6 Comments Published by OneSwitch.org.uk on Sunday, December 2, 2007 at 12:31 AM.
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.