Inclusive Gaming with Xbox One




Microsoft deserve a standing ovation (whilst mouthing "don't stop now") for their current attitudes to game accessibility. For quite some time they have been welcoming interactions and dialogue with the accessible gaming community via their Xbox Uservoice Ease of Access and beyond.

The top two videos give clear explanation direct from Microsoft of the current Xbox One accessibility features. The middle video was recorded last night featuring the trail-blazing Microsoft accessibility advocate Bryce "We're always listening" Johnson. MS are demonstrating a genuine desire to make all their products more inclusive. It's not entirely new, as people like Brannon Zahand have been banging the drum at Microsoft for many years. The difference now is in the sheer number of people with a greater understanding and passion for this stuff in the right roles. After a visit to Redmond with Ian Hamilton and Tara Voelker as part of the IGDA GASIG, we saw nothing but positive attitudes and tantalising possibilities.

The last video is a very short clip of the Xbox One exclusive Forza 2: Horizon, played using two-buttons for steering and a Jason Hotchkiss "Shout Box". This allows for broad-target steering and sound control to toggle the accelerator at a very low speed on and off. The beauty of Forza 2: Horizon for anyone is the open world allowing you to even churn across fields with no penalty.

One huge benefit of the Xbox One over PS4, Wii-U and iOS devices is that the standard joypad controller does not have motion sensors as part of it's make up. That means that almost all games will be compatible potentially with the largest range of custom controllers (albeit through something like a Titan One and PC link-up, XIM4 or Brook adapter). That's a massive plus, especially for gaming redux methods and those unable to deftly carry and move a controller through the air.

Additionally, the Xbox One back-wards compatibility with a lot of Xbox 360 games is a great boost (although sadly not stuff like Shoot 1UP and SY:NSO from the Indie Arcade, nor the wonderful Happy Action Theatre Kinect activity). New games like: FIFA 16 with reduced controls options and fully adjustable difficulty level settings... Killer Instinct and Mortal Kombat blind accessibility design.... Life is Strange configurable subtitles.... Remappable controls within the game..... Evolve's various features and descriptions on-line of accessibility features are a blessing. Microsoft are some developers are starting to step up to the plate. It's time for more to do so too to make gaming a more inclusive thing (not forgetting the hard-core players too). Something for everyone should not be a hard thing to find.

From my OneSwitch side, I'm working one one-switch, two-switch and stick and a few button methods of controlling the Xbox One with full graphical and spoken help guides as you step through an infinite range of gaming possibilities. Just need time.

Today, being Global Accessibility Awareness Day (what would Ian Dury think I wonder) sees three talks on game accessibility streamed then stored on YouTube. One from Bryce Johnson (as above), one from Naughty Dog on Uncharted accessibility and one from Ian Hamilton on how things moved on in 2015. I'm really looking forward to what comes next in the world of accessible gaming. Maybe a race to the top between Microsoft, Sony, iOS, Steam and [muttering under breath] Nintendo.

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