Building a Foundation for Accessibility in our Games

More than ever, friendships and communities are formed online. Not seldom through the entertainment that we’re so passionate about – games.

For people with disabilities, who run a heightened risk of social isolation, this is especially valuable. This is why we’re happy to say that selected accessibility champions at Kinda Brave Publishing and our studios have become Certified APX (Accessible Player Experience) Practitioners through the AbleGamers Charity.

While the certificate is a great validation, it’s the gained knowledge we’re excited about! It will help us to create games that are as accessible as possible, to as many people as possible. Now, we’re aware that we can’t do everything all at once, so our commitment is for the long term. And the APX training is the foundation we will build upon.

The course is full of concrete applications and learnings, and we really recommend all game developers who have the chance to check it out. Here are our own four key takeaways after completing the course.

A key attached to a video game controller representing accessibility in games.

1. Accessibility is About Reducing Barriers

Accessible game design isn’t just about implementing certain features to check a few boxes. Rather, we must tackle it from the perspective of reducing barriers to the experiences we want our players to have. The less barriers, the more people who can experience what we create.

2. It's Also About All of Us

As the gaming community continues to grow and age, most of us will at some point benefit from the reduction of barriers stopping us from fully enjoying and experiencing video games. A common misconception is that accessible design is about helping small group of people, when it’s really about all of us. The curb cut effect is a relevant analogy to how accessible design benefits everyone, which we’ve written about before.

3. Adjustability > Tailor Made

You don’t necessarily have to adapt things with a specific audience or challenge in mind. Often, the key is to make it as adjustable as possible for the players themselves. Control mapping, text viewing, sound and subtitles are a few examples of such areas benefitting from adjustability.

4. It Contributes to a Purposeful Company Culture

As a result of the APX training, we’re already seeing our studios taking the initiative to run accessibility focused sprints and design in pre-production with an accessible experience in mind. We’re about to get our Quality Assurance team trained under APX as well, so they can highlight any potential barriers with design early on. And the more people we get involved and aligned across our publishing and studios, the more accessibility becomes part of our culture.

Ultimately, video games are a beautiful way to bring people together. They create moments and memories that we share and look back fondly on, friendships for life and communities. Everyone deserves that. And game publishers and developers are in the driver’s seat to make it possible.

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