In past decades, accessible gaming was not always an option for video game lovers who had any kind of visual, auditory, or motor disability. Gamers with disabilities either couldn’t play a particular game or they needed to make their own adaptations in order to play. In more recent years, however, a bigger focus has been placed on making video games accessible for all who want to play them.
How big is the gaming community?
It may surprise you to know exactly how popular gaming is in the United States. According to 2022 gaming statistics reported by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), over 215 million Americans play video games, which is approximately 66% of the population.
Here are some other interesting facts the ESA reports about American gamers:
- Approximately 75% of U.S. gamers are over 18 and the average player age is 33.
- Over 85% of video game players state that gaming brings them joy, provides mental stimulation, offers stress relief, and is an important part of learning.
Also, according to other champions of the gaming industry, there are approximately 46 million American gamers with some sort of disability. Is it possible for these players to enjoy the same gaming benefits touted by their able bodied counterparts? Fortunately, the answer is ‘yes’. With the increase in accessible gaming features in recent years, gamers with disabilities may now be able to participate in game play in much the same way as their peers.
What is accessible gaming?
While this term can apply to a variety of games, including board games, it’s most often used in relation to video or computer games. To explain the concept simply, accessible gaming means providing features within a game that enable full participation by individuals with disabilities.
Here are some examples of accessible gaming features:
- High contrast color schemes, larger font sizes, and zoom options for people with visual impairments
- Subtitles and visualized sound effects for players with hearing loss
- Customizable controls and one-handed play options for individuals with physical disabilities
- Text display options or game difficulty choices to enhance the playing experience for people with reading or cognitive challenges
What does the future of accessible gaming look like?
While the gaming industry as a whole has made significant strides toward increasing accessibility for all players, there is more work to be done. According to WIRED, an American magazine focused on technology and its effect on industries, the future looks bright based on what we’re seeing today.
Game producers such as Santa Monica Studio and PlayStation have made extensive efforts to make their product more accessible to everyone. Collaborating closely with accessibility consultants and experts as well as disabled gamers, these companies have focused on 4 primary areas of accessibility concern – motor, auditory, visual, and onboarding. Now, with dozens of accessibility options available inside several popular games, gamers with disabilities are able to interact with and enjoy the game experience like their peers.
According to Mila Pavlin, the lead UX designer from Santa Monica Studio, the gaming accessibility journey is far from over. As game designers continue to understand more about the needs of disabled gamers, further improvements can be made to break down barriers, level the playing field, and enhance the gaming experience for everyone.
(Read the full story here.)
Breaking down barriers for individuals with hearing loss
At Advanced Hearing Group, our mission is to help people with hearing loss be able to enjoy the world of sound again so they can hear well and live well. As the gaming community continues to improve accessibility for its members, we continue to provide hearing loss treatment options that can help in every area of daily living.
If you have concerns about your own hearing or that of a loved one, contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our audiologists. We’d love to help get you started on the road to better hearing so you can live life to the fullest!