Wii remote controller for the Wii, will open the game up massively to many. Take a look at EA's Madden Family Play and Advanced modes for one great example of how to crack this nut.


3. Easy Play Modes

The Problem: For the vast majority of people, if a game is too hard, then it is not going to be much fun to play. If a game is impossibly hard from the start, then this just seems like a slap in the face. What makes a driving game too hard? Well, this is a larger than a top 3 list, but some examples are: no quick way to start a game, tracks are too difficult, opponents are too fast and/or aggressive, time limits are too tight and no assist modes exist for the driver.

The Benefits: Are for all non-hardcore gamers (see above).

Extra Suggestions: Many race game address some of these issues but not all. If you can, take a look at the PSone game Destruction Derby (Reflections) and PS2 and Dreamcast game F355 Challenge (Sega). Both feature quick start options, practice modes and a choice of tracks including simple oval designs. Destruction Derby features a Novice mode where if you start facing the wrong way around the track, a steering assist mode kicks in to help you face the right way again. It also features barriers that can help guide you around the entire track without slowing you to a crawl, nor jamming you frustratingly into scenery. F355 features training aids such as fastest line and verbal and visual prompts as to approaching corners. It also features an Intelligent Braking System that will slow your car down automatically if approaching a bend to fast.


More Help? Try: Game Over, Barriers in Games, Help You Play and the GASIG.

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6 Responses to 'Top 3 Accessibility Features for Driving Games'

  1. # Blogger OneSwitch.org.uk

    Thanks to Reid Kimball for help with this list, and others for their previous thoughts. I wanted to paste some of Reid's great ideas here:

    "Assist Play Modes...Players that have access to Assist Play modes can play the game using simplified control schemes, focusing on the core game mechanics while the game uses AI and other techniques to automate the more mundane or expert skilled actions. Examples include AI controlled cars that purposely avoid crashing into the player, slow down AI cars when the player who is losing or give the players' car extra speed boosts. Other Assist Play modes could automatically control the speed of the car around the race track, leaving players the task of steering the car. This area of accessible design is much more creative and unexplored. Feel free to come up with your own solutions."  

  2. # Blogger eelke

    one example of interaction aids that i've found was pivot the car around a central shaft rather than a very realistic steering like it is done in collin mcrae
    http://www.helpyouplay.com/interaction_aids.html

    There are also a number of interface aids like showing the ideal line to follow in a curve that could help. Then again most of these mechanisms help all players.  

  3. # Blogger jbannick

    The Easy Button is an idea that works. We use it with our 7-128 Software games and it's gotten a very favorable response from gamers who are blind, visually impaired, motion impaired, and cognitively impaired.

    What we do is make the scoring such that one gamer can use the Easy button and compete with a gamer who doesn't use the Easy button. And having the Easy button be part of every game we ship makes gamers learn to expect it.

    John Bannick
    CTO
    7-128 Software  

  4. # Blogger OneSwitch.org.uk

    Interesting thoughts from both. The central pivot works brilliantly in Destruction Derby to aid easy of play.

    The "Easy Button" puts me a little in mind of the automatic "Catch Up" feature found in Namco's ancient Final Lap games, and quite a few newer games too. Basically - if you're behind - you get more speed to give you a better chance of catching your opponent.

    It's pretty boring watching your opponent vanish into the distance, never to see him/her again (e.g. the Schumacher years).  

  5. # Blogger Sandra Uhling

    For developer who are interested in an Audio Interface can look at some AudioGames.

    For example "Top Speed" or "Drive!". They do not have to rethink and redevelop it. It is possible to play already existing games, talk with the gamer and the developer.

    GUI + AUI = AGUI  

  6. # Blogger OneSwitch.org.uk

    Drivey.com shows a fantastic accessibility feature. Auto-steering and cruise-control. You can also control traffic flow and switch off colision detect. So much potential for a highly accessible game.  

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