In an informative online discussion recently held by the charity Scope, Barrie Ellis, Director of OneSwitch.org.uk shared his expert advice and opened up the world of accessible gaming to an even wider audience. The Q&A session which took place in the Scope online community forum gave Barrie a chance to share his fantastic industry knowledge and show just how accessible and adaptable gaming has become.
Getting Started with Accessible Gaming
Many people living with disabilities want, like anyone else, to enjoy video games and even online gaming but it may seem inaccessible. There is no reason anyone can’t enjoy video games with the right adaptations, games and support. Barrie’s top tips for anyone who wants to play video games but feels unable to include:
- Don’t give up
- Research before you buy
- Ask for better access if you can’t find the right solution
Google searches and asking the community can make all the difference when getting involved in accessible gaming. Barrie specialises in adapting game controllers and one-switch accessible games for example, making it possible for even more people to enjoy a wide range of games. As the third point makes clear it is even worth contacting the creators of games and games consoles. Letting them know what barriers are in your way may be enough for them to make the right changes because, as Barrie says ‘Everyone has the right to play.’
Mainstream Games with Great Accessibility
Sometimes games designers get it right and there are some games out there which are more accessible including:
- Uncharted 4
- FIFA 16 (particularly in offline mode)
- Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture
- Access Darts (FREE)
- PGA Tiger Woods 16
- Tekken 6
This is just a small sample of the games which have been properly tested and trialled by experts in switch and accessible gaming and while they still have their faults, they are a good place to start. There are also many driving games which can be enjoyed through one-switch controllers and systems.
Accessible Gaming Hardware
There is no single answer to the needs of individual players looking for easy access to the world of video gaming and there is still a real need for Barrie’s work in creating new adaptable systems and switches for people with disabilities. However, hardware has and is developing in a way to make gaming more accessible to all. Barrie recommends:
- The Mayflash Arcade Fightstick F300 which works with many different consoles
- The Titan One adaptor which allows a range of controllers to be compatible with the newest consoles
The One Switch Accessible Gaming Shop offers a wide range of controller options which are suitable for different kinds of player and there are links out to other sources too.
The Future of Accessible Gaming
Accessible gaming has come a long way in a relatively short time. Charities including SpecialEffect (UK) and AbleGamers (USA) doing excellent work in pushing forward the causes of gamers with different abilities. Microsoft, Apple and EA have become more receptive to the needs of gamers with different needs and this is in addition to many indie developers already recognising the need for more accessible games. There is of course more to do and there are still barriers in the way. Barrie Ellis highlights some of the barriers to accessible gaming as follows:
Microsoft and Sony have also made moves to make their games and consoles more accessible. Improved remapping options in their consoles and in games could further this accessibility.
Nintendo consoles currently offer very limited accessibility options which is a huge shame because of the quality of their products and games.
By Maurizio Pesce from Milan, Italia (Razer OSVR Open-Source Virtual Reality for Gaming) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Demos and Games Access
Finding suitable accessible games is always a challenge. Barrie calls for a centralised database to make it easy to locate accessible games and remove this challenge. Equally games are not cheap so more demo versions and options to ‘try before you buy’ could ensure gamers are not purchasing game which are inaccessible to them.
VR is all about wearing specific headsets and mastering complex controls. However, simpler more accessible solutions could make it easier for all to enjoy this immersive new development in gaming.
Accessible Gaming Community
There is a growing community of those committed to accessible gaming. The community is committed to ensuring as many people as possible can enjoy video games. This Facebook group is particularly popular and is regularly updated with the newest games and upcoming releases (often by Barrie Ellis himself. SpecialEffect, the gamers’ charity, has organised several more Accessible Gaming Days which have been very popular in the past.
Your Trabasack can be a key accessory in enjoying your favourite accessible games. It is an ideal mount for single or multiple switches. It makes it easy to access wide range of games or you can mount a tablet or small handheld games console with ease. Our free guide to Using Switches and switch mounting is a great place to start if you’re considering switches and accessible gaming for the first time.