The Xbox Series X not only marks the latest Xbox console, it also signals how Microsoft is the industry leader when it comes to accessibility options for gamers.
Xbox has made tons of progress in improving accessibility in games, and it doesn’t get any better presented than with Xbox’s screenings on World Accessibility Awareness Day. Earlier this month, Microsoft hosted a live stream in which they described some new accessibility features coming to the Xbox. This continues the trend for Xbox and Microsoft to be an industry leader in gaming accessibility.
Xbox has made great strides in improving the issues that have made gaming difficult for some. There are some really good new initiatives that Xbox has put in place that a recent live feed and blog post helped describe. However, Microsoft’s attempts to boost accessibility in games go way beyond the Xbox system, providing tons of quality resources and tools for fans and developers alike.
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One of the most important new resources includes a guide for game developers on how to integrate accessibility features into their games. This will help developers recognize small changes and common issues that will help gamers enjoy their games regardless of their accessibility needs. These new guides are also helpful since Xbox has updated its accessibility guidelines in its games, including additional support when it comes to things like captions and screen storytelling.
There’s even a new way for people to provide feedback on these and other new accessibility features through the Xbox Accessibility Insider League. Anyone with a disability can provide feedback directly to Xbox engineers and game developers. This creates a great way for the people behind the creation of many of these accessibility features to communicate directly with the players for whom they are designing these features.
Likewise, the Xbox customer support page has been reformatted to make the accessibility feedback form easier to find. In general, the focus has been on streamlining the way Xbox receives feedback on the types of accessibility features it needs to focus on. Xbox isn’t the only one in the gaming industry that has stepped up its efforts to reform the accessibility of their games and systems, ensuring that gaming continues to be for everyone.
While Microsoft has certainly been the industry leader when it comes to accessibility, it’s important to recognize that there are many publishers and developers making progress in this area. Of note are both Ubisoft and Sony, both of which have taken a renewed approach to the issue. The milestones of these two companies are important to highlight because they show how publishers and developers can approach accessibility.
Ubisoft deserves tons of credit for the way they approached accessibility. Two of their games, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Watch dogs: Legion, were nominated for the Innovations in Accessibility award at the 2020 Game Awards. Ubisoft has consistently provided a wide selection of accessibility features in its games while communicating its methods and challenges for continuing to support accessibility.
Sony, one of Microsoft’s long-term competitors, has also taken serious steps to raise the bar when it comes to accessibility. The PlayStation 5 includes many features to help gamers with disabilities, including onscreen narration, voice diction, and color correction, among others. Many of the system’s proprietary games have also made accessibility a priority, such as Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart.
A lack of accessibility in games is something that has kept many from enjoying video games as much as others. Seeing huge industry rivals like Sony and Microsoft coming together to tackle accessibility has also inspired other publishers and developers to take steps to improve accessibility features. Between the Game Awards recognizing accessibility and the renewed effort of developers, there are plenty of reasons to be hopeful when it comes to the future of accessibility in the game.
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